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S.D.Fla.: FLSA Defendant’s Counterclaims Based On Prior General Release Dismissed Because They Would Substantially Predominate Over FLSA Claims

Dawson v. Office Depot, Inc.

This matter came before the Court sua sponte, after its review of the pleadings. Plaintiffs filed a Complaint which alleged a violation of the FLSA. Defendants filed a Counterclaim, which alleged two state law claims: 1) Rescission of General Release Agreement and 2) Breach of General Release Agreement, presumably both arising out of the fact that Plaintiff had previously signed a general release and then sought damages in the instant case under the FLSA nonetheless.

After reviewing Defendants’ Counterclaim, the Court found that the state law claims asserted in Counts I & II are so related to the federal claim in the instant action that they form part of the same case or controversy. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (2006). Therefore, the Court recognized its authority to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over Defendants’ Counterclaim.

Nevertheless, the Court recognized its supplemental jurisdiction inquiry did not end there.

“In 1990, Congress codified the formerly well-entrenched jurisdictional doctrine denominated as pendent and ancillary jurisdiction set forth in United Mine Workers of Am. v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715 (1966). 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c) provides in pertinent part:

The district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over a claim under subsection (a) if-

(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law, [or]

(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction ….”

Applying 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(2) to the facts before it, the Court found that supplemental jurisdiction should not be exercised over the state law claims asserted in Defendants’ Counterclaim because those claims present questions of state law which would otherwise predominate over the federal claims present here and obscure their significance. See Winn v. North Am. Philips Corp., 826 F.Supp. 1424, 1426 (S.D.Fla.1993). Therefore, the Court, pursuant to § 1367(c)(2), exercised its discretion and dismissed the state law claims set forth in Counts I & II of Defendants’ Counterclaim.