United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Galveston Division
C HANKS JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Dong Sheng Huang, filed this lawsuit in September 2015,
alleging that he was unlawfully arrested after visiting a
Murphy Oil gas station in La Marque, Texas. Huang sued Murphy
Oil, two Murphy Oil employees (Hill and Williams), and
various state actors, law enforcement officers, and agents.
Murphy Oil, Hill, and Williams each asserted cross-claims
against the state actors, law enforcement officers, and
successive amended complaints and motions to dismiss were
filed, on January 6, 2017, this Court granted the motions to
dismiss filed by Defendants Chief Aragon, Officer Michael
Kelemen, Officer Richard Dricks, the City of La Marque, and
Christina Balvantin. Murphy Oil, Hill, and Williams then
withdrew their cross-claims against these Defendants, but
reserved the right to name them as Responsible Third Parties
under Texas law.
Court then issued a new docket control order, putting into
place deadlines that had been agreed to by Huang, Murphy Oil,
Hill, and Williams. Dkt. 104, 106. Trial in this case is now
set for August 18, 2017-approximately six months from now.
live complaint alleges that Hill and Williams procured his
arrest for criminal trespass by intentionally providing false
information to police officers and 911 operators. He brings
claims under Texas law against Hill and Williams for false
imprisonment and malicious prosecution, and he alleges that
Murphy Oil, their employer, is also liable under principles
of respondeat superior. Huang seeks compensatory damages,
including mental anguish, and punitive damages.
Murphy Oil, Hill, and Williams ask that this Court decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Huang's claims
against them. Dkt. 105. Murphy Oil, Hill, and Williams argue
that this case “has expended little federal judicial
resources” and has “essentially remained
dormant.” Further, they contend that there is no
indication that this Court has become “intimately
familiar with any of the state law claims made by the
Plaintiff in that same have not been subject to any ruling or
examination by the Court to date.” Additionally, they
assure the Court there would be little “inconvenience
on the parties.” Huang is opposed to the motion.
deciding whether to retain jurisdiction over pendent state
law claims, the Fifth Circuit has instructed district courts
to consider the factors set out in 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c),
as well the common law factors of judicial economy,
convenience, fairness, and comity-with no singular factor
being dispositive. Enochs v. Lampasas Cnty., 641
F.3d 155, 159 (5th Cir. 2011).
1367(c) states that a district court “may”
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim
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 jurisdiction, or (4) in
exceptional circumstances, there are other compelling reasons
for declining jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). As a
general rule, the court should dismiss state claims if the
federal claims to which they are pendent are dismissed.
Enochs, 641 F.3d at 161. Under applicable Fifth
Circuit law, the court should also consider the length of
time a matter has been pending in federal court, whether
discovery had been completed, and whether the district court
judge had substantial familiarity with the merits of case.
Brookshire Bros. Holding v. DayCo Prods., Inc., 554
F.3d 595, 603 (5th Cir. 2009).
Court now turns to Section 1367(c). The first factor weighs
in favor of retention, as even the Defendants here concede
that this case does not appear to present any novel or
complex issues of state law. See, e.g., Wilson v.
Tregre, 787 F.3d 322, 326 (5th Cir. 2015) (finding that
the district court did not abuse its discretion in exercising
supplemental jurisdiction over state law whistleblower claims
after dismissing plaintiff's First Amendment claims,
“because Wilson's state-law claims were neither
novel nor complex”). The second factor appears to weigh
in favor of dismissal, because state law issues do
“substantially predominate” in Huang's
malicious prosecution and false imprisonment claims, but the
Court also notes that Defendants themselves have pointed to
the law enforcement officers who arrested and prosecuted
Huang as Responsible Third Parties under Texas law-claims
which implicate Fourth Amendment and other constitutional
rights. The third factor also appears to weigh in favor of
dismissal, since the Court has dismissed the Section 1983
claims against the law enforcement officers and agents.
However, the Court also notes here that Murphy Oil is not a
Texas corporation, and, if Huang dismisses his claims against
Hill and Williams, or if the Court finds that those claims
are effectively claims against their employer, then
Huang's claims might sound in diversity. Next, the Court
turns to the fourth factor, i.e., whether there are
other compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction. The
Court finds there are not.
fact, when the Court considers the additional common law
factors of “judicial economy, convenience, fairness,
and comity, ” Mendoza v. Murphy, 532 F.3d 342,
346 (5th Cir. 2008), the Court finds that it should retain
supplemental jurisdiction over this case. First, although
Defendants now seek to minimize its importance, discovery has
been underway for some time in this 2015 case. In October
2016, Defendants Murphy Oil, Hill and Williams themselves
propounded written discovery to Huang in the form of
Interrogatories and Requests for Production. Significantly,
these Defendants also asked this Court for partial summary
judgment in their favor on the statute of limitations for
Huang's malicious prosecution claims against them,
although they subsequently second-guessed their argument and
sought to withdraw the motion before the Court denied it as a
matter of law.
this Court is well familiar with the allegations raised by
Mr. Huang, who is appearing pro se and in forma
pauperis, regarding the events on the night of his
arrest. In light of this familiarity, as well as the
procedural posture of the case, and in light of the pending
trial date, the Court will exercise its considerable
discretion in this matter, and it will retain jurisdiction
over Huang's claims against the remaining Defendants in
Defendant's motion, ...