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MOORE v. DEBIASE

United States District Court, District of New Jersey


June 20, 1991

ROBERT MOORE AND DEBORAH MOORE, HIS WIFE, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
JOSEPH F. DEBIASE, JOHN GIBNEY, JOSEPH CUMMINS, LOUIS CIPPOLA, THOMAS DENAPOLI, PHILIP VENTRIGLIA, PATRICK ROBINSON, CHERYL O'NEILL, BOROUGH OF DUNELLEN AND BOROUGH OF DUNELLEN POLICE DEPARTMENT, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lechner, District Judge.

OPINION

Introduction

This is an action brought by plaintiffs Robert Moore ("Moore") and Deborah Moore (collectively, the "Plaintiffs") against Joseph F. DeBiase ("DeBiase"), John Gibney ("Gibney"), Joseph Cummins ("Cummins"), Louis Cippola ("Cippola"), Thomas DeNapoli ("DeNapoli"), Philip Ventriglia ("Ventriglia"), Patrick Robinson ("Robinson"), Cheryl O'Neill ("O'Neill"), the Borough of Dunellen ("Dunellen") and the Dunellen Police Department (the "Police Department") (collectively, the "Defendants"). Currently before the court is the motion of Plaintiffs to remand this action to the superior court of the State of New Jersey.*fn1 For the reasons set forth below, the motion to remand is granted.

Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiffs filed their complaint (the "Complaint") in the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, on 22 February 1991. Moore is and was at all relevant times a member of the Police Department. Complaint, ¶ 1. In addition, Moore served as president of the Dunellen Police Benevolent Association Local 146 (the "PBA"), the collective bargaining unit for Dunellen police officers. Id., ¶ 3. DeBiase is and was at all relevant times the Chief of Police of the Police Department. Id., ¶ 2. Gibney, Cummins, Cippola, Ventriglia, Robinson and O'Neill were at all relevant times publicly elected officials of Dunellen.*fn2 Id., ¶¶ 3-8. Dunellen is a municipality established under New Jersey law. Id., ¶ 9.

Plaintiffs brought suit against the Defendants for certain acts or omissions allegedly performed under color of New Jersey law. Id., ¶ 11. On or about 1 January 1988, DeBiase was promoted to the position of Chief of the Police Department. Plaintiffs allege DeBiase implemented a new work schedule and promoted his brother, who was also a member of the Police Department, to the position of Lieutenant. Id., First Count, ¶ 2. Subsequently, Moore, in his capacity as president of the PBA, filed a grievance against DeBiase, claiming the implementation of the new work schedule was an unfair labor practice.

The essence of Plaintiffs' Complaint centers on the allegations that the Defendants and particularly DeBiase initiated a campaign to discredit and terminate Moore in retaliation for the filing of the grievance against DeBiase. Plaintiffs allege DeBiase issued meritless reprimands of Moore and caused various investigations and intrusions into Moore's private affairs. Id., First Count, ¶ 6. In addition, DeBiase allegedly initiated a disciplinary proceeding against Moore. Id. Plaintiffs also allege Moore was wrongfully ordered to undergo a medical examination to determine whether he was medically fit for duty. Id., First Count, ¶¶ 7-9. Moore refused to submit to the examination and was thereafter suspended from duty.

After Moore was suspended, DeBiase filed a grievance against Moore for violating Police Department rules. DeBiase charged Moore chronically disobeyed his superiors, was guilty of habitual misconduct and failed to submit to a medical evaluation to determine his fitness for duty. Subsequently, DeBiase commenced disciplinary proceedings against Moore and sought his removal from the Police Department.

Plaintiffs then filed their Complaint which contains nineteen Counts.*fn3 The first seven Counts and the Ninth Count are directed exclusively at DeBiase. In the First Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for his allegedly malicious, intentional and wrongful suspension of Moore. In the Second Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for the public embarrassment and ridicule Moore suffered as a result of his malicious and wrongful suspension. In the Third Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for, among other things, DeBiase's attempts to undermine Moore's position as PBA president.

