United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania
PAMELA WATSON, et. al, Plaintiffs,
SCOTLANDYARD SECURITY SERVICES, LTD., Defendant.
CATHY BISSOON, District Judge.
For the reasons stated below, Plaintiffs' Motions to Dismiss Counts II and IV (Docs. 28, 30) will be granted, and Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand to State Court (Doc. 26) will be denied.
BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
Plaintiffs Pamela Watson and John Moon ("Plaintiffs") filed a Complaint (Doc. 1-2) against their employer, Defendant Scotlandyard Security Services, LTD ("Defendant"), in the Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County on July 3, 2012. Counts I and III of the Complaint alleged violations of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Act, 43 Pa. Con. Stat. § 951 et seq., and Counts II and IV alleged violations of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e, et seq.
Defendant filed a Notice of Removal (Doc. 1) on August 14, 2012, on the grounds of federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. During the eighteen months since this case has been in federal court, the parties have participated in a Local Rule 16.1 Scheduling Conference. The Court has also overseen one dispositive motion, namely, Defendant's Motion for Summary Judgment (Doc. 13), which the Court denied on October 18, 2013. As of the date of this Order, discovery is set to end on January 31, 2014, and a Post-Discovery Status/Settlement Conference is scheduled for February 28, 2014.
On January 15, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand (Doc. 26), and then filed a Stipulation/Motion for Dismissal of Federal Claims (Doc. 28). Together, the motions seek to withdraw Plaintiffs' federal claims (Counts II and IV) and obtain a remand to state court for the adjudication of the remaining state claims. Plaintiffs later filed a Motion to Dismiss (Doc. 30) to clarify that they wished to dismiss these claims with prejudice. Defendant opposes these motions and has filed a Brief in Opposition (Doc. 29), to which Plaintiffs filed a Reply (Doc. 32).
A. Motion for Voluntary Dismissal of Plaintiffs' Federal Claims
Plaintiffs wish to dismiss their federal employment discrimination claims for the purpose of obtaining a remand to state court. While Plaintiffs do not provide specific authority for such dismissal, it appears that Plaintiffs wish to dismiss their federal claims under Rule 41(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. Defendant argues that the Court should deny Plaintiffs' Motion for Voluntary Dismissal, and urges that Defendant should be awarded costs and attorney's fees if Plaintiffs are allowed to withdraw their federal claims. Def.'s Br. in Opp. (Doc. 29) at 2.
Rule 41(a)(2) provides that if a Defendant has already filed an answer or a motion for summary judgment, "an action may be dismissed at the plaintiff's request only by court order, on terms that the court considers proper." Fed.R.Civ.P. 41(a)(2). When considering dismissal under Rule 41(a)(2), "it becomes necessary to decide the presence or extent of any prejudice to the defendant." Ferguson v. Eakle , 492 F.2d 26, 29 (3d Cir. 1974). The Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has held that "Rule 41 Motions should be allowed unless defendant will suffer some prejudice other than the mere prospect of a second lawsuit." In re Paoli R.R. Yard PCB Litigation , 916 F.2d 829, 863 (3d Cir. 1990) (internal citations omitted).
Here, all of Plaintiffs' claims consist of allegations of employment discrimination, under both federal and state statutes. If Plaintiffs' federal claims are dismissed, Plaintiffs' duplicative state claims will still remain. Therefore, this case will still be a discrimination case, and all of the discovery conducted thus far will be equally applicable to the remaining state claims. Moreover, Plaintiffs have clarified in their Motion (Doc. 30) that they wish to withdraw these federal claims with prejudice, so Defendant here does not even bear the risk of a second lawsuit. Since Defendant would not be prejudiced by the dismissal of the federal claims, the Court will permit Plaintiffs to withdraw these claims with prejudice.
The Court recognizes that an award of attorney's fees is "very common as a condition to a voluntary dismissal." Pittsburgh Jaycees v. U.S. Jaycees, 89 F.R.D. 454, 455 (W.D. Pa. 1981). However, the purpose of such an award is "to compensate the defendant for having incurred the expense of trial preparation without the benefit of a final determination." Citizens Sav. Ass'n v. Franciscus , 120 F.R.D. 22, 25 (M.D. Pa. 1988) (internal citations omitted). Here, the federal claims are being dismissed with prejudice, and therefore, Defendant has already received the benefit of a final determination on these claims. Moreover, as described above, all of the discovery conducted ...