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Fraternal of Police, Lodge 1 v. City of Camden

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 9, 2017

FRATERNAL OF POLICE, LODGE 1, et al., Plaintiff,
CITY OF CAMDEN, et al., Defendants.

          GREGG L. ZEFF LAW FIRM OF GREGG L. ZEFF On behalf of Plaintiffs.



          NOEL L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.

         Pending before the Court is the motion of Plaintiffs to remand their case to New Jersey state court. Previously, on November 16, 2016, the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit affirmed this Court's grant of summary judgment in Defendants' favor on all of Plaintiffs' claims, except for their claims for violations of New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), N.J.S.A. 34:19-1, et seq.[1] The Third Circuit summarized Plaintiffs' case and its decision:

This case arises from a vigorous dispute between the Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 1 as well as certain police officers (“Plaintiffs”) on one side, and the City of Camden, New Jersey and certain supervisory police personnel (“Defendants”) on the other. Plaintiffs claim that the City's “directed patrols” policy constitutes an illegal quota system. Specifically, they allege that the policy violates New Jersey's anti-quota law. They also accuse Defendants of illegal retaliation in violation of New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act (“CEPA”), the First Amendment, and the Family and Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”). The district court granted summary judgment to Defendants on all of Plaintiffs' claims.
[W]e will reverse the district court's order granting summary judgment to Defendants on Plaintiffs' CEPA claims. We will remand for proceedings consistent with this opinion. We will affirm the district court's dismissal of Plaintiffs' New Jersey anti-quota law, First Amendment claims, and Officer Holland's FMLA claim.

Fraternal Order of Police, Lodge 1 v. City of Camden, 842 F.3d 231, 236, 247 (3d Cir. 2016).

         Following the Third Circuit's decision, Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand their case to state court. They argue that because no federal claims remain, and the basis for this Court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 has been extinguished, the Court should decline to continue exercising supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims, which are for violations of state law that the state court is best suited to resolve.[2]Defendants have opposed Plaintiffs' motion, arguing that judicial economy concerns warrant this Court's continuing jurisdiction over the matter.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), “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.” A district court 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. § 1367(c).

         The law on supplemental jurisdiction has been long established.

Pendent jurisdiction, in the sense of judicial power . . . [is a] power [that does not] need not be exercised in every case in which it is found to exist. It has consistently been recognized that 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, even though bound to apply state law to them. Needless decisions of state law should be avoided both as a matter of comity and to promote justice between the parties, by procuring for them a surer-footed reading of applicable law. Certainly, if the federal claims are dismissed before trial, even though not insubstantial in a jurisdictional sense, the state claims should be dismissed as well. Similarly, if it appears that the state issues substantially predominate, whether in terms of proof, of the scope of the issues raised, or of the comprehensiveness of the remedy sought, the state claims may be dismissed without prejudice and left for resolution to state tribunals.

United Mine Workers of America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726-27 (1966).

         Ultimately, a “district court's decision whether to exercise [supplemental] jurisdiction after dismissing every claim over which it had original jurisdiction is purely discretionary.” Carlsbad Technology, Inc. v. HIF Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639 (2009) (citing Chicago v. International College of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 173 (1997)) (“Depending on a host of factors, then - including the circumstances of the particular case, the nature of the state law claims, the character of the governing state law, and the relationship between the state and federal claims - district courts may decline to exercise jurisdiction over supplemental state law claims.”)).

         In this case, three factors compel the Court to decline to continue ...

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