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Trevino v. Steinreal 1 Family Limited Partnership

United States District Court, W.D. Texas, San Antonio Division

September 16, 2019

EDDIE TREVINO, Plaintiff,
v.
STEINREAL 1 FAMILY LIMITED PARTNERSHIP, d/b/a NACO CENTRO, ARTHUR NEWMAN, deceased; HARRY E. NEWMAN, d/b/a EL DORADO VILLAGE, and KATHLEEN KINDER, REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF ARTHUR NEWMAN, Defendants.

          REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION OF UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

          ELIZABETH S. ("BETSY") CHESTNEY UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.

         To the Honorable United States District Judge Fred Biery:

         This Report and Recommendation concerns Plaintiff Eddie Treviño's (“Treviño”) Motion to Remand [#3], Treviño's Motion for Leave to File Complaint [#18], Treviño's Amended Motion to Remand [#22], and Treviño's Second Amended Motion to Remand [#27]. On May 13, 2019, the Honorable Fred Biery referred all pretrial proceedings in this case to the undersigned for disposition pursuant to Rule 72 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules CV-72 and 1(c) of Appendix C of the Local Rules of the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas [#8]. The undersigned has authority to enter this Report and Recommendation pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B). For the reasons set forth below, it is recommended that Treviño's Motion to Remand and Amended Motion to Remand be DENIED AS MOOT, and that Treviño's Second Amended Motion to Remand be DENIED. In addition, Trevino's Motion for Leave to File Complaint is GRANTED. Finally, it is also recommended that the Court decline to continue to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Treviño's state-law claims, and that this case be REMANDED to the 150th Judicial District Court of Bexar County, Texas.

         I. Factual and Procedural Background

         At issue is whether the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this case. The relevant procedural history is as follows. On October 4, 2016, Treviño was injured in a trip-and-fall accident in San Antonio, Texas. (Pl.'s Fifth Am. Pet.[1] at 2.) Treviño filed a petition against Steinreal Corporation in the 150th Judicial District Court of Bexar County, Texas, alleging claims for negligence and statutory violations of the Texas Commission on Human Rights Act (“the TCHRA”) and the Texas Accessibility Standards of the Texas Architectural Barriers Act (“the TABA”). Treviño thereafter filed a first amended petition, which added Arthur Newman, who was deceased, and Harry E. Newman, doing business as El Dorado Village, as defendants. Treviño then filed a second amended petition, which added Steinreal 1 Family Limited Partnership, doing business as Naco Centro, as a defendant. Treviño ultimately non-suited his claims against Steinreal Corporation. Treviño subsequently filed a third amended petition, which added Kathleen Kinder, Representative of the Estate of Arthur Newman, as a defendant. Treviño then filed a fourth amended petition. On February 25, 2019, Treviño filed a fifth amended petition, which is the live pleading in this case.

         On March 19, 2019, Defendants Harry E. Newman, doing business as El Dorado Village, and Kathleen Kinder, Representative of the Estate of Arthur Newman (“the Newman Defendants”) filed their Notice of Removal [#1] in this Court via the Case Management/Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system, and provided Treviño with a copy of the removal petition. (Doc. 4, Ex. B at 1.) The Notice of Removal invoked this Court's federal-question jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal [#1] at ¶ 3.) Later that day, Treviño filed a sixth amended petition in state court. On March 20, 2019, the Newman Defendants filed their removal petition with the clerk of the state court.

         Treviño filed a motion to remand [#3], arguing that this Court does not have subject-matter jurisdiction over this action because there is no federal question in this case. The Newman Defendants filed a response [#4], Treviño filed a reply [#5], and the Newman Defendants filed a sur-reply [#12]. The Court held an initial pretrial conference on June 18, 2019, at which argument was heard on Treviño's Motion to Remand. On June 21, 2019, Treviño filed a motion for leave to file an amended complaint [#18]. On July 8, 2019, Treviño filed an amended motion to remand [#22]. On August 28, 2019, Treviño's filed a second amended motion to remand [#27].

         As explained more fully below, the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction over this case because Treviño's complaint states a federal question. However, Treviño subsequently amended his complaint to remove all federal claims, and the Court should decline to continue to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Treviño's state-law claims and remand this matter to state court.

         II. Treviño's Second Amended Motion to Remand

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). “It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.” Id. (internal citations omitted). Because the Newman Defendants invoked the jurisdiction of the federal courts by removing Treviño's state-court case to federal court, they must prove that federal jurisdiction existed at the time of removal. See Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002) (“The removing party bears the burden of showing that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper.”).

         The Newman Defendants filed a notice of removal in this Court on March 19, 2019, asserting that Treviño's complaint raised a federal question.[2] The federal removal statute allows for the removal of “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). To determine whether jurisdiction is present for removal, the court considers the claims in the state-court petition as they existed at the time of removal. See Cavallini v. State Farm Mut. Auto Ins. Co., 44 F.3d 256, 264 (5th Cir. 1995) (“[A] complaint amended post-removal cannot divest a federal court of jurisdiction.”). “The removal statute is . . . to be strictly construed and any doubt as to the propriety of removal should be resolved in favor of remand.” In re Hot-Hed Inc., 477 F.3d 320, 323 (5th Cir. 2007).

         Federal district courts have original jurisdiction over civil cases “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. To determine whether a case “arises under” federal law, courts apply the “well-pleaded complaint” rule, under which “federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987); see also Willy v. Coastal Corp., 855 F.2d 1160, 1165 (5th Cir. 1988) (“In cases removed to federal court, the plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint, not the removal petition, must establish that the case arises under federal law.”). A well-pleaded complaint presents a federal question when it “establishes either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law.” Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Tr. for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983).

         Treviño moves to remand this action to state court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. In response, the Newman Defendants argue that Treviño's complaint states a claim created by federal law. The undersigned agrees.[3]

         On December 17, 2018, Treviño filed a fourth amended petition, which added a section titled “Application for Permanent Injunction and Declaration.” (Pl.'s Fourth Am. Pet.[4] at 7.) The last sentence of that section provides, in pertinent part: “Plaintiff hereby seek [sic] an Order: (1) directing the Defendant(s) to modify their premise to bring it into compliance with State law . . . .” (Id. at 7.) Treviño filed a fifth amended petition on February 25, 2019, which added the following language to the beginning of the above-quoted section:

On or about July 26, 1990, Congress enacted the American with Disabilities Act (“ADA”), 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq. Commercial enterprises were provided one and a half years from enactment of the statute to implement its requirements. The effective title III of the ADA was January 26, 1992, 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12181, 20 C.F.R. Sec. 36. 508(A).
Pursuant to 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12181(7) and 28 C.F. R. Sec. 36.104, the premises are places of public accommodation in that it is a business that is owned and operated by a private entity and that provides goods and services to the public.
The Defendant have discriminated and continue to discriminate against the Plaintiff and others who are similarly situated by denying safe access and equal enjoyment of the facilities in derogation of 42 U.S.C. Sec. 12101 et seq.
The ADA is codified at 28 C.F.R. Part 36, Texas Architectural Barriers Act (Tex. Govt. Code Sec. 469, et seq., Tex. Human Resource Code Sec. 121.003.

         (Fifth Am. Pet. at 7-8.) Treviño's Fifth Amended Petition also amended the last sentence of the Application for Permanent Injunction and Declaration section to state, in pertinent part: “Plaintiff hereby seek [sic] an Order: (1) directing the Defendant(s) to modify their premise to bring ...


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