The opinion of the court was delivered by: DANA SABRAW, District Judge
ORDER DISMISSING STATE LAW CLAIM AGAINST SCRIPPS MERCY HOSPITAL
Plaintiff Francisco Lua filed this medical malpractice claim
against the Defendants United States and Scripps Mercy Hospital.
Lua asserted federal question jurisdiction based upon his claim
against the United States of America, pursuant to the Federal
Tort Claims Act (FTCA). 28 U.S.C. § 1346(b) (federal courts have
exclusive jurisdiction over tort claims against government
employees); 42 U.S.C. § 233(a) (FTCA is exclusive remedy for
malpractice claims against a federally supported health center).
Lua's claim against Scripps was included based upon supplemental
jurisdiction. Complaint ¶ 23. The Court recently dismissed the
United States from the action on the ground that Lua did not
comply with the administrative claims process and filed his
lawsuit more than two years after the alleged injuries accrued.
The dismissal was based upon the government's motion to dismiss
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fed.R.Civ.P.
The Court then requested briefing concerning jurisdiction over
the state law claim against Scripps. Lua requests the Court
dismiss the remaining defendant without prejudice, so that he may re-file the claim in state court. Scripps asks the Court to
retain supplemental jurisdiction so that it can file a summary
judgment motion. In the alternative, Scripps seeks a dismissal
conditioned upon repayment of litigation costs. Scripps notes
that Lua could have named Scripps in the action filed in state
court against the physician.
A federal court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
state law claims that are related to the federal claim.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(a). If a district court dismisses the federal claim that
gave rise to federal court jurisdiction, the court has discretion
whether to retain the state law claims. § 1367(c); Acri v.
Varian Assoc., Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1000 (9th Cir. 1997) (en
banc). The court may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the state law claim if the court has "dismissed
all claims over which it has original jurisdiction." §
1367(c)(3). "Certainly, if the federal claims are dismissed
before trial, . . . the state claims should be dismissed as
well." United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 838 U.S. 715, 726
(emphasis added). While Gibbs does not state a per se rule in
most cases, Acri, 114 F.3d at 1000, there is an exception
because "supplemental jurisdiction cannot exist without original
jurisdiction." Herman Family Revocable Trust v. Teddy Bear,
254 F.3d 802, 805 (9th Cir. 2001). "The statute's plain language
makes clear that supplemental jurisdiction may only be invoked
when the district court has the hook of original jurisdiction on
which to hang it." Id. When a district court has dismissed the
federal claim for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the
district court has "no power under either § 1367 or Article III
of the Constitution to adjudicate any claims in the lawsuit."
Scripps argues that although the government captioned its
motion to dismiss and the Court based its Order on Rule 12(b)(1),
that the true nature of the motion was not jurisdictional, but
instead is more properly treated as a failure to state a claim
for relief. The Court need not resolve this issue; however,
because even if dismissal of the state law claim is not required,
Herman Family, 254 F.3d at 805-07, the Court declines to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction over it. This case involves
medical malpractice claims governed solely by state law; is in
the early stages of pretrial proceedings; the discovery produced
to date can be used in the state proceedings if Lua re-files in
that forum; and the state court is equally convenient to these
parties. "[I]n the usual case in which all federal-law claims are
eliminated before trial, the balance of factors to be considered
under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine judicial economy,
convenience, fairness, and comity will point toward declining
to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims."
Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n. 7 (1988).
At this juncture, the Court discerns no basis for shifting the
litigation costs to Lua.
Based upon due consideration of the briefs and the record
before the Court, and for the reasons stated above, the Court
DISMISSES WITHOUT PREJUDICE the state law claim against Defendant
Scripps Mercy Hospital. Each party shall bear their own costs. As
the other defendant has previously been dismissed, the Clerk may
now terminate this civil action.
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