Today, Judge Sullivan remanded to New York state court a case against MLB brought by a former Milwaukee Brewers and Cincinnati Reds player Neiman Nix. The complaint alleged that MLB investigators spread misinformation about Nix’s player training academy and “sports science testing facility” in Florida, and included claims for defamation, tortious interference, and violation of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.
Judge Sullivan dismissed the sole federal claim under the CFAA at the plaintiff’s behest, despite the defendants’ argument that plaintiffs’ position was solely intended to defeat federal jurisdiction. Judge Sullivan found that while forum manipulation was frowned upon, it did not require the court to exercise its supplemental jurisdiction after all federal claims had been dismissed:
In their opposition brief, Defendants urge the Court to retain jurisdiction because “Plaintiffs are clearly and intentionally attempting to engage in forum manipulation, to again delay the adjudication of their claims and avoid an unfavorable decision in this Court.” Defendants note that Plaintiffs “plainly knew they were advancing a federal claim and risked removal” in state court and Defendants insist that Plaintiffs are shifting forums once again in a vain attempt to delay the dismissal with prejudice of their remaining claims . . . . [A]s the Supreme Court observed in Cohill, “[i]f the plaintiff has attempted to manipulate the forum, the court should take this behavior into account in determining whether the balance of factors to be considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine support a remand in the case.” Nevertheless, the Supreme Court has never held that such “manipulation ought to be dispositive.” To the contrary, as Justice Holmes once wrote for a unanimous Supreme Court, “the plaintiff is absolute master of what jurisdiction he will appeal to” in our federal system. Thus, courts generally grant motions to remand where, as here, a plaintiff has voluntarily dismissed his federal claims prior to the start of discovery, even when his “manifest purpose” in doing so “is to defeat federal jurisdiction.”