In the Fourth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for his abuse of authority in attempting to cause the termination of Moore. In the Fifth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for allegedly conspiring with other public officials in Dunellen to falsify and to prosecute charges against Moore. In the Sixth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for harm Moore suffered when DeBiase allegedly perjured himself during the disciplinary proceeding against Moore. In the Seventh Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for defamation. In the Ninth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase for allegedly attempting to intimidate Moore into terminating his position with the Police Department.

The following Counts are directed at various defendants. In the Eighth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from the Public Officials for refusing to lift Moore's suspension from the Police Department. In the Tenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for breaching an agreement to conduct the disciplinary proceeding against Moore in private and without public disclosure. In the Eleventh Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen, and the Police Department for tortiously interfering with Moore's contractual relations with Dunellen. In the Twelfth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for discriminating against Moore because of his PBA activities.

The Thirteenth through Fifteenth Counts bring claims grounded in federal and/or state constitutional law. In the Thirteenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for negligently or intentionally permitting DeBiase to suspend Moore in violation of an unspecified constitution. In the Fourteenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for their deprivation, in violation of 42 U.S.C. § 1983, of Moore's rights, privileges and immunities secured by the United States Constitution and New Jersey law. In the Fifteenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for their conspiracy to violate 42 U.S.C. § 1983 under federal and state law.

In the Sixteenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from Dunellen and the Police Department, on a respondeat superior theory, for the wrongful acts of their agents DeBiase and the Public Officials. In the Seventeenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for Moore's expenditures in defending himself against the allegedly fraudulent charges brought by defendants. In the Eighteenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for their conduct which resulted in a diminution of the quality of Moore's life. In the Nineteenth Count, Plaintiffs seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen, and the Police Department for Deborah Moore's loss of Moore's consortium and services.

On or about 9 April 1991, the Removing Defendants removed this action from the Superior Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) and 1446(b), based upon a federal question presented in the Complaint. Plaintiffs now move to remand this action back to the superior court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' motion is granted.

Discussion

A. Remand Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), "[a]ny civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction founded on a claim or right arising under the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States shall be removable without regard to the citizenship or residence of the parties. . . ." Id. Section 1446(b) governs the procedure for removal.*fn4 Because the Complaint alleges causes of action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violations of the United States Constitution, it appears this action falls within the purview of section 1441(b).*fn5 Subject matter jurisdiction appears to exist over Plaintiffs' purely state laws claims on the basis of pendent jurisdiction.*fn6 See Samaroo v. Samaroo, 743 F. Supp. 309, 315 (D.N.J. 1990) ("Section 1441(b) has been universally interpreted to permit removal of non-federal claims only if they are within the pendent jurisdiction of the Court."); 14A C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3722 at 281 (1985) ("the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction . . . is fully applicable to removal based on the existence of a federal question").

Plaintiffs move to remand this action under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Section 1447(c) provides, in pertinent part: "If at any time before the final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." Id. As indicated above, however, it appears subject matter jurisdiction exists over the section 1983 claims asserted by Plaintiffs. Accordingly, remand under section 1447(c) is not appropriate.

Section 1447(c), however, is not the only statutory basis for remand. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c), a district court has the discretion to remand "all matters in which State law predominates." Id. Therefore, it must be considered whether this action should be remanded under section 1441(c).*fn7

B. Remand Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c)

Section 1441(c) provides:

    Whenever a separate and independent claim or
  cause of action within the jurisdiction conferred
  by section 1331 of this title, is joined with one
  or more otherwise non-removable claims or causes
  of action, the entire case may be removed and the
  district court may determine all issues therein,
  or, in its discretion, may remand all matters in
  which State law predominates.

