United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division
LARS ST. JOHN, Plaintiff,
AU BON PAIN, et al., Defendants.
C. NUGENT JUDGE
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
A. Ruiz United States Magistrate Judge
this matter was remanded from the Sixth Circuit Court of
Appeals, this matter was referred to the undersigned
Magistrate Judge for general pretrial supervision, to rule
upon all non-dispositive motions, and to issue a
“report containing proposed findings and recommendation
for disposition of case-dispositive motions.” (R. 10).
On September 23, 2019, pro se Plaintiff Lars St.
John filed a “Motion of Order to Produce Document and
Reasons for Termination of Two Defendants and
Reinstatement.” (R. 27). Specifically, Defendants Luke
Maldonado and Thomas Dolan appear to have been terminated as
parties to this action. Id. Plaintiff's motion
is denied as moot because it is recommended that all
individually named defendants be dismissed as parties
consistent with the Court's previous ruling.
November 22, 2017, Plaintiff, pro se, filed a
complaint suing his former employer Au Bon Pain and seventeen
Au Bon Pain employees. (R. 1). The complaint alleges six
causes of action: (1) harassment in violation of Ohio Revised
Code (“O.R.C.”) § 2917.11(A); (2) sexual
harassment in violation of O.R.C. § 4112.02; (3) race
and gender discrimination in violation of Title VII of the
Civil Rights Act and 42 U.S.C. § 1981; (4) libel/slander
in violation of O.R.C. § § 2739.01 and the
Fourteenth Amendment; (5) wrongful termination/retaliation in
violation of O.R.C. § 4113.52; and (6) violation of his
First Amendment rights. (R. 1).
11, 2018, the District Court found that Plaintiff's Title
VII and § 1981 claims in Count Three were insufficient,
and that Plaintiff's First and Fourteenth Amendment
claims contained in Counts Four and Six “simply do not
apply to the acts of private persons or entities.” (R.
5). Therefore, the District Court dismissed those claims.
Id. In addition, the District Court considered
whether it should exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
remaining state law claims (Counts I, II, IV and V) pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), but declined to do so given the
dismissal of Plaintiff's federal claims. Id.
appealed the District Court's decision, and on May 22,
2019, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed in part and
vacated in part. (R. 8). Specifically, the Sixth Circuit
stated that “we VACATE the district court's
judgment with respect to St. John's Title VII, §
1981, and supplemental state-law claims against Au Bon
Pain.” Id., PageID# 69. It is critical to note
that while the Sixth Circuit vacated the dismissal of the
Title VII claim with respect to Au Bon Pain, it
unambiguously found that “to the extent that St. John
sought to sue his coworkers and supervisors, those claims
were properly subject to dismissal because coworkers and
supervisors are not ‘employers' and are thus not
subject to suit under Title VII.” See Wathen v.
Gen. Elec. Co., 115 F.3d 400, 405 (6th Cir.
1997).” (R. 8, PageID# 68). In addition, the Sixth
Circuit also concluded that the District Court properly
dismissed the First and Fourteenth Amendment claims because
all of the defendants were private and not state actors.
Id. Therefore, upon remand from the Sixth Circuit,
no federal claims remain against the individually
named Defendants, and the only remaining federal
claim against Au Bon Pain is the Title VII claim.
Sixth Circuit's remand, as stated above, vacated the
District Court's judgment with respect to the Title VII,
§ 1981, and supplemental state-law claims
against Au Bon Pain, but “AFFIRM[ED] the
district court's judgment in all other
respects.” (R. 8) (emphasis added). Therefore, the
dismissal of all federal claims against all seventeen
individually named Defendants was affirmed. The Sixth
Circuit's decision recognizes that the District Court has
discretion to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state
law claims. (R. 8, citing Carlsbad Tech., Inc. v. HIF
Bio, Inc., 556 U.S. 635, 639-40 (2009)). There are
exceptional circumstances, in this case, that demonstrate
compelling reasons for the District Court's decision not
to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the state law
claims involving seventeen individual defendants; and,
therefore, the undersigned finds no reason to diverge from
the District Court's earlier decision declining to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(4), a district court “may
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim
… if in exceptional circumstances there are other
compelling reasons for declining jurisdiction.”
Plaintiff's remaining federal claims are against the
corporate defendant. But this is not a case in which an
additional minor state law claim has been brought, nor is it
a case in which the elements and required proof for the
federal and state causes of action are parallel and would
lead to litigation efficiencies. See, e.g., Rost
v. Heaney, No. 18-12351, 2018 WL 3753839, at *3 (E.D.
Mich. Aug. 8, 2018). Rather, Plaintiff's complaint
asserts multiple disparate state law claims against seventeen
individual defendants and the corporate defendant. When
determining whether there are compelling reasons for not
exercising supplemental jurisdiction, courts should conclude
“that declining jurisdiction best accommodates the
values of economy, convenience, fairness, and comity.”
Id. It is clear that the state law claims
substantially expand the scope and burden of this litigation.
Plaintiff's federal race and gender discrimination claim
against Defendant Au Bon Pain is not contingent on Plaintiff
proving his state law allegations against the individually
named Defendants. Although the alleged federal and state
claims may arise from the same factual background, “the
simultaneous litigation of such claims may prolong pre-trial
practice, complicate the trial, lengthen and make more
complex the jury instructions, potentially confuse the jury,
result in inconsistent verdicts, and cause post-trial
problems….” Id. That is clearly the
case here. The undersigned expresses no view on the merits or
viability of any of Plaintiff's state law claims.
Although the parties may duplicate some effort if Plaintiff
decides to pursue claims in state court, in an exceptional
situation, “[a]ny theoretical judicial economy and
convenience to the parties…may be outweighed by the
problems created in exercising supplemental jurisdiction over
state law claims.” Id.
it is recommended that Plaintiff's state law claims be
DISMISSED without prejudice. Because the Sixth Circuit
affirmed dismissal of the federal claims against the
seventeen individual Defendants, all individual Defendants
should be terminated from this action, leaving only the
corporate defendant, Au Bon Pain.
this recommendation, Plaintiff's “Motion of Order
to Produce Document and Reasons for Termination of Two
Defendants and ...