Visually-impaired man loses bid to return discrimination suit against Bi-State Development Agency to state court

By Charmaine Little | Feb 6, 2019

ST. LOUIS – The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri recently denied a visually-impaired man's motion to remand his discrimination suit against the Bi-State Development Agency of the Missouri-Illinois Metropolitan District to the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis.

In a Jan. 29 filing, U.S. District Judge Charles A. Shaw denied the motion filed by Scott Gustafson who initially filed suit against the agency in the St. Louis Circuit Court in December 2015.

The suit sought injunctive relief and money damages, claiming the agency violated the Missouri Human Rights Act when it didn’t properly offer equal access to services and public places of accommodation, specifically MetroBus and MetroLink, court filings said. 

After two amended complaints, the defendant removed the action to the federal court on Dec. 12 following Gustafson’s motion for leave to file a third amended complaint, court filings said. Gustafson then filed a motion in district court to remand the case back to the circuit court.

Gustafson said the case should be remanded since the defendant didn’t timely seek removal within 30 days of the date Gustafson asked for the defendant’s permission to change his complaint and add federal claims under the Americans with Disability Act and the Rehab Act.

The court reject the argument and said, “Defendant properly waited until the state granted plaintiff’s motion for leave to amend before filing its notice of removal.”

Gustafson also argued that the defendant forfeited its right to remove the case when it went through with its intent to argue the case in state court. “Defendants actions in state court were performed well before the action became removable and ‘the court cannot conclude that defendant waived a right it did not yet have at the point in the proceedings,’” the court said.

The district court also denied Gustafson's request for attorney’s fees and costs, stating that since it decided the removal was proper, the court doesn’t have the grounds to give Gustafson his legal costs.

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Bi-State Development Agency U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri

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