28 U.S.C. § 1441(c) (emphasis added).

Section 1441(c) was recently amended by Congress. See the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990 (the "Act"), Pub.L. No. 101-650, § 312, 104 Stat. 5089, 5114 (1990). Prior to its amendment, section 1441(c) provided:

    Whenever a separate and independent claim or
  cause of action, which would be removable if sued
  upon alone, is joined with one or more otherwise
  non-removable claims or causes of action, the
  entire case may be removed and the district court
  may determine all issues therein, or, in its
  discretion, remand all matters not otherwise within
  its original jurisdiction.

28 U.S.C. § 1441(c) (amended language emphasized), amended by the Act, Pub.L. No. 101-650, § 312, 104 Stat. at 5114. Congress replaced the language referring to actions removable if sued upon alone with the language referring to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Act, Pub.L. No. 101-650, § 312(1), 104 Stat. at 5114. In addition, Congress replaced the language referring to remand of matters not within a court's original jurisdiction with the language allowing remand of all matters in which state law predominates. The Act, Pub.L. No. 101-650, § 312(2), 104 Stat. at 5114.

Prior to the amendment of section 1441(c), the Federal Courts Study Committee (the "Committee") had issued a report which addressed the history of section 1441(c) and recommended its repeal.*fn8 See Report of the Federal Courts Study Committee (2 April 1990) (the "Report"); see also I Federal Courts Study Committee, Working Papers and Subcommittee Reports (1 July 1990) (the "Working Papers").*fn9 The Committee stated section 1441(c) was originally intended to preserve a defendant's power to remove a non-federal question diversity case even after the plaintiff joined a non-removable claim against a non-diverse defendant, thereby destroying diversity. Report at 94; see Working Papers at 532; see also Kaye Assoc. v. Board of Chosen Freeholders, 757 F. Supp. 486, 488 (D.N.J. 1991) (discussing history of prior version of section 1441(c)). Under the prior version of section 1441(c), the entire case would be removable if the original diverse claim were separate and independent from the newly joined non-diverse claim. See Kaye Assoc., 757 F. Supp. at 488.

The Working Papers, however, suggest this original purpose was defeated by the Supreme Court decision in American Fire & Casualty Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 71 S.Ct. 534, 95 L.Ed. 702 (1951). See Working Papers at 532. In Finn, a Texas plaintiff brought suit in state court on an insurance claim against two foreign insurance companies and their Texas agent. 341 U.S. at 7-8, 71 S.Ct. at 537. Prior to trial, the two insurance companies removed the action to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1446. Finn, 341 U.S. at 7, 71 S.Ct. at 537. After judgment was entered, the plaintiff appealed the removal of the action. Id. at 8, 71 S.Ct. at 537.

The Court held removal was inappropriate. Id. at 18-19, 71 S.Ct. at 542-43. The Court reached this conclusion by noting Congress drafted section 1441(c) to limit the right of removal under its predecessor statute, 28 U.S.C. § 71 (1946).*fn10 Finn, 341 U.S. at 10, 71 S.Ct. at 538. The Court stated that under section 71, an action such as that brought by the Texas plaintiff was removable because the claims brought against the diverse insurance companies could be interpreted as suits "separable" from the claims brought against the non-diverse agent. Id. at 11, 71 S.Ct. at 538-39. Separability under section 71 was largely a question of whether the claims to be removed could be characterized as a case or controversy that a plaintiff could have brought in federal court in diversity. Finn, 341 U.S. at 11, 71 S.Ct. at 538-39. If so, then the entire action, including the non-diverse claims, could be removed under section 71. Id.

The Court then noted section 71 was redesignated as section 1441(c) and amended to allow removal only when the diverse claims were causes of action "separate and independent" from the non-diverse claims. Id. The Court stated the use of the term "`independent' g[ave] emphasis to congressional intention to require more complete disassociation between the federally cognizable proceedings and those cognizable only in state courts before allowing removal." Id. at 12, 71 S.Ct. at 539. The Court then held claims were not separate and independent under section 1441(c) when "there is a single wrong to plaintiff, for which relief is sought, arising from an interlocked series of transactions. . . ." Id. at 14, 71 S.Ct. at 540. Because the Texas plaintiff's causes of action against the foreign insurance companies were based on the same transactions and sought alternative recovery for the same loss as the claim against the Texas agent, the case was not removable under section 1441(c). Id. at 14-16, 71 S.Ct. at 540-41.

