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Davis v. Hampton Regional Medical Center

United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Beaufort Division

November 20, 2018

Rita Davis, Plaintiffs,
v.
Hampton Regional Medical Center and South Carolina Association of Counties, Defendants.

          ORDER AND OPINION

          RICHARD M. GERGEL UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE.

         This matter comes before the court on Plaintiff Rita Davis' motion to remand (Dkt. No. 10). For the reasons below, this Court grants Plaintiffs motion to remand.

         I. Background

         Plaintiff Rita Davis filed a Complaint in the Hampton County Court of Common Pleas on September 24, 2018, alleging that the Defendants Hampton Regional Medical Center and the South Carolina Association of Counties (collectively "Defendants") illegally garnished her wages for an outstanding medical debt. (Dkt. No. 1-1.) Plaintiff asserted causes of action for common law conversion, and violation of the South Carolina Consumer Protection Code, South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act, South Carolina Constitution, Federal Fair Debt Collection Act, and the Federal Constitution. (Dkt. No. 1-1 at ¶¶ 18 - 47.) On October 23, 2018, Defendants removed the case to this Court based on federal question jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 1.) Thirteen days later, on November 5, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint that removed all claims under the Fair Debt Collection Act and the Federal Constitution but was otherwise unchanged. (Dkt. No. 9.)

         Plaintiff moves to remand the case, arguing that the Court lacks jurisdiction as the case no longer includes federal claims. (Dkt. No. 10.) Defendants oppose the motion. (Dkt. Nos. 14, 15.)

         II. Legal Standards

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Strawn v. AT & T Mobility LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 296 (4th Cir. 2008) (citation omitted). A defendant removing a case to federal court bears the burden of establishing that federal jurisdiction is proper. Id. (citations omitted). The existence of federal jurisdiction is determined at the time the defendant files his notice of removal. See Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305 U.S. 534, 537 (1939) (citations omitted). "On a motion to remand, the court must strictly construe the removal statute and resolve all doubts in favor of remanding the case to state court, indicative of the reluctance of federal courts to interfere with matters properly before a state court." Gallagher v. Fed. Signal Corp., 524 F.Supp.2d 724, 726 (D. Md. 2007) (citation omitted). If there is any doubt regarding the existence of federal jurisdiction, the case must be remanded. Md. Stadium Auth. v. Ellerbe Becket Inc., 407 F.3d 255, 260 (4th Cir. 2005) citing Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chem. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994).

         III. Discussion

         There is no doubt that this Court lacks either federal question or diversity jurisdiction. All parties are citizens of South Carolina (Dkt. No. 9 at ¶¶ 1 - 4.) and the Amended Complaint no longer contains any claims under federal law or the Constitution. Instead, the Defendants argue that the Court should continue to exert jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, which provides for supplemental jurisdiction over claims that otherwise would not fall under the Court's subject matter jurisdiction. § 1367(c) provides that:

[T]he 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 jurisdiction,
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original ...

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