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Ogbaegbe v. New York City Health and Hospitals Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

March 30, 2018

CHARLES OGBAEGBE, Plaintiff,
v.
NEW YORK CITY HEALTH AND HOSPITALS CORPORATION, Defendant.

          DECISION & ORDER

          HON. WILLIAM F. KUNTZ, II, United States District Judge.

         Charles Ogbaegbe ("Plaintiff) originally filed this action against New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation ("HHC"), Kings County Hospital Center ("KCHC"), and Sodexo, Inc. ("Sodexo") (collectively, "Defendants") in Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Kings, alleging, inter alia, claims of unlawful discrimination, retaliation, and hostile work environment on the basis of his national origin and gender in the course of his employment. In March 2016, Plaintiff filed an amended complaint which included, for the first time, a federal claim arising under 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against defendant Sodexo. On April 18, 2016, defendant Sodexo, with the consent of the other named defendants, filed a notice of removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. On February 14, 2017, this Court granted a stipulation and order of dismissal with prejudice by and between Plaintiff and Sodexo, the only named defendant against whom a federal cause of action was asserted. Plaintiff now moves for partial summary judgment as to his claim for unlawful retaliation and HHC[1] now moves for summary judgment as to all remaining claims asserted against it. For the reasons discussed below, this Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs remaining claims against HHC, and this action is hereby remanded to state court.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is a resident and domiciliary of the State of New York and HHC is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New York with its principal place of business at 346 Broadway, New York, New York. First Amended Complaint ("FAC") ¶¶ 5, 7, ECF No. 1-1; Civil Cover Sheet, ECF No. 3 (noting Plaintiffs county of residence! as Kings County). Plaintiff alleges that on or about December 8, 2008, Plaintiff began working as a dietician at KCHC, which is a member of HHC. FAC ¶¶ 8, 17; Plaintiffs Rule 56.1 Statement of Facts in Support of Plaintiff s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment ("Pls. Facts") ¶ 5, ECF No. 39-2. On or about July 2011, Plaintiff alleges defendant Sodexo took over management of the food and dietary services for KCHC, and Sodexo directly supervised the dietary staff, including Plaintiff. FAC ¶ 20; Pls. Facts ¶ 20. Plaintiff claims he was not advised of any of the new policies or procedures implemented by his new supervisors. Pls. Facts ¶ 28. Plaintiff alleges that "immediately after Sodexo's appointment as contractor for the dietary program, [he] was subjected to a campaign of disparate treatment and harassment on the basis of his gender (male) and national origin (Nigerian)." FAC ¶ 24.

         Specifically, on January 5, 2012, Plaintiff received a performance evaluation from two of his supervisors which rated his performance as "Needs Improvement (Below Standard), " and Plaintiff filed an objection to this evaluation on January 20, 2012. Pls. Facts ¶¶ 32, 43; FAC ¶ 32. On March 13, 2012, Plaintiff was issued a request for disciplinary action for allegedly failing to timely turn in productivity logs, among other issues. Pls. Facts ¶ 51. A disciplinary hearing was held on May 2, 2012, and Plaintiff was charged with insubordination, missing deadlines, inappropriate patient care, and failure to submit weekly logs. FAC ¶ 33; Pls. Facts ¶ 53. On June 20, 2012, Plaintiff was issued an additional disciplinary allegation recommending a 20-day suspension, FAC ¶ 37, and on June 26, 2012, Plaintiff received a second negative annual performance review even though only five months had passed since his prior negative review, id. ¶ 38. That same day, Plaintiff filed a grievance with his union complaining about the way management was treating him. Id. ¶ 39. On August 7, 2012, Plaintiff was escorted off of the KCHC premises by security. Id. ¶ 40; Pls. Facts ¶ 73. The next day, Defendants imposed the 20-day suspension that had previously been recommended. FAC ¶ 41. On August 21, 2012, Plaintiff filed a charge with the New York State Division of Human Rights alleging claims of disparate treatment based on gender, national origin, and race. Id. ¶ 42; Pls. Facts ¶ 77. Plaintiff returned to work on September 5, 2012, and was terminated on September 19, 2012. FAC ¶¶ 45-46; Pls. Facts ¶ 87. HHC disputes many of Plaintiff s factual assertions and claims Plaintiff was terminated not because of his gender or national origin, but instead because of "well documented performance and productivity issues." HHC Memo in Support of Motion for Summary Judgment at 1, ECF No. 36-1.

