Cavanaugh v. Equifax Info. Servs., 2018 U.S. Dist LEXIS 169911 (D. Me. Oct. 2, 2018) is a recent and good reminder of the difficulties plaintiffs face when attempting to remand FCRA cases based on additional state law claims.
The plaintiff originally filed his complaint seeking damages under FCRA in the Cumberland County Superior Court. Defendant Equifax removed the matter to federal district court, and plaintiff filed a motion to remand. Plaintiff argued- rather weakly- that he “intended” to include state law causes of action in his complaint, and that the case should therefore be returned to state court.
The district court made two critical, and correct, observations. First, under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed . . .” Because the federal district court had original jurisdiction over the FCRA claim, it could be removed. Second, under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c), as long as the federal district court had supplemental jurisdiction over any additional state law claims, the entire lawsuit could be removed. A district court need not sever and remand a state law cause of action unless the district court lacks supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. In this case, the district court found that, because any potential state law claim “form[s] part of the same case or controversy” as the FCRA claim, the district court retained jurisdiction over the entire case, and denied the motion to remand.