The Working Papers noted the Court's interpretation of section 1441(c) in Finn prevented the removal of a case in which diversity was destroyed by the joinder of a non-diverse defendant. Working Papers at 533. Because of Finn, the invocation of section 1441(c) in the type of case it was originally intended to address declined. Significantly, however, despite Finn, decisions occasionally permitted removal of a case in which diversity had been destroyed. Working Papers at 533. These cases, although "rare[,] . . . often seem[ed] inconsistent with decisions rejecting removal in similar circumstances." Id.

The Committee apparently agreed with this assessment. The Committee, like the Working Papers, pointed out the principal purpose of section 1441(c) was "to keep a defendant's right of removal to federal court alive when a state court plaintiff join[ed] an unrelated, non-removable claim." Report at 94. The Committee also agreed section 1441(c) would appear to apply to a diversity case in which the plaintiff brought a new state law claim against a non-diverse defendant. Id. at 94-95. Without explanation but in apparent agreement with the Working Papers, the Committee noted: "For complex reasons . . . the statute cause[d] much litigation apart from the merits as defendants tr[ied] and mostly fail[ed] to qualify for separate claim removal." Id. at 95. The Committee recommended repeal of section 1441(c) to relieve federal courts from the burden of this litigation.

Congress, however, opted not to repeal section 1441(c). Congress apparently recognized the concerns of the Committee and the Working Papers and agreed that federal courts sometimes were faced with difficult determinations of whether state law claims between diverse parties were sufficiently separate and independent from state law claims between non-diverse parties so as to be removable. H.Rep. No. 101-734, 101st Cong., 2d Sess. ("H.Rep.") 23, reprinted in U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News 1990, 6802, 6869; 136 Cong.Rec. S17570, S17581 (daily ed. 27 Oct. 1990). Furthermore, Congress agreed those difficult determinations often led to conflicting and confusing results. H.Rep. at 23, U.S. Code Cong. & Admin.News at 6869; 136 Cong.Rec. at S17581.

Congress was sensitive, however, to the desirability of retaining removal on the basis of federal question jurisdiction and therefore declined to repeal section 1441(c). Rather, Congress opted to amend section 1441(c) to restrict the application of section 1441(c) to only cases in which there were federal questions, thus eliminating any possibility that section 1441(c) could be invoked in a non-federal question case in which diversity was destroyed. H.Rep. at 23, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News at 6869; 136 Cong.Rec. at S17581; see 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c), as amended.

    The amendment would . . . retain the opportunity
  for removal in the one situation in which it seems
  clearly desirable. The joinder rules of many
  states permit a plaintiff to join completely
  unrelated claims in a single action. The plaintiff
  could easily bring a single action on a federal
  claim and a completely unrelated state claim. The
  reasons for permitting removal of federal question
  cases applies with full force.

H.Rep. at 23, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin. News at 6869; 136 Cong.Rec. at S17581.*fn11 Congress further stated the amendment would simplify the removal determination: "In many cases the federal and state claims will be related in such a way as to establish pendent jurisdiction over the state claim. Removal of such cases is possible under Sec[tion] 1441(a). The amended provision [of § 1441(c)] would establish a basis for removal that would avoid the need to decide whether there is pendent jurisdiction." H.Rep. at 23, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News at 6869.*fn12

By amending section 1441(c) the way it did, Congress intended to simplify determinations of removability. Id. Section 1441(c), as amended, permits removal only if there is a federal question claim separate and independent from the state law claims and only if the district court opts to retain the removed case.*fn13 See, e.g., Dalworth Oil Co. v. Fina Oil & Chemical Co., 758 F. Supp. 410, 413 (N.D.Tex. 1991) (court exercised discretion to adjudicate state law claim separate and independent from federal law claim removed under section 1441(c), as amended). Significantly, Congress provided "the district court may determine all issues [within the removed case], or, in its discretion, may remand all matters in which State law predominates." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c) (emphasis added).

