The opinion of the court was delivered by: Judge Marbley
This employment discrimination case is before the Court on a motion to remand filed by plaintiff, Charles Nguyen. On August 12, 2005, Mr. Nguyen filed a complaint in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas alleging, inter alia, that his employment with defendant, Ashland Oil, was terminated because of Mr. Nguyen's race, national origin and association with other employees that brought suit against Ashland. Both Ashland and one of Mr. Nguyen's former supervisors, Warren Robbins, were named as defendants.
On April 13, 2006, the defendants removed the case to this Court alleging that Mr. Nguyen's state law claims "depend on federal law, specifically, the ERISA provisions codified at 29 U.S.C. § 1132 and 29 U.S.C. § 1140, and that removal was proper under Section 1441(a) of Title 28 of the United States Code." (Defendants' Memo. in Opp. to Plaintiff's Mot. for Remand at p. 2). They assert that the removability of the state court action first became apparent to them on March 15, 2006, the day Mr. Nguyen filed a complaint in this Court in Case No. 2:06-cv-193. That complaint alleges multiple counts of employment discrimination under Title VII, but also pleads one count of benefit-related termination of employment, which is actionable under 29 U.S.C. § 1140. Mr. Nguyen has now asked the Court to remand the case to the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas. The motion is fully briefed and ripe for decision. For the following reasons, the motion to remand will be granted.
In his complaint, Mr. Nguyen pleads three separate claims for discrimination based solely upon Ohio Revised Code § 4112.99. Such state law claims, asserted by one Ohio resident against another, are clearly not removable. However, the complaint contains the following prayer for relief:
WHEREFORE, Plaintiff prays, as to Defendants, jointly and severally, as follows:
(a) That this Court award such equitable relief as is proper as compensation for the loss of Plaintiff's opportunity to engage in gainful employment, including relief in the form of front pay;
(b) That this Court award Plaintiff an amount in excess of $25,000 as compensation for his adverse health effects, for the loss of his opportunity to engage in gainful employment, and future earnings and for humiliation, embarrassment, loss of reputation, and loss of self-esteem;
(c) That this Court award Plaintiff all lost wages and benefits;
(d) That this Court award Plaintiff punitive damages;
(e) That this Court award Plaintiff reasonable attorney's fees and the costs of this action; and
(f) That this Court grant Plaintiff such other and further relief as may be just and equitable.
(Compl. at p. 4 (emphasis in original)).
In their notice of removal, the defendants assert that once Mr. Nguyen filed his federal complaint, it became apparent that the demand for recovery of "benefits" in Mr. Nguyen's state court complaint was really a request for an award of benefits granted under ERISA. The defendants, therefore, argue that Mr. Nguyen's state law claims are completely preempted under the ERISA statutory scheme, which grants federal courts exclusive jurisdiction over ERISA claims. See, e.g., Taylor-Sammons v. Bath, 398 F.Supp.2d 868, 873 (S.D. Ohio 2005)("Under [the complete preemption] exception, a complaint may be removed to federal court and will be treated as alleging a federal cause of action for purposes of removal even though the ...