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Levinson v. Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale & Dorr LLP

United States District Court, D. Columbia.

November 25, 2013

PAMELA LEVINSON, Plaintiff,
v.
WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP, Defendant

For PAMELA LEVINSON, Plaintiff: Brandon Jamison, David W. Sanford, LEAD ATTORNEYS, SANFORD HEISLER, LLP, Washington, DC.

For WILMER CUTLER PICKERING HALE AND DORR LLP, Defendant: Barbara Berish Brown, LEAD ATTORNEY, PAUL HASTINGS LLP, Washington, DC.

OPINION

AMY BERMAN JACKSON, United States District Judge.

Page 227

MEMORANDUM OPINION

Plaintiff Pamela Levinson filed her original and first amended complaints against defendant Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP (" WilmerHale" ) in the Superior Court for the District of Columbia, alleging violations of the District of Columbia Family and Medical Leave Act and the District of Columbia Human Rights Act (" D.C. law claims" ), and common law breach of contract and of the duty of good faith and fair dealing (" common law claims" ). Notice of Removal Ex. A [Dkt. # 1-1, 1-2]. Ms. Levinson's common law claims relate to WilmerHale's retirement benefits plan. Id. Defendant removed the action to federal court on the ground that the common law claims are " completely preempted" by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (" ERISA" ), 29 U.S.C. § 1001 et seq., and are therefore federal in character. Def.'s Opp. to Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to Amend and Mot. to Remand at 2 [Dkt. # 11] (" Def.'s Opp." ). One month after defendant's removal, plaintiff filed the Motion to Remand [Dkt. # 9] and Motion for Leave to File Second Amended Complaint [Dkt. # 10] that are now before this Court. The proposed second amended complaint eliminates the claims that defendant contends are preempted by ERISA. Pl.'s Mot. for Leave to File 2d Am. Compl. at 1 (" Mot. to Amend" ).

Because the Court finds no reason to prevent plaintiff from amending her complaint in this manner, that motion will be granted. In addition, plaintiff's remaining claims will be remanded to the Superior Court in the interest of comity.

STANDARD OF REVIEW

I. Motion for Leave to File Amended Complaint

When a party seeks to amend its pleading after a responsive pleading has been served, the Court should " freely give leave when justice so requires." Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(2); see Firestone v. Firestone, 76 F.3d 1205, 1209, 316 U.S.App. D.C. 152 (D.C. Cir. 1996). When evaluating whether to grant a party's motion for leave to amend its pleading, the Court must consider: (1) undue delay; (2) prejudice to the opposing party; (3) futility of the amendment; (4) bad faith; and (5) whether the plaintiff has previously amended the complaint. Atchinson v. District of Columbia, 73 F.3d 418, 425, 315 U.S.App. D.C. 318 (D.C. Cir. 1996), quoting Foman v. Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182, 83 S.Ct. 227, 9 L.Ed.2d 222 (1962). " [A] district court should grant leave to amend a complaint '[i]n the absence of'" these factors. Id., quoting Foman, 371 U.S. at 182.

II. Motion to Remand

A defendant has the right to remove an action from state to federal court when the action could have originally been brought in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a) (2012). If a case removed to federal court encompasses both federal and state claims, the district court has supplemental jurisdiction over any state claims that " are so related" to the federal claims " that they form part of the same case or controversy." Id. § 1367(a). But the court may, in its discretion, " decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a [state] claim . . . [if] the claim substantially predominates over the [federal] claim or

Page 228

claims." Id. § 1367(c). In addition, " in the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors to be considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine--judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity--will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims." Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n.7, 108 S.Ct. 614, 98 L.Ed.2d 720 (1988); see Edmondson & ...


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