United States District Court, D. Vermont
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
William K. Sessions III U.S. District Court Judge.
Eric Edson moves for remand to state court of all of his
claims, or, alternatively, his state claims. The Court held a
hearing on the Motion to Remand on January 8, 2018. The Court
requested that the parties attempt to reach an agreement to
allow Plaintiff to properly exhaust his administrative
remedies within the Vermont Department of Corrections
(“Vermont DOC”). The parties were not able to
reach such an agreement. Therefore, the Court remands
Plaintiff's state law claims to the state court. The
Court retains jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal
claims, but those claims are stayed pending resolution of
Plaintiff's state law claims.
Complaint alleges that Plaintiff's state and federal
constitutional rights were violated as a result of
Defendant's actions or inactions. ECF 8. The Complaint
seeks injunctive relief for violations of Plaintiff's due
process and equal protection rights-under both the Vermont
Constitution and the United States Constitution-arising out
of his furlough violation and incarceration. See ECF
8, Grounds for Relief ¶¶ 1-3.
Arguments on the Motion to Remand
alleges that the Vermont DOC illegally revoked sentence
credit it had previously granted and that his furlough was
illegally revoked. He is seeking a shorter sentence and an
immediate return to furlough. Plaintiff contends that these
are effectively habeas corpus claims, Preiser v.
Rodriguez, 411 U.S. 475, 487-88 (1973), and therefore,
Plaintiff must exhaust his state-court remedies before filing
in federal court. 42 U.S.C. § 2254(b)(a). Plaintiff
explains that this is what he was trying to do when Defendant
removed to federal court. Plaintiff submits that because this
case could not have been filed originally in federal court,
it must be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
contends that Plaintiff's claims regarding his furlough
status do not implicate the fact or duration of imprisonment
and therefore are not habeas corpus claims. Defendant argues
that Plaintiff's claim regarding furlough revocation and
later denial based on violation of federal constitutional
rights could have been originally filed in federal court, and
therefore the Motion to Remand should be denied. Defendant
explains that Plaintiff's state constitutional claim is
based on an alleged violation of the Common Benefits Clause.
Vt. Const. Ch. 1, Art. 7. Defendant argues that even though
this Clause has not been applied to a prisoner, the Vermont
Supreme Court has reviewed claims based on the Clause and has
provided a clear roadmap for the analysis of such claims.
See Baker v. State, 170 Vt. 194. 194, 197, 744 A.2d
864, 867 (1999).
Court has original federal question jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's federal claims in this action pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1331 because Plaintiff asserted federal
constitutional claims against the Defendant. The state court
action was thus removable to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a) because original federal question jurisdiction
exists. This Court may exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over Plaintiff's remaining Vermont law claims because
“they form part of the same case or controversy under
Article III of the United States Constitution” as
Plaintiff's federal law claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a).
Court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
Plaintiff's state law claims and remands them to the
state court. This case, while couched in terms of both state
and federal constitutional violations, really revolves around
Vermont law and Vermont DOC policies-notably, exhaustion of
Vermont DOC administrative remedies, Vermont prison sentence
calculations, and the Vermont furlough system. This Court may
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state
claims which substantially predominate over related federal
claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(2). Remand of
Plaintiff's state law claims under § 1367(c)(2) is
both permissible and appropriate. See Nelson v. City of
Rochester, NY, 492 F.Supp.2d 282, 288 (W.D.N.Y. 2007).
Court retains jurisdiction over Plaintiff's federal
claims, as the Court does not have discretion to remand a
federal claim that is properly before it. See Baker v.
Kingsley, 387 F.3d 649, 656-57 (7th Cir. 2004)
(“It is an abuse of discretion for a district court to
remand a federal claim that is properly before it.”);
Green v. Ameritrade, Inc., 279 F.3d 590, 596 (8th
Cir. 2002) (“[A] district court has no discretion to
remand a claim that states a federal question.”);
Borough of West Mifflin v. Lancaster, 45 F.3d 780,
787 (3rd Cir. 1995) (“[N]othing in § 1367(c)
authorizes a district court to decline to entertain a claim
over which it has original jurisdiction and, accordingly,
that section clearly does not sanction the district
court's remand of this entire case, including the federal
 claims, to the state court”); see also Marcus v.
AT&T Corp., 138 F.3d 46, 52 (2d Cir. 1998)
(“Under the well-pleaded complaint rule, the plaintiff
is the master of the complaint, free to avoid federal
jurisdiction by pleading only state claims even where a
federal claim is also available”). Thus, § 1367(c)
does not permit remand of federal claims, regardless of
whether state law claims “predominate” in the
action. However, these federal claims will be stayed pending
resolution of Plaintiff's state law claims in state
court, in the interests of comity, judicial economy, and to
avoid the risk of inconsistent adjudications. See
Nelson, 492 F.Supp.2d at 288.
Plaintiff has asserted federal constitutional claims in
conjunction with his state constitutional claims, this case
is really about state processes and sentence calculations.
Disputes over Vermont DOC's furlough revocation policies,
Vermont DOC's minimum sentence requirements, and credit
for pretrial time served under Vermont law should be resolved
by the Vermont courts. Thus, the Court remands
Plaintiff's state law claims to the state court, retains