United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Anthony A. Cooper, Plaintiff,
Richland County Recreation Commission; and James Brown III; David Stringer; and Tara Dickerson in their individual capacities, Defendants.
Anthony A Cooper, Plaintiff, represented by James Lewis
Cromer, J Lewis Cromer and Associates & Julius Wistar Babb,
IV, J Lewis Cromer and Associates.
Richland County Recreation Commission, Defendant, represented
by Richard J. Morgan, McNair Law Firm.
Brown, III, Defendant, represented by Richard J. Morgan,
McNair Law Firm.
Stringer, Defendant, represented by Richard J. Morgan, McNair
Dickerson, Defendant, represented by Donna Seegars Givens,
Moore Taylor Law Firm.
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
KAYMANI D. WEST, Magistrate Judge.
filed this action in state court bringing common-law
defamation and civil conspiracy causes of action against the
following Defendants: his employer, Richland County
Recreation Commission ("RCRC"); RCRC Executive
Director James Brown III ("Brown"); RCRC Division
Head of Human Resources, David Stringer
("Stringer"); and RCRC Chief of Staff, Tara
Dickerson ("Dickerson"). Comp., ECF No. 1-1;
Richland Cnty. Ct. Common Pleas Case No. 2016-CP-40-2552.
Defendants removed this action on May 18, 2016, on grounds
that this court has subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to
28 U.S.C. Â§ 1331 (federal question jurisdiction). Notice of
Removal 2-3, ECF No. 1. This matter is before the court on
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand, ECF No. 7, to which
Defendants responded, ECF No. 10, and Plaintiff replied, ECF
No. 16. Also pending is Defendants' Motion to Dismiss.
ECF No. 5. The court agreed to hold Plaintiff's deadline
for responding to the Motion to Dismiss in abeyance pending
the district court's ruling on the remand motion. ECF No.
12. All pretrial proceedings in this case were referred to
the undersigned pursuant to 28 U.S.C. Â§ 636(b)(1)(A) and
Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)(g) (D.S.C.). Having reviewed the
pleadings, including Defendants' removal documents, and
the memoranda of the parties supporting and opposing the
Motion to Remand, the undersigned recommends Plaintiff's
Motion to Remand, ECF No. 7, be granted. In the
event the district court adopts this recommendation,
Defendants' Motion to Dismiss may be considered by the
who is Director of Procurement for RCRC, brings his
defamation cause of action against RCRC and Director Brown;
his civil conspiracy claim is pleaded against Brown,
Stringer, and Dickerson (collectively, the "Individual
Defendants"). These claims are based on alleged actions
that took place in connection with Plaintiff's RCRC
employment. Plaintiff filed his Complaint in state court on
April 20, 2016.
referenced in Plaintiff's Complaint but figuring
prominently in Defendants' Notice of Removal, Plaintiff
also filed a Charge of Discrimination with the South Carolina
Human Affairs Commission ("SHAC") and the federal
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ("EEOC")
[hereinafter, the "Charge"]. Plaintiff signed the
Charge on March 11, 2016. See ex. B to Notice of
Removal, ECF No. 1-2. Plaintiff acknowledges having filed the
Charge and does not object to having the Charge considered in
ruling on the Motion to Remand. See BGC Partners
Inc. v. Avison Young (Canada) Inc., No.
2:15-cv-02057-DCN, 2015 WL 7458593, at *1 n.2 (D.S.C. Nov.
24, 2015) ("On a motion to remand for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction, the court may consider materials outside
of the complaint including documents appended to a notice of
removal or a motion to remand that convey information
essential to the court's jurisdictional analysis' and
may assume the truth of facts raised in the complaint that
are non-jurisdictional.") (citation omitted).
characterizes the Charge as having been filed so that
"SHAC and the EEOC could "investigate claims of
retaliation and discrimination[.]" Pl.'s Mem. 4.
Plaintiff further notes that the claims are "still under
investigation and neither entity has issued a right to sue
and the Plaintiff has not pled claims of federal
discrimination." Id. at 3-4.
seeks remand to the Richland County Court of Common Pleas,
arguing there is no basis for federal jurisdiction because
only state-law relief is sought. Federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction. A defendant in a case in a state court
may remove that case to a federal district court only if the
state court action could have been originally filed in a
federal district court. 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1441(a) (A civil action
may be removed from state court only if the case involves
matters over which "the district courts of the United
States have original jurisdiction...."). Generally, a
case can be originally filed in a federal district court if
there is diversity of citizenship and over $75, 000 at issue
under 28 U.S.C. Â§ 1332 or there if there is so-called
"federal question" jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. Â§
1331, which vests the district courts with original
jurisdiction "of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
Title 28, United States Code Â§ 1447(c) governs the remand to
state court of removed actions, and provides in relevant
A motion to remand the case on the basis of any defect other
than lack of subject matter jurisdiction must be made within
30 days after the filing of the notice of removal under
section 1446(a). If at any time before final judgment it
appears that the district ...