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Lennette v. Siver

United States District Court, N.D. Iowa, Cedar Rapids Division

August 10, 2017

ANDREW LENNETTE, Individually and on behalf of C.L., O.L. and S.L., Minors, Plaintiffs,
MELODY SIVER et al., Defendants.




         The matters before the court are Plaintiff Andrew Lennette's “Motion to Amend Complaint to Withdraw Claim Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. [§] 1983” (“Motion to Amend”) (docket no. 21) and Motion to Remand (docket no. 22) (collectively, “Motions”).


         On January 2, 2017, Lennette filed a “Petition at Law and Jury Demand” (“Petition”) (docket no. 3) in the Iowa District Court for Linn County, Iowa (“Iowa District Court”). In the Petition, Lennette asserts that Melody Siver, Amy Howell and Valerie Lovaglia (collectively “DHS Investigators”) violated his rights and he seeks relief pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983. See Petition at 15-16. The Petition also asserts various claims under Iowa law against St. Luke's Methodist Hospital (“St. Luke's”) and the Grace C. Mae Advocate Center, Inc. (“Center”).

         On February 10, 2017, the DHS Investigators filed a Notice of Removal (docket no. 2), bringing the case before the court. On February 17, 2017, the DHS Investigators filed a Motion to Dismiss (docket no. 6). On August 7, 2017, Lennette filed the Motions. The Motion to Amend states that the DHS Investigators do not resist the motion. See Motion to Amend at 3. On August 9, 2017, St. Luke's filed a Resistance (docket no. 23) to the Motion to Remand. The Center, which is not implicated by the § 1983 claim, has not yet responded. However, in the interest of judicial efficiency, and because the Motions appear noncontroversial, the court will proceed to consider the Motions. See LR 7(e) (“If a motion appears to be noncontroversial, or if circumstances otherwise warrant, the court may elect to rule on a motion without waiting for a resistance or response.”).


         The court has original jurisdiction over the § 1983 claims because they arise under the United States Code. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (“The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”). The court has supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining claims because they are so related to the claims within the court's original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (“[T]he district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy . . . .”). In other words, “the federal-law claims and state-law claims in the case ‘derive from a common nucleus of operative fact' and are ‘such that [a plaintiff] would ordinarily be expected to try them all in one judicial proceeding.'” Kan. Pub. Emps. Ret. Sys. v. Reimer & Koger Assocs., Inc., 77 F.3d 1063, 1067 (8th Cir. 1996) (quoting Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 349 (1988)) (alteration in original).


         In the Motion to Amend, Lennette “seeks to withdraw his cause of action against the [DHS Investigators] based on 42 U.S.C. § 1983, ” which would result in their dismissal from this action. Motion to Amend at 2. Lennette explains that a recent Iowa Supreme Court Case, Godfrey v. State, N.W.2d, 2017 WL 2825878 (Iowa 2017), recognizes “claims against the State and its employees under the Iowa Constitution.” Motion to Amend at 2. Lennette intends to “file suit in state court on all tort claims including the Iowa Constitutional claims.” Id.

         The Federal Rules of Civil Procedure provide that a party may amend a pleading once as a matter of course within twenty-one days after service of a Rule 12(b) motion. Fed.R.Civ.P. 15(a)(1)(B). However, Lennette did not seek to amend the Petition within the necessary time period. As such, pursuant to the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, Lennette may only amend the Petition “with the opposing party's written consent or the court's leave.” Id. 15(a)(2). “The court should freely give leave when justice so requires.” Id. “[D]enial of leave to amend may be justified by undue delay, bad faith on the part of the moving party, futility of the amendment or unfair prejudice to the opposing party.” Crest Constr. II, Inc. v. Doe, 660 F.3d 346, 358-59 (8th Cir. 2011) (quoting United States ex rel. Joshi v. St. Luke's Hosp., Inc., 441 F.3d 552, 557-58 (8th Cir. 2006)).

         The court shall grant the Motion to Amend. Lennette did not unduly delay filing the Motion to Amend because it was filed approximately a month after the Iowa Supreme Court issued the Godfrey opinion, which permitted Lennette to file his claims in state court. See Godfrey, 2017 WL 2825878. There is no evidence that the Motion to Amend is brought in bad faith. Nor is the Motion to Amend prejudicial, as it results in dismissal of the DHS Investigators from the suit and leaves the status of the other Defendants substantially unchanged. Additionally, the DHS Investigators-the only Defendants implicated in the § 1983 claims-do not resist the Motion to Amend. See Motion to Amend at 3. Accordingly, the court shall grant the Motion to Amend to allow Lennette to withdraw his § 1983 claims and dismiss the DHS Investigators.


         In the Motion to Remand, Lennette states that “[w]ithdrawal of [his] [§] 1983 claims removes all claims over which th[e] [c]ourt has original jurisdiction.” Motion to Remand at 2. He further contends that remand to the Iowa District Court is appropriate. Id. at 3. Lennette points to the relatively brief time that the case has been in federal court, the limited involvement of the court, the length of time before trial is set to begin and the efficiency and convenience of trying all cases together in state court. Id. In its Resistance, St. Luke's argues that the court should retain jurisdiction over the state law claims because the issues presented in its Motion to Dismiss (“St. Luke's Motion to Dismiss”) (docket no. 10) “are governed by well-established law and are routinely addressed by th[e] [c]ourt.” Resistance at ...

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