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U.S. Supreme Court

Carneigie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343 (1988)

Carneigie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill

No. 86-1021

Argued November 10, 1987

Decided January 20, 1988

484 U.S. 343


A husband and wife (hereinafter respondents) filed a complaint in a Pennsylvania state court against petitioners, the husband's former employer and his former supervisor, alleging a single federal law age discrimination claim and a number of state law claims, all arising from the husband's discharge by petitioners. After petitioners removed the case to Federal District Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), the court granted respondents' motion to amend their complaint to delete the age discrimination allegations and their motion to remand the suit to state court on the ground that such amendment eliminated their sole federal law claim, which had provided the basis for removal in the first place. The Court of Appeals denied petitioners' application for a writ of mandamus.

Held: A federal district court has discretion under the doctrine of pendent jurisdiction to remand to state court a removed case upon a proper determination that retaining jurisdiction over the case would be inappropriate. Where, as here, all federal law claims in the action have been eliminated and only pendent state law claims remain, the district court has a powerful reason to choose not to continue to exercise jurisdiction. A wide discretion to remand rather than to dismiss will enable district courts to deal with appropriate cases involving pendent claims in the manner that best serves the principles of judicial economy, procedural convenience, fairness to litigants, and comity to the States which underlie the pendent jurisdiction doctrine. For example, a remand generally will be preferable to dismissal when the statute of limitations on the plaintiff's state law claims has expired before the federal court has determined that it should relinquish jurisdiction. Even when the applicable statute of limitations has not expired, a remand may best promote the aforesaid principles, in light of the increased expense and time involved in enforcing state law that dismissal would entail. The fact that the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441-1451, explicitly authorizes remand in only two situations inapplicable to this case does not mean that Congress intended to preclude remands of removed cases involving pendent claims. Given that the statute's silence does not negate the courts' undoubted power to dismiss such cases, that silence cannot be chanrobles.com-red

Page 484 U. S. 344

read to negate the power to remand them. Indeed, § 1441(c), which gives district courts discretionary power either to adjudicate or to remand otherwise nonremovable "separate and independent" claims that have been joined with a removable claim, strongly suggests that, had Congress decided to address the proper disposition of removed cases involving pendent claims, it would have authorized their remand. The statement in Thermtron Products, Inc. v. Hermansdorfer, 423 U. S. 336, that a case may not be remanded on a ground not specified in the removal statute applies only to situations in which the district court has no authority to decline to hear the removed case, and not to cases like the present, in which the district court has undoubted discretion to decline to exercise jurisdiction. The fact that, under the rule announced in this case, a plaintiff might attempt to manipulate the forum by deleting federal law claims and requesting remand is a concern which should be considered by the district court in deciding whether to remand, but hardly justifies a categorical prohibition on the remand of all cases involving pendent state law claims. Pp. 484 U. S. 348-357.


MARSHALL, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BRENNAN, BLACKMUN, STEVENS, and O'CONNOR, JJ., joined. WHITE, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which REHNQUIST, C.J.,and SCALIA, J., joined, post p. 484 U. S. 358. chanrobles.com-red

Page 484 U. S. 345


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