United States District Court, D. New Jersey
BRETT T. DUFFY, Plaintiff,
THE ABSECON POLICE DEPARTMENT, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION & ORDER
L. HILLMAN, U.S.D.J.
matter comes before the Court by way of a Stipulation of
Dismissal filed by the parties in this case. (See
Stipulation [Docket Item 110].) The stipulation reflects the
parties' agreement to dismiss with prejudice all of
Plaintiff's federal claims against Defendants, and to
remand the matter to state court. Defendants had removed
Plaintiff's case from state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331 based on Plaintiff's federal claims, with the
Court having supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
state law claims under 28 U.S.C. §
1367(a). Jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1331(a), diversity of citizenship, is not an available basis
for jurisdiction because Plaintiff and Defendants are all
citizens of New Jersey.
post-removal stipulations between the parties that alter an
element of subject matter jurisdiction, which had been
properly established at the time of removal, in an attempt to
return to state court are without force. See, e.g.,
Tom's Landscaping Contractors, LLC v. Ernest Bock
& Sons, Inc., 2018 WL 5294510, at *2 (D.N.J. 2018)
(declining to endorse the parties' “Consent Order
Permitting Plaintiff to File Amended Complaint and For Remand
of Entire Action to State Court, ” where the amended
complaint would add a non-diverse party, because the filing
of the plaintiff's amended complaint would not defeat
subject matter jurisdiction if such jurisdiction existed at
the time the defendant removed plaintiff's original
complaint) (citing Mollan v. Torrance, 22 U.S. 537,
539 (1824), quoted in Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global
Grp., L.P., 541 U.S. 567, 570 (2004) (“It has been
long and well-established that in determining whether a
federal court may exercise jurisdiction based upon diversity
of citizenship, the court must look to ‘the state of
things at the time of the action brought.'”);
St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co.,
303 U.S. 283, 294-95 (1938) (“It uniformly has been
held that in a suit properly begun in the federal court the
change of citizenship of a party does not oust the
jurisdiction. The same rule governs a suit originally brought
in a state court and removed to a federal court.”));
St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co., 303 U.S. at 292-93
(announcing long ago that “the plaintiff after removal,
by stipulation, by affidavit, or by amendment of his
pleadings, reduces the claim below the requisite amount, 
does not deprive the district court of jurisdiction, ”
and further reiterating that “events occurring
subsequent to removal which reduce the amount recoverable,
whether beyond the plaintiff's control or the result of
his volition, do not oust the district court's
jurisdiction once it has attached”).
parties have endeavored to do a similar thing here.
Technically, their post-removal stipulation for the remand of
the case to state court does not provide the mechanism for
remand. The parties cannot unilaterally consent to the remand
of the case when this Court has subject matter jurisdiction
over the action.
stipulation is not entirely without any force, however,
because Plaintiff's voluntary dismissal of his federal
claims within that stipulation provides a basis for the Court
to consider whether, in its discretion, it should continue to
exercise subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's
state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367.
1367(c) grants district courts the discretion to refuse to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction when ‘values of
judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity'
counsel that the district court remand state claims to a
state forum.” Hudson United Bank v. LiTenda Mortg.
Corp., 142 F.3d 151, 157 (3d Cir. 1998) (quoting
City of Chicago v. International College of
Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 167 (1997)) (other citation
omitted) (“The whole point of supplemental jurisdiction
is to allow the district courts to exercise pendent
jurisdiction over claims as to which original jurisdiction is
lacking.”). Section 1367(c) provides:
(c) The 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
(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.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(c).
Plaintiff's stipulation dismissing his federal claims,
the claims over which this Court had original jurisdiction
are no longer in the case. Further, the only remaining claims
arise under state law for violations of the New Jersey Law
Against Discrimination, N.J.S.A. 10:5-1 et seq., and the New
Jersey Civil Rights Act, N.J.S.A. 10:6-1 et seq. Thus, the
Court finds that it will decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's remaining claims under
§ 1367(c)(2) and (3), and the Court will remand the
matter to state court.
IT IS this 17th ...