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Wani v. George Fox University

United States District Court, D. Oregon, Portland Division

March 25, 2019

SAMUEL W. WANI, Plaintiff,


          Youlee Yim You United States Magistrate Judge.

         Plaintiff Samuel Wani (“Wani”), proceeding pro se, alleges various claims stemming from a hand injury he sustained during football practice at George Fox University (“GFU”) in August 2015. In his original Complaint, Wani alleged claims against Dominick Fix-Gonzalez (“Fix-Gonzalez”), Dr. Thomas Croy (“Dr. Croy”), Providence Medical Group (“Providence”), GFU, and nine GFU employees, including Head Football Athletic Trainer, Gregg Boughton (“Boughton”), and Head Coach, Chis Casey (“Casey”), for: (1) “Cyberbullying, racial verbal harassment” (First Claim); (2) two claims of negligence, titled as claims for “Discrimination, medical false claim, fraud, negligence, and intentional infliction of physical/emotional pain and suffering” (Second Claim) and “Medical fraud, negligence and refusal of treatment” (Third Claim); (3) “Racial discrimination and hatred” (Fourth Claim); (4) “Wrongful Disclosure of Individually Identifiable Health Information (HIPAA Violations)” (Fifth Claim); and (5) breach of contract (Sixth Claim). Compl. 9-11, ECF #1. He sought damages totaling over $70 million. Id. at 11.

         On September 28, 2017, Wani voluntarily dismissed all claims against Providence. ECF #53. On April 5, 2018, this court granted GFU defendants' Rule 12 motion, and dismissed plaintiff's first, second, third, and sixth claims without prejudice, and plaintiff's fifth claim with prejudice. ECF #146. On November 15, 2018, on motion for summary judgment, this court dismissed all claims against defendants Fix-Gonzalez and Dr. Croy. ECF #209. This court also dismissed all claims against the individual GFU defendants, except that the court granted Wani's motion to file an amended complaint limited to personal injury claims against Boughton, Casey, and GFU. Id. Wani filed his amended complaint on December 3, 2018, and defendants filed a second motion for summary judgment on December 28, 2018. ECF #213. The court finds that this matter is suitable for decision without oral argument pursuant to LR 7-1(d)(1), and the motion for summary judgment is granted for the reasons discussed below.[1]


         Under FRCP 56(a), “[t]he court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” The party moving for summary judgment bears the initial responsibility of informing the court of the basis for the motion and identifying portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions, or affidavits that demonstrate the absence of a triable issue of material fact. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). Once the moving party does so, the nonmoving party must “go beyond the pleadings” and “designate ‘specific facts showing that there is a genuine issue for trial.'” Id. at 324 (citing FRCP 56(e)).

         In determining what facts are material, the court considers the underlying substantive law regarding the claims. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). Otherwise stated, only disputes over facts that might affect the outcome of the suit preclude the entry of summary judgment. Id. A dispute about a material fact is genuine if there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable jury to return a verdict for the non-moving party. Id. at 248-49. A “scintilla of evidence” or “evidence that is merely colorable or not significantly probative” is insufficient to create a genuine issue of material fact. Addisu v. Fred Meyer, Inc., 198 F.3d 1130, 1134 (9th Cir. 2000). The court “does not weigh the evidence or determine the truth of the matter, but only determines whether there is a genuine issue for trial.” Balint v. Carson City, Nev., 180 F.3d 1047, 1054 (9th Cir. 1999). “Reasonable doubts as to the existence of material factual issue are resolved against the moving parties and inferences are drawn in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Addisu, 198 F.3d at 1134 (citation omitted).


         The only remaining claims are negligence claims, which are governed by Oregon law. This court has supplemental jurisdiction over those claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3). However, the court has discretion to keep the case, or decline to keep it, if the court has “dismissed all claims over which it has original jurisdiction.” Acri v. Varian Assocs., Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1000 (9th Cir.), supplemented, 121 F.3d 714 (9th Cir. 1997), as amended (Oct. 1, 1997).

         “Section 1367(c)(3) derives from [the Supreme Court's] admonition that ‘[n]eedless decisions of state law should be avoided.'” Trustees of Constr. Indus. & Laborers Health & Welfare Tr. v. Desert Valley Landscape & Maint., Inc., 333 F.3d 923, 925-26 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting United Mine Workers v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966)); see also Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 n.7 (1988) (“[I]n the usual case in which all federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of the factors to be considered under the pendent jurisdiction doctrine-judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity-will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state-law claims.”). In exercising its discretion, the district court must “explain how declining jurisdiction serves the objectives of economy, convenience and fairness to the parties, and comity.” Trustees of Constr. Indus., 333 F.3d at 925.

         “[A]ctually exercising discretion and deciding whether to decline, or to retain, supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims when any factor in subdivision (c) is implicated is a responsibility that district courts are duty-bound to take seriously.” Acri, 114 F.3d at 1001. “Given the importance of these values in our federal system, the proper administration of justice is far better served by a deliberative decision than by default.” Id.

         The parties have not asked the court to remand this case to state court, and this court is not obligated to consider the issue where it has not been raised by the parties. Id. (“[W]hile a district court must be sure that it has federal jurisdiction under § 1367(a), once it is satisfied that the power to resolve state law claims exists, the court is not required to make a § 1367(c) analysis unless asked to do so by a party.”). However, in this case, discovery has been completed and a number of dispositive motions have been decided. Given how far this case has advanced, the most sensible way of accommodating the economics, convenience, and fairness of the parties is to resolve the remaining negligence claims in federal court.


         I. Previously Denied Claims and Motions

         In his response to defendants' motion for summary judgment, Wani dedicates significant sections of his brief to revisiting and rehashing issues that have already been resolved and are not properly before the court. For example, Wani repeatedly insists that this court must re-evaluate the claims against Dr. Croy. Pl. Resp. 2, 7, 14, ECF #219. However, the court has already granted summary judgment on those claims. See Opinion and Order 10, ECF #209.

         Wani also argues it is necessary for the court to “bring back [the] formerly dismissed defendants . . . for a full resolution of this case.” Pl. Resp. 4-5, ECF #219. Wani voluntarily dismissed all claims against Providence, and the claims against the other defendants-aside from Boughton, Casey, and GFU-were dismissed after full briefing and vetting of the issues. See ECF #53; Opinion and Order 10, ECF #209. As such, the claims against those former defendants have been fully resolved and cannot be resurrected.

         Wani further contends that “there are still discoverable documents that relat[e] directly to the disputable material facts that the defendants have [and] are still withholding and further discovery is needed.” Pl. Resp. 4, ECF #219. However, this issue too has already been resolved. Wani filed a motion to compel ...

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