University v. Cohill

CourtUnited States Supreme Court
Citation108 S.Ct. 614,98 L.Ed.2d 720,484 U.S. 343
Docket NumberNo. 86-1021,CARNEGIE-MELLON,86-1021
PartiesUNIVERSITY, et al., Petitioners v. Maurice B. COHILL, Jr., Judge, United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania, et al
Decision Date20 January 1988
Syllabus

A husband and wife (hereinafter respondents) filed a complaint in a Pennsylvania state court against petitioners, the husband's former employer and his former supervisor, alleging a single federal-law age discrimination claim and a number of state-law claims, all arising from the husband's discharge by petitioners. After petitioners removed the case to Federal District Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), the court granted respondents' motion to amend their complaint to delete the age discrimination allegations and their motion to remand the suit to state court on the ground that such amendment eliminated their sole federal-law claim, which had provided the basis for removal in the first place. The Court of Appeals denied petitioners' application for a writ of mandamus.

Held: A federal district court has discretion under the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction to remand to state court a removed case upon a proper determination that retaining jurisdiction over the case would be inappropriate. Where, as here, all federal-law claims in the action have been eliminated and only pendent state-law claims remain, the district court has a powerful reason to choose not to continue to exercise jurisdiction. A wide discretion to remand rather than to dismiss will enable district courts to deal with appropriate cases involving pendent claims in the manner that best serves the principles of judicial economy, procedural convenience, fairness to litigants, and comity to the States which underlie the pendent jurisdiction doctrine. For example, a remand generally will be preferable to dismissal when the statute of limitations on the plaintiff's state-law claims has expired before the federal court has determined that it should relinquish jurisdiction. Even when the applicable statute of limitations has not expired, a remand may best promote the aforesaid principles, in light of the increased expense and time involved in enforcing state law that dismissal would entail. The fact that the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441-1451, explicitly authorizes remand in only two situations inapplicable to this case does not mean that Congress intended to preclude remands of removed cases involving pendent claims. Given that the statute's silence does not negate the courts' undoubted power to dismiss such cases, that silence cannot be read to negate the power to remand them. Indeed, § 1441(c), which gives district courts discretionary power either to adjudicate or to remand otherwise nonremovable "separate and independent" claims that have been joined with a removable claim, strongly suggests that had Congress decided to address the proper disposition of removed cases involving pendent claims, it would have authorized their remand. The statement in Thermtron Products, Inc. v. Hermansdorfer, 423 U.S. 336, 96 S.Ct. 584, 46 L.Ed.2d 542, that a case may not be remanded on a ground not specified in the removal statute applies only to situations in which the district court has no authority to decline to hear the removed case, and not to cases like the present in which the district court has undoubted discretion to decline to exercise jurisdiction. The fact that, under the rule announced in this case, a plaintiff might attempt to manipulate the forum by deleting federal-law claims and requesting remand is a concern which should be considered by the district court in deciding whether to remand, but hardly justifies a categorical prohibition on the remand of all cases involving pendent state-law claims. Pp. 348-357.

Affirmed.

MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C.J., and SCALIA, J., joined, post, p. 358.

Walter P. DeForest, III, Pittsburgh, Pa., for petitioners.

Allan J. Opsitnick, Verona, Pa., for respondents.

Justice MARSHALL delivered the opinion of the Court.

The question before us is whether a federal district court has discretion under the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction to remand a properly removed case to state court when all federal-law claims in the action have been eliminated and only pendent state-law claims remain.

I

Respondents, William and Carrie Boyle, commenced this action by filing a complaint against petitioners, Carnegie-Mellon University (CMU) and John Kordesich, in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. CMU is William Boyle's former employer; Kordesich is William Boyle's former supervisor. In the complaint, William Boyle charged CMU with violation of federal and state age-discrimination laws, wrongful discharge, breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and misrepresentation. He stated many of the same claims, as well as tortious interference with a contractual relationship, against Kordesich. Carrie Boyle claimed that these alleged wrongs had caused her to suffer a loss of consortium, loss of companionship, and loss of her husband's household services. All of respondents' claims arose from CMU's discharge of William Boyle.

Petitioners removed the case from state court to the United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), which allows a defendant to remove an action that falls within the original jurisdiction of the federal district courts.1 Petitioners stated that the entire lawsuit fell within the original jurisdiction and hence within the removal jurisdiction, of the District Court because the complaint stated a claim arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, 81 Stat. 602, as amended, 29 U.S.C. §§ 621-634, and the state-law claims in the complaint were pendent to this federal-law claim. Respondents did not contest the removal.

Six months later, respondents moved to amend their complaint to delete the allegations of age discrimination and defamation and the request for damages for loss of consortium. In this motion, respondents stated that they now believed these claims were not tenable. At the same time, respondents filed a motion, conditional upon amendment of the complaint, to remand the suit to state court. Respondents noted that the amendment would eliminate their sole federal-law claim, which had provided the basis for removal of the case, and argued that a remand to state court was appropriate in these circumstances.

After granting the motion to amend, the District Court remanded the remaining claims to the state court in which respondents initially had filed the action. Boyle v. Carnegie-Mellon University, 648 F.Supp. 1318 (WD Pa., 1985). In its opinion, the District Court first examined whether any provision of the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441-1451, supported a remand. The court noted that two sections of the statute authorize district courts to remand after removal. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), a court shall remand any case that "was removed improvidently and without jurisdiction"; 2 under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c), a court may remand any claim that is both independently nonremovable and "separate and independent" of the claim providing the basis for removal of the case.3 The court held that § 1447(c) did not apply because the removal was jurisdictionally proper and that § 1441(c) did not apply because the remaining state-law claims in the case, although independently nonremovable, were pendent to, rather than separate and independent of, the federal-law claim that had provided the basis for removal. The District Court then stated that in Thermtron Products, Inc. v. Hermansdorfer, 423 U.S. 336, 96 S.Ct. 584, 46 L.Ed.2d 542 (1976), this Court had suggested that a district court could not remand a removed case or claim without specific statutory authorization. The District Court noted, however, that a number of appellate decisions since Thermtron had approved the remand of removed pendent state-law claims when the federal-law claim providing the basis for removal had been eliminated from the suit. The court found these later decisions persuasive and consequently opted to remand respondents' remaining state-law claims.

Petitioners filed a petition for writ of mandamus with the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, and a divided panel granted the petition.4 41 FEP Cases 1046 (1986). Both the majority and the dissent agreed with the District Court's conclusion that neither § 1447(c) nor § 1441(c) authorized a remand in this case. The majority, after noting a division among the Circuits on the question, held that under Thermtron this absence of statutory authorization precluded the District Court from ordering a remand. The dissent countered that Thermtron's admonition against remanding removed cases to state court without specific statutory authorization did not extend to cases involving pendent jurisdiction. The dissent noted that under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine, a district court has discretion to dismiss without prejudice cases involving pendent claims, and argued that fairness, efficiency, comity, and common sense supported the authority of removal courts to remand such cases as well.

The Court of Appeals granted respondents' petition for rehearing en banc and vacated the panel opinions and writ of mandamus. 41 FEP Cases 1888 (1986). After the rehearing, the en banc court divided evenly on the question whether the District Court had authority to remand respondents' case to state court. Civ. Action No. 85-3619 (Nov. 24, 1986). Accordingly, the court issued an order denying petitioners' application for a writ of mandamus. This order effectively left undisturbed the remand of respondents' case.

We granted certiorari, 479 U.S. 1083, 107 S.Ct....

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