United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania
to Corizon Health, Inc., it overpaid one of its nurses, John
Whitehead, to the sum of close to $30, 000. Corizon sued
Whitehead in state court, alleging a claim for breach of
contract and a claim for unjust enrichment and seeking
reimbursement for the alleged overpayment. Whitehead removed
the case to this Court. He argues that this Court has subject
matter jurisdiction because Corizon's claims are
preempted by federal law and therefore the Corizon complaint
includes a federal question. Presently before the Court is
Whitehead's motion to dismiss Corizon's complaint as
well as Corizon's motion to remand. For the reasons that
follow, the Court grants the motion to remand and denies as
moot the motion to dismiss.
Whitehead is a nurse who had worked for Corizon Health in the
City of Philadelphia Correctional facilities. (Compl. ¶
5.) Whitehead worked for Corizon from August 1, 2013 through
June 1, 2015. (Id. ¶ 11.) According to Corizon,
“[d]uring that timeframe, Corizon Health mistakenly
paid [Whitehead] time and one-half (1½) his regular
hourly rate of pay, including shift differentials, for hours
that the terms and conditions of employment provided were
straight time hours.” (Id. ¶ 12.)
worked a modified weekend schedule of two sixteen hour shifts
on Saturday and Sunday and was paid for thirty-six hours at a
straight time rate, including differentials. (Id.
¶ 13.) Corizon also claims that it mistakenly paid
Whitehead time and one-half his regular rate of pay for hours
worked that did not require payment of the increased rate.
(Id. ¶ 14.) The Complaint then details the
specific overpayments made during the course of
Whitehead's employment. (Id. ¶¶
15-97.) The overpayments totaled $28, 710.62. (Id.
¶ 98.) When confronted with the overpayments, Whitehead
denied any knowledge. (Id. ¶¶ 99-101.)
Corizon disputes Whitehead's ignorance. (Id.
¶¶ 105-13.) Although the terms and conditions of
Whitehead's employment required that he inform Corizon of
any overpayments, he failed to do so. (Id.
¶¶ 114-15.) Whitehead refuses to return the
overpayments. (Id. ¶ 117.)
sued Whitehead for breach of contract and unjust enrichment,
alleging that the terms and conditions of Whitehead's
employment only allowed him overtime pay for hours worked in
excess of forty per week. (Id. ¶¶
April 20, 2017, Whitehead removed this litigation from the
Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. In the notice of removal,
Whitehead claims that prior to reaching an agreement about
the overpayments, Corizon fired Whitehead, “in
violation of the National Labor Relations Act.”
Whitehead then grieved the firing as lacking just cause under
the collective bargaining agreement. Whitehead argues that
Corizon's claim for overpayment arises under the National
Labor Relations Act, 29 U.S.C. § 185, which allows for
violations of a collective bargaining agreement to be brought
“in any district court of the United States having
jurisdiction of the parties, without respect to the amount in
controversy or without regard to the citizenship of the
parties.” On April 27, 2017, Whitehead filed a motion
to dismiss for failure to state a claim.
claims that Corizon's breach of contract and unjust
enrichment claims are preempted by federal law. (Mem. of Law
in Supp. of Def. John Whitehead's Mot. to Dismiss
[Whitehead Mem.] at 5-9.) Specifically, Whitehead asserts
that Corizon's claim cannot be adjudicated without
interpretation of the collective bargaining agreement, and
therefore the claim is one arising under the Labor Management
Relations Act, which thus preempts Corizon's state law
19, 2017, Corizon filed a motion to remand. Corizon contends
that this Court must remand because it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. According to Corizon, its state law claims are
not preempted because the resolution of its claim does not
require interpretation of the collective bargaining
brought state law claims against Whitehead. Whitehead
contends, however, that federal question jurisdiction exists
because Corizon's state law claims are preempted by the
Labor Management Relations Act (“LMRA”). The
Court disagrees that the particular claims raised by Corizon
are preempted by federal law.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
In order to hear a case, the court must have both personal
jurisdiction over all parties and subject matter jurisdiction
over the litigation. Parties may neither waive subject matter
jurisdiction nor may they confer it upon the court by
consent. United Indus. Workers v. Gov't of V.I.,
987 F.2d 162, 168 (3d Cir. 1993).
grants subject matter jurisdiction to the federal district
courts over “all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. Moreover, a defendant may remove a
civil action that could have originally been brought by the
plaintiff in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a) (“[A]ny civil action brought in a State court
of which the district courts of the United States have
original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the
defendants . . . .”). Here, this Court has subject
matter jurisdiction-and therefore Defendant can remove-only
if Plaintiff's complaint presents a federal question.
See Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
the defendant's burden to show the existence of federal
jurisdiction. See Pullman Co. v. Jenkins, 305 U.S.
534, 540 (1939); Boyer v. Snap-On Tools Corp., 913
F.2d 108, 111 (3d Cir. 1990). In considering whether to
remand, “[b]ecause lack of jurisdiction would make any
decree in the case void and the continuation of the
litigation in federal court futile, the removal statute
should be strictly construed and all doubts should be
resolved in favor of remand.” Abels v. State Farm
Fire & Cas. Co., 770 F.2d 26, 29 (3d Cir. 1995). If
there is any doubt as to the propriety of removal, that ...