Borough of West Mifflin v. Lancaster – Case Brief
Borough of West Mifflin v. Lancaster, 45 F.3d 780 (3d Cir. 1995).
Note: This appeal arises from a petition for a writ of mandamus filed by the city of Lancaster and Officer Evan, the defendants in the underlying civil suit. The plaintiffs in that suit were Alan Lindsay and Randall Coughanour. Gary Lancaster was the judge of the district court in which the underlying civil suit was heard.
Facts: Alan Lindsey (P) and Randall Coughanour (P) were arrested for disorderly conduct at a mall. Their pictures and names were posted in the mall and they were warned not to return. They were found guilty of defiant trespass but their conviction was overturned by a three judge panel.
Ps sued for malicious prosecution under 42 USC § 1983 against arresting officer Evans (D) and the borough of West Mifflin (D). Ds removed to federal court and Lancaster, the federal district court judge, granted P’s motion to remand the case back to state court, stating that state law predominated due to several other state law claims in the complaint. Ds filed a petition for a writ of mandamus to compel the district court to accept jurisdiction.
Issue: What is required under 42 USC § 1441(c) for removal or remand of a case in which there are both federal question claims and claims arising under state law?
Holding and Rule: 42 USC § 1441(c) provides for removal or remand only where the federal question claims are “separate and independent” from the state law claims with which they are joined in the complaint. However, where there is a single injury to plaintiff for which relief is sought, arising from an interrelated series of events or transactions, there is no separate or independent claim or cause of action under § 1441(c).
The court held that pendent state claims that derive from a common nucleus of operative fact as the federal claims are not “separate and independent” and therefore do not fall within the scope of 42 USC §1441(c). The court held that P relied upon the same series of events for all counts of their complaint, and therefore the district court had subject matter jurisdiction over the 42 USC § 1983 claim and supplemental jurisdiction over the other claims. The federal and state claims were not “separate and independent” and the district court had no authority under 42 USC § 1441(c) to remand either part or all of the case. The court also held that its ruling did not preclude analysis under §1367(c)(2) if the state claim constituted the real body of the case and the federal claim was merely an appendage.
Disposition: Motion for writ of mandamus granted; judgment for D.