City of Tipp City v. City of Dayton
Cite as: 204 F.R.D. 388
U.S. DISTRICT COURT, SOUTHERN DIST. OHIO, WESTERN DIV.
CITY OF TIPP CITY et al., Plaintiffs
CITY OF DAYTON, Defendant
Case No. C-3-00-454
Decided September 24, 2001
For TIPP CITY OHIO, MONROE TOWNSHIP, plaintiffs: Joseph Philip Moore, Sunderland & Moore, Vandalia, OH; Michelle L. Kranz; David W. Zoll, Zoll & Krantz, Toledo, OH.
For CITY OF DAYTON, defendant: Larry Holliday James, Crabbe Brown & James, Columbus, OH. For CITY OF DAYTON, defendant: Julia LaRita McNeil, City of Dayton Law Department; Walter John Krygowski, City Attorney's Office, Dayton, OH.
JUDGES: WALTER HERBERT RICE, CHIEF JUDGE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
OPINION BY: WALTER HERBERT RICE
DECISION AND ENTRY OVERRULING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR REMAND (DOC. # 10); PLAINTIFFS GRANTED FOURTEEN (14) DAYS FROM DATE TO FILE RULE 12(B)(1) MOTION; DEFENDANT GRANTED FOURTEEN (14) DAYS TO RESPOND TO PLAINTIFFS' SUBMISSIONS, IF ANY; DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS (DOC. # 9) OVERRULED, WITHOUT PREJUDICE TO RENEWAL, SHOULD THIS COURT ULTIMATELY RULE THAT IT HAS SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
This litigation concerns noise pollution caused by northeast departures of flights from the Dayton International Airport ("DIA"), located in Vandalia, Ohio. Plaintiff City of Tipp City is a municipality located in Miami County, Ohio, which lies northeast of DIA. Plaintiff Monroe Township is a township within Miami County, and it includes the City of Tipp City. Defendant City of Dayton is a municipality in Montgomery County, Ohio, which owns and operates DIA. Plaintiffs allege that, as the owner and operator of DIA, Defendant is responsible for the noise generated by airport operations.
In their Complaint (Doc. # 1), which was originally filed in the Common Pleas Court of Miami County and removed to this Court by Defendant, Plaintiffs set forth two causes of action against the City of Dayton, to wit: 1) a state law claim for nuisance (Count One), and 2) a state law tort claim, based on a breach of the City of Dayton's duty to engage in dialogue and to communicate with the communities who claim to be adversely affected by DIA (Count Two).
Pending before the Court are Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand (Doc. # 10) and Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings (Doc. # 9). For the reasons assigned, Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand is OVERRULED. Defendant's Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings is OVERRULED, without prejudice to renewal, should this Court ultimately conclude that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this action.
I. Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (Doc. # 10)
The party seeking to litigate in federal court bears the burden of establishing the existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction. McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance Corp. of Indiana, 298 U.S. 178, 189, 80 L. Ed. 1135, 56 S. Ct. 780 (1936). This is no less true where, as here, it is the Defendant, rather than the Plaintiffs, who seeks the federal forum. E.g., Ahearn v. Charter Twp. of Bloomfield, 100 F.3d 451, 453-54 (6th Cir. 1996). When the party asserting federal jurisdiction finds its allegations challenged, it must submit evidence substantiating its claims. Amen v. City of Dearborn, 532 F.2d 554, 560 (6th Cir. 1976). The removing defendant's burden is to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the jurisdictional facts it alleges are true. Gafford v. General Electric Co., 997 F.2d 150, 158 (6th Cir. 1993). The district court has "wide discretion to allow affidavits, documents and even a limited evidentiary hearing to resolve disputed jurisdictional facts." Ohio Nat. Life Ins. Co. v. United States, 922 F.2d 320, 325 (6th Cir. 1990)(citations omitted). The court may consider such evidence without turning the motion into one for summary judgment. Id.
Where the Court elects to decide the jurisdictional issue on the written materials submitted, the removing Defendant is required only to make a prima facie case of jurisdiction. Armbruster v. Quinn, 711 F.2d 1332, 1335 (6th Cir. 1983). In other words, it must only "demonstrate facts which support a finding of jurisdiction in order to avoid a motion to dismiss." Id. (citations omitted). The Court must consider the pleadings and affidavits in the light most favorable to the removing Defendant. Id.
Plaintiffs present two arguments in favor of remand of this litigation to the state court. First, they contend that the City of Dayton's Notice of Removal is defective, because it fails to provide a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal. Second, they argue that the Complaint contains no basis for federal jurisdiction. Defendants counter that Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand should be overruled, because they did not oppose Defendant's removal of this action within twenty-one (21) days. In addition, they argue that Plaintiffs' state law claims are completely preempted, thus providing federal question jurisdiction. As a means of analysis, the Court will address the parties' procedural arguments, and then turn to their arguments regarding the basis for subject matter jurisdiction.
