United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
action was originally filed by the plaintiff in the Court of
Common Pleas of Lehigh County, then removed by defendants to
this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction.
one-count Complaint, plaintiff alleges that the defendants
retaliated against her by terminating her employment in
violation of the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law, 43 P.S.
§ 1423(a). Specifically, plaintiff alleges that a
co-worker's supervisor's discriminatory and harassing
conduct constitutes “wrongdoing” under the
Whistleblower Law because it violates state and federal
statutes, namely Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964
(“Title VII”), the Pennsylvania Human Relations
Act (“PHRA”), and “various other federal
and state laws.” (Compl. at ¶¶ 37-38.)
filed a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim. (ECF
3.) Plaintiff responded by filing a motion to remand,
claiming there is no diversity of citizenship among the
parties and the Complaint only raises a question of state
law, i.e., a violation of the Pennsylvania Whistleblower Law.
(ECF 12.) Plaintiff also filed an unopposed motion for an
enlargement of time to respond to defendants' motion to
dismiss, pending resolution of the motion to remand. (ECF
13.) The Court granted this motion. (ECF 14.) Defendants then
filed a response to the motion to remand, claiming that
embedded in plaintiff's Whistleblower Law claim is a
federal claim for violation of Title VII and, as a result,
plaintiff's Complaint does raise a substantial and actual
federal question. (Doc. 15.) By Memorandum Opinion and Order
entered on January 9, 2017, the Court agreed with defendants
and denied the motion to remand. (ECF 16, 17.)
the Court found that it had subject matter jurisdiction over
plaintiff's Whistleblower Law claim because the claim
necessarily raises a stated federal issue, actually disputed
and substantial, which the Court may entertain without
disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal
and state judicial responsibilities. See Grable &
Sons Metal Prods. v. Darue Engineering & Mfg., 545
U.S. 308, 314 (2005).
Court distinguished a case referenced by plaintiff, Seal
v. University of Pittsburgh, 766 F.Supp. 386 (W.D. Pa.
1991), wherein the Court declined to exercise pendent
jurisdiction over the plaintiff's breach of contract,
wrongful discharge, and Whistleblower Law claims after the
parties stipulated to the dismissal of his federal civil
rights claim-the only question of federal law at issue
in that action. 766 F.Supp. at 387-88. This Court
specifically noted that plaintiff had not offered to dismiss
her embedded Title VII claim in this case.
January 18, 2017, plaintiff filed a motion for
reconsideration of the Court's January 9, 2017 Opinion
and Order in which she notes that she offered to stipulate to
the dismissal of her embedded Title VII claim and any other
federal claims and proceed only with an embedded state law
claim under the PHRA. (ECF 19.) Defendants did not respond to
plaintiff's offer. Accordingly, by Order filed on
February 16, 2017, the Court permitted plaintiff to file a
motion to amend the complaint to exclude any reference to any
federal claims. (ECF 25.) On February 21, 2017, plaintiff
filed a motion to amend the complaint along with a copy of
the proposed amended complaint (which erroneously contains
the heading of the Court of Common Pleas of Lehigh County).
(ECF 26.) Defendants oppose this motion (ECF 27.) For the
reasons that follow, the motion is granted.
of leave to amend is within the discretion of the district
court. See Zenith Radio Corp. v. Hazeltine Research,
Inc., 401 U.S. 321, 330 (1971) (citing Foman v.
Davis, 371 U.S. 178, 182 (1962)); see also Gay v.
Petsock, 917 F.2d 768, 772 (3d Cir. 1990) (articulating
that abuse of discretion is the standard of review for
decisions on leave to amend pleadings). Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 15(a) provides that the Court should “freely
give leave” for a party to file an amended pleading
“when justice so requires.” The “burden is
generally on the non-moving party to demonstrate why leave to
amend should not be granted. (citing Foman, 371 U.S.
at 182). The Court may deny a request to amend a pleading
only when the following circumstances exist:
“‘(1) the moving party has demonstrated undue
delay, bad faith, or dilatory motives, (2) the amendment
would be futile, or (3) the amendment would prejudice the
other part[ies].'” Juan v. Sanchez, 339 F.
App'x 182, 187 (3d Cir. 2009) (quoting Lake v.
Arnold, 232 F.3d 360, 373 (3d Cir. 2000)). Delay alone
is insufficient to deny a plaintiff's motion to amend a
complaint. USX Corp. v. Barnhart, 395 F.3d 161, 167
(3d Cir. 2004). However, if “delay . . [has] become
‘undue, ' placing an unwarranted burden on the
court, or . . . [has] become ‘prejudicial, '
placing an unfair burden on the opposing party, ” delay
may be sufficient to deny a motion to amend. Adams v.
Gould, Inc., 739 F.2d 858, 868 (3d Cir. 1984) (citing
Chitimacha Tribe of Louisiana v. Harry L. Laws Co.,
690 F.2d 1157, 1163 (5th Cir.1982); Tefft v. Seward,
689 F.2d 637, 639 (6th Cir.1982).
first argue that plaintiff has unduly delayed moving to amend
her complaint. According to defendants, plaintiff was on
notice that her complaint contained an embedded federal claim
when defendants filed their response to plaintiff's
motion to remand. The Court, however, does not fault
plaintiff for pursuing a remand based on the allegations
contained in the original complaint as the question of
whether plaintiff alleged an embedded federal claim was not
clear cut and defendants had to satisfy the Grable
standard. After the Court denied her motion to remand,
plaintiff immediately offered to stipulate to the dismissal
of any embedded federal claims, and when defendants did not
respond, promptly moved to amend her complaint Defendants
also argue that any amendment would be futile because
plaintiffs cannot state a claim under the Whistleblower Law.
In doing so, defendants raise essentially the same arguments
they raised in their motion to dismiss for failure to state a
claim. However, the Court already ruled that it needed to
address the jurisdictional motion to remand before it
addressed the merits of defendants' motion to dismiss.
The merits of plaintiff's Whistleblower Law claim are
better left to the state court.
do not meet any of the standards to support denial of
plaintiff's motion to amend. Accordingly, the Court will
grant the plaintiff's motion to amend. After plaintiff
files her amended complaint (with the proper heading)
eliminating any direct federal or embedded federal claims,
the Court will grant plaintiff's outstanding ...