ST. LOUIS – A federal judge has remanded to state court a case in which a fired employee accused a company of violating his human rights.
U.S. District Court Judge Charles A. Shaw of the Eastern District of Missouri remanded the case May 24 to the 12th Judicial Circuit Court in Warren County citing lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Insulation manufacturers Silvercote LLC and a named manager terminated the employment of Terry Dillard in violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act, Dillard alleged.
Dillard, who was employed for 22 years by the company at its Wright City plant, claims he was terminated after training up a younger employee and "despite favorable performance evaluations," Shaw's memorandum and order states. Dillard alleged was protected under the MHRA because he was older than 40.
The company and co-defendant Steve Davis wanted the case removed to federal court, claiming diversity of jurisdiction as Silvercote claimed to be a corporate citizen of Delaware and Indiana.
But Shaw denied the request because the plant is situated in Missouri and because Davis, who allegedly carried out the firing, is a citizen of the state.
Shaw cited previous case law that states “a defendant may not remove to federal court on the basis of diversity if any of the defendants is a citizen of the state where the action was filed."
The judge added, "If defendant Davis is a properly joined defendant, removal would not be allowed...because he is a citizen of Missouri, the forum state."
Defendants argued that Davis was not directly involved in the alleged discriminatory conduct, the order states, adding that the plaintiff in the case had agreed with this position in depositions.
Silvercote's parent company, the defendants said, is Knauf Insulation, a Delaware corporation with its main business in Indiana.
Further, the company argued, there is "no reasonable basis in fact or law to support a MHRA claim against defendant Davis, and thus it is clear he was fraudulently joined in this suit to defeat diversity jurisdiction."
Dillard responded by stating that "even if the court were to review the evidence, defendants have not established that defendant Davis was fraudulently joined."
He also argued that the defendants misread the deposition and that "there is evidence in the record, albeit not direct evidence, establishing defendant Davis discriminated against plaintiff in violation of the MHRA."