United States District Court, D. New Hampshire
N. Dore, Esq. Michael J. Iacopino, Esq. H. Jonathan Meyer,
A. DICLERICO, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Leclair brought suit against her former employer, Donovan
Spring Co., alleging federal and state claims of sex
discrimination and retaliation. Donovan Spring moved to
dismiss her claims as untimely and for failure to state a
claim. In her objection to the motion to dismiss, Leclair
explained that she was pursuing the same state law claims of
sex discrimination and retaliation in state court and
appended a copy of an order issued in that case, Sonya
Leclair v. Donovan Spring Co., 218-2018-CV-00314, which
denied Donovan Spring's motion to dismiss those
of the parallel state court proceeding, the court ordered
Leclair to show cause why this court should not abstain in
favor of the state court proceeding pursuant to Colo.
River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424
U.S. 800, 817 (1976). Leclair has filed her memorandum and
opposes abstention. Donovan Spring filed its response,
favoring abstention, and provided a copy of a subsequent
order by the state court in which the court reconsidered part
of the prior order and partially granted the motion to
Spring moved in state court, as it does here, to dismiss
Leclair's state law sex discrimination claim as untimely.
Specifically, Donovan Spring contended there and here that
the alleged incidents of harassment discrimination occurred
more than 180 days before Leclair filed her charges with the
New Hampshire Commission on Human Rights on April 16, 2015.
Donovan Spring asserted that the last incident of harassment
occurred on October 6, 2014, based on criminal complaints
filed against the coworker/perpetrator. As a result, Donovan
Springs argued, the claims were untimely under RSA 354-A:21,
objected there, and here, on the grounds that the date of the
last incident was uncertain and that time for filing the
charge did not start on the date of the incident. She argued
that the criminal complaints could not be considered for
purposes of a motion to dismiss and that the date in the
complaints might not be accurate. She also argued that the
time for filing the charge did not start until she knew that
Donovan Spring would not take remedial action.
state court agreed with Leclair and denied the motion to
dismiss. The court concluded that the criminal complaint did
not establish the date of the incident and that the filing
deadline was tolled because Leclair could not file a charge
against Donovan Spring until it investigated the incident and
failed to remedy it.
reconsideration, however, the court changed course. The court
accepted the criminal complaints as proof of the date of the
harassment incident. In addition, the court reconsidered the
meaning of RSA 354-A:21, III in light of New Hampshire cases
and concluded that harassment committed by a co-worker is the
actionable discrimination, not the response or lack of
response by the employer. For that reason, the court decided
that the 180-day time limit was not tolled while Leclair
waited for Donovan Spring to investigate the incident. As a
result, the court agreed with Donovan Spring that
Leclair's claim of sex discrimination under RSA 354-A:7
was time barred. Donovan Spring represents that Leclair has
now moved for reconsideration of that order.
brought her action in this court based on federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, arising from her
federal claims of sex discrimination and retaliation under
Title VII, 41 U.S.C. § 2000e-2(a)(1) and §
2000e-3(a). Leclair's federal and state claims arise from
the same incidents and circumstances. As provided by 28
U.S.C. § 1367(a), the court has supplemental
jurisdiction over Leclair's state law claims.
when jurisdiction exists, a federal court may decline to
exercise supplemental jurisdiction on the grounds provided by
§ 1376(c), including if “in exceptional
circumstances, there are other compelling reasons for
declining jurisdiction.” § 1367(c)(4). In deciding
whether the circumstances are exceptional, the court
considers judicial economy, comity, and convenience and
fairness to the parties. Estate of Amergi ex rel. Amergi
v. Palestinian Authority, 611 F.3d 1350, 1366 (11th Cir.
2010); Lindsay v. Gov't Emps. Ins. Co., 448 F.3d
416, 425 (D.C. Cir. 2006).
case presents the exceptional circumstance that the same
parties are simultaneously litigating the same claims under
RSA chapter 354-A in state court and in this court. As the
state court's orders demonstrate, those claims have
already raised a complex issue of state law and statutory
interpretation. These parallel proceedings are duplicative
and raise the issues associated with piecemeal litigation.
parties disagree about whether abstention would be
appropriate in this case, and the issue is far from clear. On
the other hand, however, the exceptional circumstance of
parallel proceedings, which is presented here, supports an
exercise of the court's discretion to decline
supplemental jurisdiction over the state law claims. §
foregoing reasons, the court declines to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the claims in this case that
are brought under RSA chapter 354-A. Therefore, Counts III
and IV are dismissed, without prejudice, for lack of ...