         Plaintiff asserts the following causes of action: (1) violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1981 against Sodexo, FAC ¶¶ 56-59; (2) national origin and gender discrimination in violation of the New York City Human Rights Law ("NYCHRL"), N.Y.C. Administrative Code § 8-101 et seq. against all defendants, [2] FAC ¶¶ 60-65; (3) unlawful retaliation in violation of the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Administrative Code § 8-107 against HHC and KCHC, FAC ¶¶ 66-73; (4) hostile work environment based upon national origin and gender discrimination in violation of the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Administrative Code § 8-101 et seq. against all defendants, FAC ¶¶ 74-81; (5) unlawful deductions in violation of N.Y. Labor Law § 193 against HHC and KCHC, FAC ¶¶ 82-84; (6) conversion against HHC and KCHC, FAC ¶¶ 85-90; and (7) unjust enrichment against HHC and KCHC, FAC ¶¶ 91-95. In the notice of removal, Plaintiff asserts there is federal jurisdiction because "[t]he Court has original jurisdiction over this matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ... in that federal question jurisdiction exists as Plaintiffs First Amended pomplaint is based, in pertinent part, on allegations that Sodexo's conduct violated 42 U.S.C. § 1981, " and "[s]ince this Court has original jurisdiction over a federal question, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367, it also maintains supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiffs related state law claims." Notice of Removal ¶¶5-6, ECF No. 1.

         In a letter filed on January 18, 2017, Plaintiff informed this Court that he was withdrawing his fifth cause of action alleging unlawful deductions in violation of N.Y. Labor Law § 193 against HHC and KCHC. Plaintiffs January 18, 2017 Letter at 1, ECF No. 32. That letter also stated Plaintiffs intent to dismiss KCHC from this action because "individual facilities owned and operated by the New York City Health & Hospitals Corporation ... do not have the capacity to be sued." Id. On February 14, 2017, this Court so-ordered a stipulation and order of dismissal with prejudice pursuant to Rule 41(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure by and between Plaintiff and Sodexo. ECF No. 35. On June 6, 2017, Plaintiff moved for partial summary judgment regarding his third cause of action, unlawful retaliation in violation of the NYCHRL, [3] and HHC moved for summary judgment as to all causes of action asserted against it. See ECF Nos. 36-41. Plaintiff stated he was also withdrawing his cause of action for gender discrimination in violation of NYCHRL § 8-101 et seq. Plaintiffs Memo in Opposition to HHC Motion for Summary Judgment at 1 n.2, ECF No. 37. Plaintiff acknowledges HHC is the only remaining defendant in this action. Id. at 1 n.1.

         Accordingly, the following causes of action remain against only HHC: (1) national origin discrimination in violation of the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Administrative Code § 8-101 et seq.\ (2) unlawful retaliation in violation of the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Administrative Code § 8-107; (3) hostile work environment in violation of the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Administrative Code § 8-101 et seq.\ (4) conversion; and (5) unjust enrichment.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Applicable Law

         Title 28, section 1367 of the U.S. Code provides that "in any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction, the district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). "The Supplemental Jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1367, enables federal district courts to entertain claims not otherwise within their adjudicatory authority when those claims 'are so related to claims ... within [federal-court competence] that they form part of the same case or controversy.'" Artis v. Dist. of Columbia, 138 S.Ct. 594, 597 (2018) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a)). "For purposes of section 1367(a), claims form part of the same case or controversy if they derive from a common nucleus of operative fact." Shahriar v. Smith & Wollensky Rest. Grp., Inc., 659 F.3d 234, 254 (2d Cir. 2011) (quotation marks and citation omitted). "Included within this supplemental jurisdiction are state claims brought along with federal claims arising from the same episode." Artis, 138 S.Ct. at 597.

         Subsection (c) of § 1367 sets forth situations in which a district court "may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim." 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). Specifically, "[t]he district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if... (1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law, (2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction, (3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction, or (4) in exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction." Id. "The exercise of supplemental jurisdiction is within the sound discretion of the district court. Courts 'consider and weigh in each case, and at every stage of the litigation, the values of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity in order to decide whether to exercise' supplemental jurisdiction." Lundy v. Catholic Health Sys. of Long Island Inc., 711 F.3d 106, 117-18 (2d Cir. 2013) (citing and quoting Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 349-50(1988)).

         Furthermore, "in the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors ... will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims." Cohill, 484 U.S. at 350 n.7; Artis, 138 S.Ct. at 597-98 ("When district courts dismiss all claims independently qualifying for the exercise of federal jurisdiction, they ordinarily dismiss as well all related state claims." (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3))); Motorola Credit Corp. v. Uzan, 388 F.3d 39, 56 (2d Cir. 2004) ("[O]ur Court has held, as a general proposition, that if [all] federal claims are dismissed before trial... the state claims should be dismissed as well." (quotation marks and citations omitted)); Valencia ex rel. Franco v. Zee, 316 F.3d 299, 305 (2d Cir. 2003) (quoting Cohill, 484 U.S. at 350 n.7); Schiffman v. Epstein, 04-CV-2661, 2009 WL 1787760, at *7 (S.D.N.Y. June 23, 2009) (Robinson, J.) ("The strong preference in this Circuit is for district courts to decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under § 1367(c)(3) when all of the federal claims are dismissed from the suit prior to trial." (citation omitted)); see also 16 Moore 's Federal Practice § 106.66 (3d ed. 2018).

         II. ...


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