Congress did not define when state law predominates over a federal question claim in a case with pleadings which invoke both state and federal law. It has been noted this question "requires a value judgment by the federal court. . . ." Martin v. Drummond Coal Co., 756 F. Supp. 524, 527 (N.D.Ala. 1991). One commentator has suggested state law predominates "[i]f the federal court finds that the federal claim, while plausible, is not really the plaintiff's main mission; that it is only an incident or adjunct of the state claim and that the state claim is the crux of the action. . . ." 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441 Commentary (West Supp. 1991). Because the question of whether state law predominates is value-laden, it is apparent the question must be answered by looking to the nature of the claims as set forth in the pleading*fn14 and by determining whether the state law claims are more complex or require more judicial resources to adjudicate or are more salient in the case as a whole than the federal law claims.*fn15

One final issue needs consideration before Plaintiffs' Complaint may be addressed. By permitting remand of a case in which state law predominates, Congress granted district courts broad discretion to decide whether to retain such a removed matter or remand it to state court.*fn16 Martin, 756 F. Supp. at 527. Congress did not indicate, however, what it meant by the term "matters." Congress did not state whether "matters" refers to the entire case or just that portion in which state law can be said to predominate.

Prior to its amendment, section 1441(c) permitted a district court to remand any separate and independent matter "not otherwise within its original jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c), amended by the Act, Pub.L. No. 101-650, § 312, 104 Stat. at 5114. In other words, a district court could remand the state law claims not within its original jurisdiction but was required to retain the federal law claims. Jersey Paving Co. v. Fidelity & Deposit Co., 603 F. Supp. 414, 416 (D.N.J. 1985) (decided under prior version of section 1441(c)); 14A C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, supra § 3724 at 394-95; Working Papers at 535. "Matters," in the context of the prior version of section 1441(c), could only be interpreted to mean a discrete claim or cause of action and not the entire case.

Congress, as discussed above, changed this language to permit remand of all matters in which state law predominates. Although Congress retained the term "matters," it eliminated the limitation to only claims or causes of action not within the district court's original jurisdiction. When Congress changes statutory language, it may be inferred Congress intended to change the purpose of the statute. McElroy v. United States, 455 U.S. 642, 650-52 n. 14, 102 S.Ct. 1332, 1337 n. 14, 71 L.Ed.2d 522, reh'g denied, 456 U.S. 965, 102 S.Ct. 2047, 72 L.Ed.2d 491 (1982). Therefore, it may be inferred Congress intended to change the scope of what a district court could remand. Before, a district court could only remand the claim over which it did not have original jurisdiction: a non-federal law claim between non-diverse parties. Under the amended section 1441(c), it appears a district court may remand even a claim over which it has original jurisdiction, so long as state law somehow predominates in that particular claim or cause of action. In other words, the term "matters," construed in the context of amended section 1441(c), should be read to permit remand of the entire case if the circumstances justify such remand. Congress, by granting the discretion to remand all matters in which state law predominates, intended to permit a district court to remand the entire case and not just the state law claims.

In this case, remand of the entire case is appropriate because Plaintiffs' state law claims predominate in the entire case.*fn17 Sixteen of the nineteen Counts in the Complaint allege causes of action based purely on state law. The federal law claims are found only in the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Counts.*fn18 It is noted, moreover, that the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Counts bring claims grounded upon both federal and state constitutional law. Consequently, even the Counts containing the federal law claims invoke state law. Under these circumstances, it appears the crux of Plaintiffs' claims relate to state law. State law is implicated and therefore predominates in every aspect of this action and remand of the entire case is appropriate.

