United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
FISH, SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 9, 2013, the plaintiff Kevin Godert
(“Godert”) began to work for the defendant Palo
Alto Networks, Inc., (“PAN”) as an appointment
setter. See Plaintiffs' Original Petition and
Request for Disclosure (“Petition”) ¶ 5,
attached to Notice of Removal (“Notice”)
(docket entry 1); Plaintiff's Response to Defendant's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment (“Response”)
at 5-6 (docket entry 33). Godert asserts that Kevin Hemphill
(“Hemphill”), his direct supervisor, assaulted
him on April 1, 2015. Response at 7-8. On February 5, 2016,
Godert voluntarily resigned his position at PAN, but he
maintains that he was “was forced to terminate his
employment . . . as a result of the unrelenting torment
dished out by [Hemphill]. . . .” Petition ¶ 5;
Response at 7-10; Defendant Palo Alto Networks, Inc.'s
Brief in Support of Partial Summary Judgment
(“Motion”) at 1 (docket entry 27).
provided workers' compensation coverage to its employees.
Motion at 10; Appendix to Defendant Palo Alto Network [sic],
Inc.'s Brief in Support of Motion for Partial Summary
Judgment (“Appendix”) at APP. 000148, 000201-202
(docket entry 28). PAN's employee handbook states that
PAN provides workers' compensation coverage to all
employees, and Godert that admits he received the handbook.
Reply at 5; APP. 000048; see also APP. 00109,
000111. Godert did not file a workers' compensation claim
as a result of the April 1, 2015 incident with Hemphill.
Appendix at APP. 000029.
21, 2016, Godert filed this case in the County Court at Law
No. 2 in Dallas County, Texas, on behalf of himself and
similarly situated employees. See generally
Petition; Notice at 1. Godert asserted state law claims for
negligence, negligent supervision, and assault, alleging that
PAN failed to prevent Hemphill's assault on him. See
generally Petition; see also Response at 7-10.
He asserted an additional state law claim for breach of
contract due to PAN's “ever-shifting commission
plans.” Response at 10; see also Petition at
7. He brought one federal claim for the payment of wages and
overtime compensation under the Fair Labor Standards Act
(“FLSA”). Petition at 6-7. Specifically, Godert
contends that “[a]lthough [he], and most of his
co-workers, worked more than forty hours per workweek, and
were encouraged to do so by PAN's upper management, they
never received any form of overtime pay.” Response at
18, 2016, PAN removed the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1331 based upon the federal question raised by Godert. Notice
U.S.C. § 1441(a) permits the removal of “any civil
action brought in a [s]tate court of which the district
courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The statute
allows a defendant to “remove a state court action to
federal court only if the action could have originally been
filed in federal court.” Anderson v. American
Airlines, Inc., 2 F.3d 590, 593 (5th Cir. 1993).
However, the removal statute must be strictly construed
because “removal jurisdiction raises significant
federalism concerns.” Willy v. Coastal
Corporation, 855 F.2d 1160, 1164 (5th Cir. 1988); see
also Gutierrez v. Flores, 543 F.3d 248, 251 (5th
Cir. 2008). Therefore, “any doubts concerning removal
must be resolved against removal and in favor of remanding
the case back to state court.” Cross v. Bankers
Multiple Line Insurance Company, 810 F.Supp. 748, 750
(N.D. Tex. 1992) (Means, J.); see also Shamrock Oil &
Gas Corporation v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941).
The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing
federal jurisdiction. Willy, 855 F.2d at 1164.
are two principal bases upon which a district court may
exercise removal jurisdiction: the existence of a federal
question, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and complete
diversity of citizenship among the parties. See 28
U.S.C. § 1332. PAN removed the case pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331. Notice at 2. PAN contended that this
court has supplemental jurisdiction over Godert's state
law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367 because the
state law claims also arise out of Godert's employment
with PAN and “are so related to the federal claim that
they form part of the same case or controversy.”
Non-Removable Workers' Compensation Claims
issue before this court is whether Godert's claims for
negligence, negligent supervision, and assault “arise
under” Texas' workers' compensation laws,
precluding removal of these claims to this court and
requiring a remand to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1445(c). Section 1445(c) provides that “[a]
civil action in any State court arising under the
workmen's compensation laws of such State may not be
removed to any district court of the United States.” 28
U.S.C. § 1445(c).
the removing party, now contends that Godert's claims for
negligence, negligent supervision, and assault are barred, as
a matter of law, by the exclusivity provision of the Texas
Workers' Compensation Act (“the Act”), Tex.
Lab. Code §§ 401.001 et seq. Motion at
9-12. Under the Act, the recovery of workers'
compensation benefits “is the exclusive remedy of an
employee covered by workers' compensation insurance
coverage . . . against the employer or an agent or employee
of the employer for . . . a work-related injury sustained by
the employee.” Id. § 408.001(a). Because
Godert's claims for negligence, negligent supervision,
and assault arise ...