United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar, Chief Judge.
March 27, 2017, Plaintiff brought this action against the
Maryland Mass. Transit Administration (“MMTA”),
the State of Maryland (“the State”), Elmer
Coppage,  Roland Carroll, and Lattice Lee in the
Circuit Court for Baltimore City. (Notice of Removal p. 2
¶ 1, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff filed a second amended
complaint on February 2, 2018. (Second Am. Compl., ECF No.
22.) All Defendants removed by consent on February 6, 2018.
At the time the case was removed, several motions were ripe
and pending before the Circuit Court. Defendant Lee had moved
to dismiss Plaintiff's original complaint on September
15, 2017 (ECF No. 6) and to dismiss Plaintiff's first
amended complaint on November 30, 2017 (ECF No. 16),
Plaintiff had moved to stay proceedings on December 29, 2017
(ECF No. 19) and again on February 2, 2018 (ECF No. 23).
removal to this Court, the State, MMTA, Mr. Coppage and Mr.
Carroll (“the Defendants”) filed a motion to
dismiss Plaintiff's second amended complaint. (Mot.
Dismiss, ECF No. 30.) Plaintiff responded in opposition to
the Defendants' motion to dismiss on March 23, 2018 (ECF
No. 38), and the Defendants responded in opposition to
Plaintiff's second motion to stay on the same day (ECF
No. 37). The Defendants replied in support of their motion to
dismiss on April 6 (ECF No. 39) and Plaintiff replied in
support of her second motion to stay on the same day (ECF No.
40). Therefore, the Defendants' motion to dismiss and
Plaintiff's motions to stay are ripe. The Court will deny
as moot Plaintiff's first motion to stay because it
requests the same relief as Plaintiff's second motion to
stay. The Court will dismiss Plaintiff's Title VII claim
for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction, and dismiss her
other federal cause of action because she fails to state a
claim upon which relief can be granted. As Plaintiff's
other claims are state law claims and the parties are not
diverse, the Court will decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over those claims, will remand the case to the
Circuit Court, and will decline to rule on Defendant
Lee's pending motions to dismiss.
worked for the MMTA originally as a bus driver and then as an
instructor. (Second Am. Compl. ¶ 7-8.) She started
experiencing hostility at work in 2015, after she became
certified as a union instructor. (Id. ¶ 10.)
She experienced sexually charged and unwelcome behavior from
several of her colleagues and supervisors, including Mr.
Carroll, who she worked with as an instructor, Mr. Coppage,
who was Mr. Carroll's supervisor, and Ms. Lee, who was
Mr. Coppage's secretary. (See Id. ¶¶
10, 12-13, 21, 23, 27.) Plaintiff complained of this behavior
to Mr. Coppage, but the email that she sent was
“mysteriously deleted” from her account.
(Id. ¶ 17.) Mr. Coppage then stopped assigning
candidates for Plaintiff to train, and he never
satisfactorily dealt with Plaintiff's complaints.
(Id. ¶¶ 26, 29.) He “falsely wr[ote]
[Plaintiff] up for ‘reluctance to
facilitate'” for demonstrating “favoritism
among candidates, and [for] other patently bogus claims and
charges.” (Id. ¶ 32.) In March of 2016,
Ms. Lee “falsely accused [Plaintiff] of making advances
towards her husband, who had been a trainee, ” and Ms.
Lee spread these “unfounded rumors about
Plaintiff.” (Id. ¶¶ 29-30.)
Ultimately, Plaintiff was demoted and sent back to being a
bus operator (a position with lower pay) on March 27, 2016.
(Id. ¶ 33.)
filed a charge of discrimination with the Equal Employment
Opportunity Commission (“EEOC”) on January 20,
2017, alleging retaliation. (Charge of Discrimination, Second
Am. Compl. Ex. 1, ECF No. 22-1.) Two months later, Plaintiff
filed a lawsuit against the MMTA, the State, Mr. Coppage, Mr.
Carroll, and Ms. Lee in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City.
(Compl., ECF No. 2; see Notice of Removal p. 2
¶ 1 (stating that the lawsuit was first filed on March
27, 2017).) Plaintiff brought four state law causes of action
in her original complaint.
was fairly significant activity in the state court prior to
removal. (See Notice of Removal ¶ 2 (detailing
what the State, the MMTA, Coppage, and Carroll have been
served with in state court).) In fact, almost a year of state
court litigation passed before the case was removed to this
Court. Several motions were filed, including two motions to
dismiss by Defendant Lee and two motions to stay brought by
Plaintiff. Plaintiff amended her complaint (for a second
time) on February 2, 2018, and added two state law causes of
action as well as two federal law causes of action. Even
though she had not received a notice of right to sue (a
“right-to-sue letter”) from the EEOC, she
asserted a claim under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of
1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e-3. Plaintiff alleged that at the
time she filed her second amended complaint, at least 180
days had passed since she filed her charge of discrimination.
(Second Am. Compl. ¶ 38.) She does not allege that she
ever requested a right-to-sue letter. She asserts in her
opposition to the Defendants' motion to dismiss, and in
her motions to stay, that the EEOC is still processing her
complaint. Her second amended complaint also included a
second federal claim, for retaliation in violation of 42
U.S.C. § 1981.
Defendants, with the consent of Ms. Lee, removed the case to
this Court after Plaintiff added these two federal claims,
asserting federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331, and supplemental jurisdiction over the remaining
state law claims under 28 U.S.C. § 1367. None of the
parties in this action are diverse: they are all citizens of
Maryland. Having set forth the factual and procedural history
of this case, the Court will now turn to the disposition of
the Defendants' motion to dismiss and Plaintiff's
second motion to stay.
burden of proving subject-matter jurisdiction is on the
plaintiff. Adams v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th
Cir. 1982). Where, as here, the Defendants have raised a
factual challenge, it is permissible for a district court to
“consider evidence outside the pleadings without
converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment.”
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R. Co. v.
U.S., 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991) (citing
Adams, 697 F.2d at 1219); see Adams, 697
F.2d at 1219 (explaining difference between facial and
factual challenges to subject-matter jurisdiction).
purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is to test the sufficiency of a
complaint.” Brown v. Rapid Response Delivery,
Inc., 226 F.Supp.3d 507, 510 (D. Md. 2016) (internal
quotation marks omitted). The Court will accept all plausible
factual allegations by the Plaintiff as true. E.I.
du Pont de Nemours & Co. v. Kolon Indus.,
Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011). But, that
“tenet . . . is inapplicable to legal
conclusions.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662,
678 (2009). Furthermore, “[t]hreadbare recitals of the
elements of a cause of action . . . do not suffice.”
Court has discretion whether to grant a motion to stay.
“[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the
power inherent in every court to control the disposition of
the causes [sic] on its docket with economy of time and
effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants. How this
can best be done calls for the exercise of judgment, which
must weigh competing interests and maintain an even
balance.” Landis v. North Am. Co., 299 U.S.
248, 254-55 (1936).
Court will first explain why Plaintiff's federal law
claims will be dismissed and why it will not stay the case,
and then turn to why it will decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims, and
therefore why the Court will remand the case to state court.
Plaintiff has brought two federal claims in her second
amended complaint. The first is a Title VII claim, but the
Court will dismiss that claim for ...