Remand of the entire matter, including the section 1983 claims, is even more compelling in this case because the federal law claims are factually tied to all of the state law claims. See Martin, 756 F. Supp. at 527 (as a "practical matter," remand of the entire action is appropriate when "it would be impossible to remand the state claims . . . and to retain the tangential federal claim which is inexorably tied to the state claim."). The crucial allegations supporting the federal and state law claims all relate to DeBiase's conduct toward Moore. The first eight Counts in the Complaint are directed only at DeBiase and appear to be based solely on state law. The remaining state law Counts, although directed at all of the Defendants including DeBiase, are all predicated upon the allegations of wrongdoing by DeBiase contained in the first eight Counts.

Similarly, the federal law claims are based on the allegations of wrongdoing by DeBiase. The Thirteenth, Fourteenth and Fifteenth Counts all seek to recover from DeBiase, the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department for the results of DeBiase's actions directed at Moore. The claims brought against the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department are predicated upon allegations that these defendants either actively conspired with DeBiase or permitted DeBiase to violate Moore's rights under state and federal law. Indeed, it appears to be unlikely that the claims against the Public Officials, Dunellen and the Police Department can succeed if the claims against DeBiase fail. In this respect, the federal law claims are based on the same facts as the state law claims.*fn19 Because the state law claims and facts are substantially implicated in the federal law claims, it appears that the state law predominates.

The Removing Defendants make several arguments against remand. First, the Removing Defendants argue federal courts should not hesitate to adjudicate questions of federal law which have been removed from state courts. Defendants Brief at 6-7 (citing Wilson v. Intercollegiate (Big Ten) Conference Athletic Ass'n, 668 F.2d 962 (7th Cir.), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 831, 103 S.Ct. 70, 74 L.Ed.2d 70 (1982)). It cannot be disputed that federal courts should decide issues of federal law which are properly presented. The Removing Defendants ignore, however, the specific provision in section 1441(c) which grants a district court the discretion to remand an action in which state law predominates. The Removing Defendants' argument, therefore, does nothing to diminish that remand power.*fn20

Second, the Removing Defendants argue federal courts should readily adjudicate both section 1983 claims and state law claims closely related to the section 1983 claims. Defendants Brief at 5-7 (citing Hagans v. Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 94 S.Ct. 1372, 39 L.Ed.2d 577 (1974); Jenkins v. Averett, 424 F.2d 1228 (4th Cir. 1970); Glover v. New York, 401 F. Supp. 632 (E.D.N Y 1975)). This argument, however, goes to the existence of pendent jurisdiction over state law claims which share with federal law claims a common nucleus of operative fact. See Hagans, 415 U.S. at 536, 94 S.Ct. at 1378-79. The issue of pendent jurisdiction, however, is inapposite to the issue of remand pursuant to section 1441(c) when state law predominates.*fn21 Congress, in amending section 1441(c), expressly shifted the analysis away from the question of pendent jurisdiction. See H.Rep. at 23, U.S.Code Cong. & Admin.News at 6869; 136 Cong.Rec. at S17581. Therefore, this argument does not bear on the question of whether a court should exercise its discretion to remand a case in which state law predominates.

The overwhelming majority of the claims in this case are grounded exclusively in state law. As well, the claims grounded in federal law are also grounded in state law. Therefore, state law predominates in this case. Under section 1441(c), a district court has the discretion to remand any matter in which state law predominates.*fn22 A district court, in exercising that discretion, must bear in mind that removal statutes are to be strictly construed against removal. Boyer, 913 F.2d at 111. Accordingly, this case is remanded to the Superior Court of New Jersey.

Conclusion

For the reasons set forth above, this action is remanded to the Superior Court of the State of New Jersey, Law Division, Middlesex County, for all purposes.


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