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Cox v. North Shore University Hospital

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF NEW YORK


June 19, 2006

EARL COX, PLAINTIFF,
v.
NORTH SHORE UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL, NORTH SHORE LONG ISLAND JEWISH HEALTH SYSTEM, ELAINE BROCH-M ENZO, DIANE KARAN, ELLEN LORENZ, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joseph F. Bianco, District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

Plaintiff Earl Cox filed the instant action against defendants alleging employment discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Law of 1964 ("Title VII") and the New York State Humans Rights Law ("NYSHRL"), Section 290, et seq. Defendants have moved to dismiss the Title VII claim against all defendants, and the NYSHRL claims as against the individual defendants in the case. For the reasons stated below, the defendants' motion to dismiss the Title VII claims is granted. Since the remaining claims all arise under New York state law, the Court exercises its discretion under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3) to remand the instant action to Supreme Court for New York State, Nassau County.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiff, a Black Jewish male of Jamaican descent, was formerly employed as a Patient Care Associate at defendant North Shore University Hospital, which is owned and operated by defendant North Shore Long Island Jewish Health System (hereinafter referred to collectively as "North Shore"). (Compl. ¶¶ 4, 6.) Plaintiff alleges that during his period of employment, he was subjected to hostile treatment because of his race, religious beliefs, national origin, and opposition to discriminatory policies. (Compl. ¶¶ 10-33.) Further, plaintiff alleges that he was terminated, on or about May 2, 2005, based on his religion and in retaliation to his opposition to discriminatory policies. (Compl. ¶¶ 34-38.)

Based on the alleged discriminatory practices, plaintiff filed a formal administrative complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC"). (Compl. ¶ 2.) The EEOC subsequently issued a Dismissal and Notice of Rights letter (colloquially known as a "right-to-sue letter") on September 23, 2005. (Compl. ¶ 2; Compl. Ex. A.)

On December 29, 2005, plaintiff filed suit in New York Supreme Court, Nassau County, alleging violations of Title VII and the NYSHRL against North Shore and three individual supervisors at North Shore's Manhasset facility. Based on the fact that the complaint alleged a violation of a federal cause of action under Title VII, the case was removed to this Court on February 24, 2006.

Defendants now move to dismiss plaintiff's claim under Title VII in its entirety, and plaintiff's claims under the NYSHRL against the individual defendants, pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(6).

II. DISCUSSION

Defendants seek dismissal of plaintiff's Title VII claim. Plaintiff did not oppose the motion to dismiss on this claim, and conceded that he was abandoning it. (See Pl.'s Mem. at 1.) Accordingly, the Court dismisses plaintiff's Title VII claim.*fn1

Consequently, since the only claim upon which this Court's original subject-matter jurisdiction has been dismissed, the Court must proceed to determine whether it should continue to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff's state law claims under the NYSHRL. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3), a district court may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state claims where "the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction." See Arthur Glick Truck Sales, Inc. v. H.O. Penn Machinery Co., 332 F. Supp. 2d 584, 586 (S.D.N.Y. 2004) (holding that plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of single federal claim warranted remand to state court for lack of supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims); see also Igolnikov v. Mallah Org., Inc., No. 92-CV-7199 (SS), 1993 WL 227769, at *4 (S.D.N.Y. June 22, 1993) (declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over remaining state law claims once Title VII claims were dismissed on summary judgment). Although implementation of § 1367(c)(3) is permissive, not mandatory, the Second Circuit has made it plain that the Court's discretion "is not boundless." Valencia v. Lee, 316 F.3d 299, 305 (2d Cir. 2003). "`Pendent jurisdiction is a doctrine of discretion, not of plaintiff's right. Its justification lies in considerations of judicial economy, convenience, and fairness to litigants; if these are not present a federal court should hesitate to exercise jurisdiction over state claims.'" Castellano v. Bd. of Trustees of Police Officers' Variable Supplements Fund, 937 F.2d 752, 758 (2d Cir. 1991) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966)). Here, defendants petition the Court to exercise its discretion to retain supplemental jurisdiction over the state claims because they claim that there is a strong federal interest in doing so and that it would be a waste of judicial resources to remand this case back to state court after this Court devotes resources to resolving the instant motion to dismiss. Plaintiff does not object to this request.

The Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims in this case. The only remaining claims in this case involve interpretation of state law, and principles of federalism and comity counsel in favor of leaving these questions for decision by the state courts. See Valencia, 316 F.3d at 306; see also Hernandez v. Lutheran Med. Ctr. , No. 01-CV-6730 (JG), 2002 WL 31102638, at *2 (E.D.N.Y. Sept. 11, 2002).*fn2 Next, the Court rejects defendants' contention that remanding this case would constitute a waste of judicial resources. This case is in its infancy-discovery has not yet begun-which counsels the Court to decline supplemental jurisdiction and allow the state court to adjudicate the state law questions present in this case. Valencia, 316 F.3d at 302 ("In the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors to be considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine-judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity-will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims."); Marcus v. AT&T Corp., 138 F.3d 46, 57 (2d Cir. 1998) ("In general, where the federal claims are dismissed before trial, the state claims should be dismissed as well."). Contrary to the assertion of defendants, the time and resources devoted by this Court on the instant motion to dismiss do not overcome the overriding state interests in adjudicating this case that now solely arises under state law.*fn3

In the interests of comity and efficiency, the Court remands the case to state court, notwithstanding the agreement of the parties that this Court could continue to exercise jurisdiction.*fn4

III. CONCLUSION

For the reasons stated above, the Court grants defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's Title VII claim. The Court does not reach defendants' motion to dismiss plaintiff's claims under the NYSHRL as against the individual defendants in this case because it determines in its discretion that it should no longer exercise supplemental jurisdiction over those claims, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). Accordingly, the case is remanded to Supreme Court for New York State, Nassau County. The Clerk of the Court shall close this case.

SO ORDERED.


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