United States District Court, E.D. Tennessee, Chattanooga
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
CHRISTOPHER H. STEGER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Southern Champion Tray, L.P.'s ("Southern
Champion") Motion for Attorney Fees [Doc. 21], Motion
for Extension of Time [Doc. 26], and Plaintiff April Danielle
Lanham's Motion to Remand [Doc. 19] are pending. The
Court will DENY the Motion for Attorney Fees
[Doc. 21], GRANT the Motion for Extension of
Time [Doc. 26], and GRANT the Motion to
Remand [Doc. 19].
originally filed this employment discrimination action in the
Chancery Court for Hamilton County, Tennessee, against
Defendants SCTray Company, Inc. ("SCTray");
Southern Champion; and Rodney Antonio Dozier
("Dozier"). The original complaint filed in state
court alleged race and disability discrimination under
federal and state law and retaliatory discharge for filing a
worker's compensation claim in violation of Tennessee
law. On August 30, 2018, Defendants removed this case to
federal court. [Doc. 1].
November 6, 2018, Plaintiff voluntarily dismissed defendant
Dozier [Doc. 11]. On January 29, 2019, Plaintiff voluntarily
dismissed defendant SCTray. [Doc. 14]. On April 1, 2019,
Plaintiff filed an unopposed motion to amend her complaint
[Doc. 15] which was granted on April 26, 2019. [Doc. 17]. The
Amended Complaint asserts only one claim, to wit, a
claim against Southern Champion for retaliatory discharge for
filing a worker's compensation claim in violation of
Tennessee law. [Doc. 18]. Having dismissed her federal
claims, Plaintiff filed a motion requesting this Court to
remand the case to state court [Doc. 19]. In response,
Defendant filed a Motion for Attorney Fees [Doc. 21] arguing
that Defendant should be reimbursed in connection with the
defense of the federal claims which were subsequently
dismissed by Plaintiff.
Motion for Attorney Fees
Champion moves under 42 U.S.C. § 1988 for fees and
expenses it incurred in defending Plaintiff's claim for
disability discrimination brought against it under the
Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). [Doc. 21].
Southern Champion has not demonstrated that Plaintiff's
ADA claim for disability discrimination was frivolous,
unreasonable, or without foundation. See Christianburg
Garment Co. v. Equal Emp't Opportunity Comm'n,
434 U.S. 412, 422 (1987), Thomas v. Copeland, 758
Fed.Appx. 377, 383 (6th Cir. 2018). In her response [Doc.
23], Plaintiff has referred to facts which raise a colorable
disability discrimination claim. A plaintiff is not required
to accept a defendant's version of facts or even the
EEOC's version of facts and may explore the factual basis
for a claim before ultimately determining not to pursue it.
That appears to be the case here. The Court does not deem
Plaintiff's ADA claim to be frivolous, unreasonable or
without foundation. Consequently, Defendant is not entitled
to attorney fees and expenses.
Southern Champion has not demonstrated that the work for
which Defendant seeks fees was unrelated to Plaintiff's
retaliatory discharge claim brought under Tennessee law.
Courts should not reduce fees simply because a plaintiff has
not prevailed on all claims. Hensley v. Eckerhart,
461 U.S. 424, 434-37 (1983). Rather, the court should consider
whether work performed for one or more unsuccessful claims
can also apply to successful claims. Where a plaintiff's
claims involve "a common core of facts" or are
based on "related legal theories, . . . [m]uch of
counsel's time will be devoted generally to the
litigation as a whole, making it difficult to divide the
hours expended on a claim by claim basis."
Hensley, 461 U.S. at 435. So, for this reason as
well, the Court concludes Defendant is not entitled to fees
Motion for Extension of Time
Pursuant to the Court's November 14, 2018 Scheduling
Order, the deadline for the parties to submit their final
witness lists is June 18, 2019; the discovery deadline is
June 28, 2019; and the deadline to file dispositive motions
is July 16, 2019. The Motion for Extension of Time [Doc. 26]
is hereby GRANTED and the Court
EXTENDS by thirty days the deadlines for the
final witness list, discovery, and dispositive motions.
Motion to Remand
is no federal cause of action in the Amended Complaint.
Further, diversity jurisdiction is lacking since both
Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of Tennessee.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendant has no
objection to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand to state court.
[Doc. 19]. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), if "at
any time before final judgment it appears that the district
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be