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Krause v. Philadelphia Soul

April 30, 2009

JOSEPH E. KRAUSE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
THE PHILADELPHIA SOUL, A/K/A AFL PHILADELPHIA, LLC; CRAIG SPENCER, JON BON JOVI; LEO CARLIN, JR.; PAUL KORZILIUS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Baylson, J.

MEMORANDUM RE: MOTION TO REMAND

Presently before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. This case arises from an employment dispute between Plaintiff and his employers. Defendants removed the case, initially filed in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, on grounds of federal question jurisdiction, and Plaintiff now seeks to remand the suit back to state court.

I. Background Facts and Procedural History

Plaintiff filed his initial Complaint in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on January 9, 2009. (Doc. 1, Ex. A). In that Complaint, Plaintiff alleged claims of breach of contract, quantum meruit, and violation of the Pennsylvania Wage Payment and Collection Law ("WPCL") arising out of Plaintiff's employment with and subsequent termination by Defendants. (Id.) On February 12, 2009, two of the Defendants in the present case, Jon Bon Jovi and AFL Philadelphia, LLC filed another suit in federal court in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, which alleged copyright infringement and other intellectual property violations as well as several additional state and federal claims against Plaintiff in the instant case. (See 09-cv-614, Doc. 1).

After Bon Jovi and AFL Philadelphia filed the federal suit, Plaintiff amended his state court Complaint in the initial suit to include factual allegations concerning the federal suit. (Doc. 1, Ex. B). Under a new facts section titled "Philadelphia Soul and Bon Jovi Retaliate Against Krause," Plaintiff describes the federal law suit, alleges that the federal suit is "frivolous" and evidence of Defendants' "bad faith," and requests attorney's fees for both prosecuting this case and defending the federal copyright suit. The Amended Complaint does not add any new counts or causes of action, but in the WPCL claim (Count III), Plaintiff added another request for attorneys fees for defending the allegedly frivolous federal law suit.

Based on those new allegations in the Amended Complaint, Defendants removed the case to federal court on March 14, 2009, asserting federal question jurisdiction. (Doc. 1). Defendants then filed a Motion to Strike Portions of the Amended Complaint that are allegedly defamatory and irrelevant. (Doc. 8). On March 30, 2009, Plaintiff filed the Motion to Remand arguing that the Amended Complaint did not assert any federal cause of action, despite the additional factual allegations concerning the federal law suit, and the Court thus lacks subject matter jurisdiction. (Doc. 6). In a Rule 16 Conference, held in the courtroom on March 30, 2009, this Court agreed to refrain from deciding the Motion to Strike until the remand issue was resolved and gave Defendants ten days to file a responsive brief to the Motion to Remand. (Doc. 7). Defendants filed their Memorandum in Opposition to the Motion to Remand on April 13, 2009. (Doc. 9).

II. Parties' Arguments

Plaintiff argues that this Court lacks federal question subject matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff has not asserted any federal causes of action and none of the state law claims necessarily depend on resolution of a substantial federal question. Plaintiff maintains that the factual allegations concerning the federal suit in the Amended Complaint do not indicate that Plaintiff's claims "aris[e] under" federal law and emphasizes that the mere presence of a federal issue is insufficient to establish federal question jurisdiction. According to Plaintiff, the allegations regarding the federal law suit are intended only as evidence of Defendants' bad faith for purposes of the WPCL claim, and rather than being the "forefront" of the case, the federal issue is only collateral to the state wage claim. Thus, Plaintiff asserts removal was improper and the case should be remanded.

Defendants respond that removal was proper because Plaintiff's request for relief in Count III of the Amended Complaint requires resolution of a substantial federal issue, namely the federal copyright claim. Defendants argue that because Plaintiff asks for attorneys fees for defending the allegedly frivolous and retaliatory federal lawsuit, the Court must evaluate the merits of that suit to determine whether it was filed in bad faith. Since the Court must address a substantial question of federal law in order to provide the requested relief, Defendants suggest that federal question jurisdiction exists and removal was therefore proper.

III. Legal Standards

A. Jurisdiction

This Court has jurisdiction over the federal claim removed from state court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1441(a). This Court has supplemental jurisdiction to entertain claims arising under state law pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367.

B. Standard of Review

Under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1441(a), a defendant may remove a civil action filed in a state court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the action. "The defendants bear the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction and compliance with all pertinent procedural requirements." Winnick v. Pratt, 2003 WL 21204467, at *2 (E.D. ...


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