A. Procedural Requirements for Removal
Defendant argues that Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand is untimely and, therefore, their Motion should be denied. The timeliness of a motion for remand is governed by 28 U.S.C. 1447(c). That statute states, in pertinent part:
In their Motion, Plaintiffs contend that the City of Dayton has failed to comply with the procedural requirements of 28 U.S.C. 1441 and 1446 for removal. In particular, they argue that Defendant has failed to provide a short and plain statement, setting forth the basis for this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. Because Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand was filed more than thirty (30) days after removal, Plaintiffs have waived their objection to this alleged procedural defect. [FN 1] Accordingly, the Court will not remand the present lawsuit on the basis of Defendant's allegedly defective Notice of Removal. Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand, on the ground that the Notice of Removal is procedurally defective, is OVERRULED.
B. Federal Question Jurisdiction
In its memorandum in opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand, the City of Dayton argues that Plaintiffs' nuisance claim is preempted by federal law. In particular, it states, citing City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 633, 36 L. Ed. 2d 547, 93 S. Ct. 1854 (1973), that "Congress expressly gave the FAA exclusive responsibility for regulating aircraft commerce and use of airspace." (Doc. # 13 at 3). Thus, it argues, Congress has completely preempted this area of law, by virtue of the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978, 49 U.S.C. 41713, thus rendering Plaintiffs' state law nuisance claim a federal claim.
There are two aspects to federal preemption of state law: conflict preemption and complete preemption. Conflict preemption arises where compliance with both federal and state law is a physically impossible, or "where state law stands as an obstacle to the accomplishment and execution of the full purposes and objectives of Congress." Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67, 85 L. Ed. 581, 61 S. Ct. 399 (1941); Silkwood v. Kerr-McGee Corp., 464 U.S. 238, 248, 78 L. Ed. 2d 443, 104 S. Ct. 615 (1984); see Warner v. Ford Motor Co., 46 F.3d 531, 533 (6th Cir. 1994) (en banc) (discussing difference between conflict and complete preemption). In contrast, "if Congress evidences an intent to occupy a given field, any state law falling within that field is [completely] preempted." Pacific Gas & Elec. Co. v. State Energy Resources Conserv. & Dev. Comm'n, 461 U.S. 190, 75 L. Ed. 2d 752, 103 S. Ct. 1713 (1983).
In determining whether a court has federal subject matter jurisdiction, the court ordinarily begins by examining the plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63, 95 L. Ed. 2d 55, 107 S. Ct. 1542 (1987). The "well-pleaded complaint rule" provides that "the plaintiff is the master of the complaint, that [for removal to be proper] a federal question must appear on the face of the complaint, and that the plaintiff may, by eschewing claims based on federal law, choose to have the cause heard in state court." Warner, 46 F.3d at 533. If the plaintiff's claim arises under state law, the mere assertion of federal preemption as a defensive argument will not confer federal question subject matter jurisdiction. As stated by the Supreme Court in Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor,
To date, the Supreme Court has applied the doctrine of complete preemption to only a few federal statutes, most notably section 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act ("LMRA"), 29 U.S.C. 185, and section 1132(a) of the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act ("ERISA"). Strong v. Telectronics Pacing Sys., Inc., 78 F.3d 256, 259 (6th Cir. 1996); Smith v. Provident Bank, 170 F.3d 609 (6th Cir. 1999); see also El Paso Natural Gas Co. v. Neztsosie, 526 U.S. 473, 484, 143 L. Ed. 2d 635, 119 S. Ct. 1430 (1999) (Price-Anderson Act's unusual preemption provision resembles complete preemption doctrine).
The Supreme Court addressed a State's ability to regulate aircraft noise in City of Burbank v. Lockheed Air Terminal, Inc., 411 U.S. 624, 633, 36 L. Ed. 2d 547, 93 S. Ct. 1854 (1973). As summarized by the Sixth Circuit,
When the Court in Burbank turned to the FAA regulations to determine federal pervasiveness in the regulation of aircraft noise, it discovered: (1) the existence of express language in a Senate Report, which stated that "States and local governments are preempted from establishing or enforcing noise emission standards...."; (2) the existence of two agencies, the EPA and the FAA, with control over aircraft noise; and (3) the imposition of a variety of regulations governing noise by the Administrator of the FAA. Id. at 628-34, 93 S. Ct. at 1856-60. The Court in Burbank focused upon the fact that the Federal Aviation Act, the attendant regulations, the legislative history of the Act, the Noise Control Act, and the EPA clearly identified noise regulation as a field fully regulated by the federal government. The combination of these factors made it obvious that in regard to noise control, Congress intended to occupy the field of regulation. Id. at 638, 93 S. Ct. at 1862. Based on this evidence of pervasiveness, the Court in Burbank determined that aircraft noise was so comprehensively and strictly regulated by the federal government that it precluded enforcement of state or local laws on the same subject. Id. at 638-39, 93 S. Ct. at 1862-63.
