Civil No. EP-03-CA-286(KC).
December 12, 2003
Pending before this Court are the following motions: plaintiffs' motion to remand or alternatively to stay proceedings on federal claims (Doc. No. 3), plaintiffs' motion for class certification (Doc. No. 5), defendants' motion to extend time to reply to plaintiffs' motion for class certification (Doc. No. 10), plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a corrected pleading (Doc. No. 11) and plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended pleading (Doc. No. 16).
I. MOTION TO REMAND OR TO STAY
Plaintiff argues that the present action should be remanded to state court because the claims involved herein are based solely on the Texas Code of Criminal Procedure and El Paso City Ordinances.
Defendant bears the burden of showing that removal was proper and that this Court has jurisdiction over the state court suit. Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sch. Dist., 44 F.3d 362, 365 (5th Cir. 1995). Federal question jurisdiction is determined from the allegations manifest in plaintiffs' well-pleaded complaint. Id. at 366. Doubts as to the existence of federal jurisdiction are to be resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction. Acuna v. Brown Root Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000).
In the present case, plaintiffs' allegations belie their argument that there is no federal question. On page 3 of the complaint, plaintiffs allege that "this civil action is pursuant to . . . the right to counsel, due process, and equal protection guaranteed by the 5th, 6th, and 14th [A]mendments to the United States Constitution via 42 U.S.C. [§§] 1983 and 1988." On page 12 of the complaint, plaintiffs allege that "[c]ase law prohibiting the incarceration of the poor because of inability to pay fines is well established. Tate v. Short, 401 U.S. 395 [(1971);] Argersinger v. Hamlin, 407 U.S. 25." A similar allegation and recitation of federal case law and federal constitutional rights is made on page 16, 17, 18, 20 and 21. Plaintiffs' first and only cause of action alleges a "[v]iolation of the due process of the constitution, 5th [A]mendment, 6th [A]mendment, and [E]qual [P]rotection [C]lause of 14th [A]mendment." Given the foregoing, there is little doubt that plaintiffs' well-pleaded complaint raises a federal question and is therefore properly before this Court. Plaintiffs' motion to remand is accordingly denied.
In the alternative, plaintiffs ask that this Court stay proceedings on federal claims and remand state claims as an efficient means of resolving claims in state court. At present, it is not apparent that a partial remand would constitute an efficient means of resolving state law claims. Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 356 (1988) (discussing possibility of remand of pendant state court claims while retaining jurisdiction over federal claims); Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936) (discussing inherent authority of federal courts to stay cases before them). It is further noted that the state law violations alleged appear inextricably linked to the federal claims. Accordingly, the motion to stay is denied.
II. MOTION FOR CLASS CERTIFICATION
Plaintiff moves for certification of a class of unknown, similarly situated individuals. At present, absent any evidence of the characteristics of proposed class members, this Court cannot ascertain whether the members satisfy the requirements of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23(a) (providing requirements of numerosity, commonality, and typicality as well as requirement that representative is an adequate representative of the class). Plaintiffs' motion for certification is therefore denied with leave to renew at the close of discovery should plaintiffs' efforts disclose class members.
III. DEFENDANTS' MOTION FOR EXTENSION OF TIME
In light of the above denial of plaintiffs' motion for class certification, defendants' motion to extend time to reply to plaintiffs' motion for class certification is denied as moot.
IV. PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE CORRECTED PLEADING
Plaintiffs' move for leave to file a corrected version of their motion for class certification. As the original motion is amended only as to the caption, and this Court has already considered the merits of the original motion, the motion is denied as moot.
V. MOTION FOR LEAVE TO FILE AMENDED PLEADINGS
Plaintiffs' move for leave to file an amended motion to remand Leave is granted. The Clerk shall docket the amended motion to remand The amended motion to remand is denied for the same reasons set forth in the above ruling on the original motion to remand
Plaintiffs' motion to remand (Doc. No. 3-1) is denied, plaintiffs' alternative motion to stay proceedings on federal claims (Doc. No. 3-2) is denied, plaintiffs' motion for class certification (Doc. No. 5) is denied and defendants' motion to extend time to reply to plaintiffs' motion for class certification (Doc. No. 10) is denied as moot. Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file a corrected pleading (Doc. No. 11) and Plaintiffs' motion for leave to file an amended pleading (Doc. No. 16) are granted. The Clerk shall docket the amended motion to remand and amended motion for class certification for record purposes. The amended motions, consistent with the foregoing, are denied.