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Tolliver v. Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care

United States District Court, D. Delaware

July 31, 2018

M. DENISE TOLLIVER, Plaintiff,
v.
DELMARVA FOUNDATION FOR MEDICAL CARE, et al., Defendants.

         Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Kent County Case No. K17C-11-010 NEP

          M. Denise Tolliver, Camden, Delaware. Pro Se Plaintiff.

          Joe P. Yeager, McCarter & English, LLP, Wilmington, Delaware. Counsel for Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendants, Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care, Quality Health Strategies, and Terri Daly, filed a notice of removal on December 8, 2017 of Tolliver v. Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care, Delaware Superior Court Case No. K17C-11-010 NEP. (D.I. 1). Plaintiff M. Denise Tolliver appears pro se. On December 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a letter/motion to remand the matter to Superior Court. (D.I. 5) Also pending is Plaintiff's motion to strike. (D.I. 10). The matter has been fully briefed. For the reasons discussed below, the Court will deny Plaintiff's letter/motion to remand and will grant her motion to strike.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff's Complaint contains claims that revolve around her employment with Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care. Plaintiff was hired on October 7, 2013, during year one of a two-year grant with a second-year renewal ending June 30, 2015. (D.I. 1-1at¶2). Funding for the second year was contingent. (Id.) Her employment was terminated on May 12, 2014. (D.I. 1-1 at ¶ 14, 15).

         Count I of the Complaint alleges Delmarva Foundation for Medical Care and Quality Health Strategies breached the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing; Count II is raised against all Defendants and alleges a violation of Title 19, Section 1108(3) of the Delaware Code for failure to provide notice to Plaintiff that she would be deprived of unemployment compensation; Count III of the Complaint is raised against all Defendants and alleges defamation; and Count IV is raised against all Defendants and alleges disability discrimination and retaliation as prohibited by both state and federal employment discrimination law. (D.I. 1-1 at ¶¶ 20-39). The Complaint asserts jurisdiction in the Delaware Courts and refers to an August 14, 2017 EEOC notice of suit rights. (Id. at ¶ 6).

         Plaintiff is a resident of Delaware, and the Complaint provides for service of all Defendants at an address in Easton, Maryland. (D.I. 1-1 at ¶¶ 7-10). The Complaint seeks compensatory and punitive damages and, specifically, $7, 800 for unpaid unemployment and $7, 815 for medical co-pay expense reimbursement. (Id. at ¶ ii).

         LEGAL STANDARD

         The exercise of removal jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441 (a), which states that, in order to remove a civil action from state court to federal court, a district court must have original jurisdiction by the existence of either a federal question or diversity of citizenship. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1441(a). Section 1441(a) and § 1446 both provide that the action may be removed by the defendant to the district court of the United States. The removal statutes are strictly construed, and require remand to State court if any doubt exists over whether removal was proper. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 104 (1941).

         A court will remand a removed case "if at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The party seeking removal bears the burden to establish federal jurisdiction. Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch & Signal Div. Am. Standard, Inc., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987); Zoren v. Genesis Energy, L.P., 195 F.Supp.2d 598, 602 (D. Del. 2002). In determining whether remand based on improper removal is appropriate, the court "must focus on the plaintiff's complaint at the time the petition for removal was filed," and assume all factual allegations therein are true. Steel Valley Auth., 809 F.2d at 1010.

         DISCUSSION

         After the matter was removed to this Court, Plaintiff filed a letter/motion for remand stating that her Complaint is composed of State claims and seeks less than $75, 000. (D.I. 5). In addition, Plaintiff advises that a motion for default judgment is currently pending in State Court. (Id). The motion for default judgment, dated December 9, 2017, seeks compensatory damages in the sum of $44, 815 and punitive damages in an amount deemed appropriate by the court. (Id. at pp.4-7). In their notice of removal, Defendants claim only that the Court has federal ...


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