Turning to Defendant's argument that Plaintiffs' nuisance claim is preempted, pursuant to § 41713, the critical issue is whether preemption under § 41713 results in Plaintiffs' state law claim being converted to a federal claim, thus allowing for removal on that basis. Herein, Plaintiffs allege that, in order to minimize the negative impacts of the noise generated by northeast departures, the City of Dayton (acting as DIA's operator) requested, and the Federal Aviation Administration agreed to adopt, Tower Orders, which govern and regulate the northeast departure of jet airplanes (Compl. P 9). To that end, Tower Order 7110.30A was issued on or about May 3, 1995 (id. P 10), and was modified on August 14, 1995 (Tower Order 7110.30B) (id. P 15). "The Tower Orders mandated that certain flights follow specifically designed flight corridors designed to limit the environmental and human impact from the noise and other pollution generated by planes." (Id. P 16) Plaintiffs allege that DIA's Air Traffic Control Tower has failed to enforce these Tower Orders for Emery flights over Monroe Township and Tipp City (id. P 19). They further allege that Defendant has intentionally prevented the implementation or enforcement of the Orders, and this lack of implementation has created a nuisance (id. P 23).
Upon review of the relevant case law, the Court has found no basis for concluding that Plaintiffs' nuisance claim is completely preempted by federal law. In particular, the Court has not found authority which has interpreted the ADA preemption provision such that an ostensibly state law claim, i.e., a nuisance claim, which falls within § 41713 is converted into a federal claim under the ADA. [FN 3] Numerous courts have held that Federal Aviation Act, as amended by the ADA, does not provide a private right of action. See Musson Theatrical, Inc. v. Federal Exp. Corp., 89 F.3d 1244 (6th Cir. 1996) (no express or implied right of action against an air carrier for deceptive advertising under the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978); Margolis v. United Airlines, Inc., 811 F. Supp. 318 (E.D. Mich. 1993) ("The Federal Aviation Act of 1958 (FAA), as amended by the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 (ADA), 49 U.S.C.A.App. §§ 1301-1551, does not preempt traditional state law claims for negligence and does not provide for a private right of action for violations of FAA regulations."). Thus, a state law claim could not be converted into a federal claim under that statute.
2. "Arising Under" Federal Law
Although Defendant's complete preemption argument is not persuasive, the Court feels compelled, due to the nature of Plaintiffs' pleadings, to address whether their nuisance claim arises under federal law, thus rendering federal subject matter jurisdiction proper. [FN 4] As stated by the Supreme Court in Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc., v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 92 L. Ed. 2d 650, 106 S. Ct. 3229 (1986),
[FN 5] To make clear, a state law claim which "arises under" federal law remains a state law claim. Unlike claims which are completely preempted, i.e., claims within the purview of § 1132(a) of ERISA or § 301 of the Labor Management Relations Act, they are not converted into claims under a federal statute. Rather, they remain state law claims over which federal courts have original jurisdiction.
Herein, Plaintiffs' Complaint appears to raise a substantial question of federal law. To reiterate, Plaintiffs allege that the FAA issued Tower Orders 7110.30A and 7110.30B, which mandated that certain flights follow specifically designed flight corridors designed to limit noise and other pollution. DIA's Air Traffic Control Tower allegedly has failed to enforce these Tower Orders for Emery flights over Monroe Township and Tipp City (id. P 19). Plaintiffs further allege that Defendant has intentionally prevented the implementation or enforcement of the Tower Orders. The merits of Plaintiffs' nuisance claim clearly raise the question of whether the Tower Orders have been implemented and, consequently, whether DIA is acting in accordance with those Orders. Although the parties have not briefed the issue of the legal effect of a tower order, it appears that they have the force of an FAA regulation. The Tower Orders at issue were approved by the FAA, they are printed on FAA letterhead, and are signed by Richard K. Petersen, Air Traffic Manager of the Dayton Air Traffic Control Tower, who the Court believes to be an agent of the FAA. Thus, Plaintiffs' Complaint indicates that their nuisance claim is premised on the City of Dayton's failure to comply with FAA requirements. [FN 6] Sable v. General Motors Corp., 90 F.3d 171, 174-75 (6th Cir. 1996) ("arising under" jurisdiction existed where plaintiff's state law tort claim was premised on defendants' breach of a duty created under federal law); City of Chicago v. International College of Surgeons, 522 U.S. 156, 164, 139 L. Ed. 2d 525, 118 S. Ct. 523 (1997) (federal court had jurisdiction over claim under Illinois Administrative Review Law when claim included various federal constitutional challenges to other state statutes and to how the administrative proceedings were conducted). In light of the federal government's extensive control over aircraft noise regulation, Burbank, supra, the federal interest in this case is substantial. The Court, therefore, concludes that a prima facie showing has been made that Plaintiffs' nuisance claim, although stated in terms of state law, "arises under" federal law, and that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over same. Accordingly, Plaintiffs' Motion for Remand (Doc. # 10) is OVERRULED.
September 24, 2001
WALTER HERBERT RICE, CHIEF JUDGE
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT