Where an employer removed a case to federal court because the complaint included both federal and state claims, and the employee then amended her complaint to drop her federal claim, the suit was remanded to state court. Regardless of whether the woman may have “wanted to avoid federal court,” her “mixed motives” did not require it to exercise supplemental jurisdiction of the state law claims.
In 2020, Zakiya Calloway resigned from her job with the County of Powhatan Department of Social Services, or DSS, due to alleged discriminatory treatment and a hostile work environment. Calloway filed a complaint in the circuit court asserting federal and state law claims. After Powhatan DSS removed the case to federal court, Calloway amended her complaint to remove her federal claim and moved to remand the case to state court because the court’s lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
When the court had federal question at the time of removal and “a post-removal amendment has eliminated [the] federal claims,” the court retains supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. In such cases, “trial courts enjoy wide latitude in determining whether or not to retain jurisdiction.”
To date, the plaintiff has amended her complaint and the parties have only litigated the plaintiff’s motion to remand and the court’s discretion to retain or decline supplemental jurisdiction over the plaintiff’s state law claims. The defendant has not filed an answer, and the parties have not engaged in discovery or filed dispositive motions. The court has granted motions to remand in similar circumstances. For the same reasons, neither fairness nor economy tip the balance at this early stage of litigation. Convenience also remains a neutral factor.
Powhatan DSS alleges Calloway engaged in forum shopping by amending her complaint to shed its federal claims. Calloway contends that amending her complaint was “an honest attempt to move her claims forward in a realistic and protective manner.” Regardless of whether Calloway may have “wanted to avoid federal court, she also had substantive reasons for amending the pleadings.” Her “mixed motives” do not compel this court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction of her state law claims.
Plaintiff’s motion to remand granted.
Calloway v. The County of Powhatan Virginia Department of Social Services, Case No. 3:22-cv-374, Feb. 28, 2023. EDVA at Richmond (Gibney). VLW 023-3-100. 4 pp.