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Kidd v. Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County

United States District Court, D. New Jersey

May 3, 2019

Tonnesha KIDD, Plaintiff,
v.
LOURDES MEDICAL CENTER OF BURLINGTON COUNTY, Defendants.

          OPINION

          ROBERT B. KUGLER UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter comes before the Court on motions by both parties. Defendant Lourdes Medical Center has moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint (Doc. No. 6) as well as Plaintiff's Amended Complaint filed thereafter (Doc. No. 17). Plaintiff Tonnesha Kidd requests that this matter be remanded to state court (Doc. No. 8) and has also filed a Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 21) along with a brief that requests leave to amend (Doc. No. 22) and other assorted documents (Doc. Nos. 23-26).

         For the reasons below, Plaintiff's motion to remand is DENIED. Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint is GRANTED IN PART, and Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend is DENIED. Because the Court grants Defendant's motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint, Defendant's first motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint is DENIED AS MOOT.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This matter stems from an employment dispute between pro se Plaintiff Tonnesha Kidd and Defendant Lourdes Medical Center, where Plaintiff formerly worked as a nurse.

         The relevant facts are largely procedural. On September 6, 2018, Plaintiff filed an action against Defendant in state court, alleging breach of contract, fraud, defamation, retaliation, and civil conspiracy. (Doc. No. 1-1, Ex. A at ¶¶ 9-50.) In her retaliation claim, Plaintiff alleged that Defendant engaged in several retaliatory acts in response to her “protected conduct according to the Civil Rights Act of 1964.” (Id. at ¶¶ 39-40, 42.) She also alleged that Defendant's conduct violated “the federally protected rights of Plaintiff.” (Id. at ¶ 43.)

         Based on Plaintiff's retaliation allegations, Defendant removed the action to this Court under its federal question jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 1 at ¶¶ 6-9.) Defendant asked the Court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-12.)

         Motion practice followed. After removal, Defendant filed its first motion to dismiss Plaintiff's Complaint on December 7, 2018. (Doc. No. 6.) Rather than oppose Defendant's first motion to dismiss, Plaintiff filed-within twenty-one days of Defendant's motion-an Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 13 (“Amended Complaint”).) Plaintiff's Amended Complaint re-asserted her original claims and added new ones. Specifically, Plaintiff asserted claims for promissory estoppel, breach of contract, breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, fraud, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, conspiracy to defame, retaliation (again referencing federal law), a violation of New Jersey's Conscientious Employee Protection Act, civil conspiracy, and constructive termination. (Id. at ¶¶ 20-111.) Plaintiff also filed a motion to remand, claiming that Defendant's removal was not timely and that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to hear this case because Plaintiff filed her retaliation claim under state law, not federal law. (Doc. No. 8 at 6-8.)

         Defendant then moved to dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint. (Doc. No. 17.) In addition to opposing this motion (Doc. No. 22), Plaintiff requested leave to amend (id. at 21-22).

         At the same time as Plaintiff requested leave to amend, Plaintiff filed a document entitled “Second Amended Complaint.” (Doc. No. 21.) About a week after Plaintiff filed her request for leave to amend and the Second Amended Complaint, she also filed a five-sentence letter stating that she “inadvertently didn't attach the amended complaint to Leave to amend motion.” (Doc. No. 24.)

         Defendant did not respond to Plaintiff's request for leave to amend or file anything in response to Plaintiff's Seconded Amended Complaint and her corresponding letter. Accordingly, Plaintiff moved for a clerk's entry of default on her Second Amended Complaint (Doc. No. 26), prompting Defendant to respond by letter that no response to Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint was required because it was filed without leave of the Court under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 (Doc. No. 27).

         II. DISCUSSION

         The Court now considers the parties' various filings, beginning with Plaintiff's motion to remand. The Court will then consider Defendant's two motions to dismiss, followed by Plaintiff's request for leave to amend and the document entitled Second Amended Complaint.

         A. Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Plaintiff's motion to remand contains two arguments: (1) that Defendant's removal was not timely, and (2) that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action because Plaintiff filed her retaliation claim under state law, not federal law, such that no ...


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