United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Linda T.
Walker's Final Report and Recommendation  (the
“Final R&R”). The Final R&R recommends
that this action be remanded to the Superior Court of Fulton
County for lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction.
Dr. Freda Mensah, was a medical resident enrolled in
Defendant Morehouse School of Medicine's
(“Defendant”) Community Pediatric Residency
Program. On or about February 9, 2015, Plaintiff and
Defendant entered into a settlement agreement (the
“Settlement Agreement”) readmitting Plaintiff
into Defendant's program after Plaintiff agreed to a
general release of all claims and voluntarily dismissed her
then-pending action against Defendant in this Court in case
captioned 1:14-cv-1991-WBH. In that lawsuit, Plaintiff
alleged that Defendant discriminated against her on the basis
of her disability in violation of the Americans with
Disabilities Act, 42 U.S.C. § 12182 (“the
ADA”) and the Rehabilitation Act, 29 U.S.C. § 701,
when Defendant denied her requests for reasonable
accommodation and dismissed her from the residency program.
(See Mensah v. Morehouse Sch. of Medicine, No.
1:14-CV-1991, Am. Compl.,  ¶¶ 65-79 (N.D.Ga.
Aug. 25, 2014)).
22, 2016, Plaintiff filed this action against Defendant in
the Superior Court of Fulton County. ([1.1]). Plaintiff
alleges state law causes of action for breach of the
Settlement Agreement, damage to reputation, liability for
punitive damages, and attorney's fees due to
Defendant's bad faith and stubborn litigiousness.
Plaintiff alleges that under the Settlement Agreement,
Defendant was required to readmit her back into the Pediatric
Residency Program as a Post Graduate Year 1 resident and
provide reasonable accommodation for a broad range of covered
disabilities. (See Compl. ¶¶ 3, 9;
Agreement and General Release, Pl.'s Dep., Ex. 3, at 2
([14.4] at 40) (explaining that Plaintiff “acknowledges
that she is only entitled to a reasonable accommodation as
defined under the ADA”)).
also alleges that although she fully complied with her
obligations under the Settlement Agreement, Defendant delayed
her reentry into the program for more than a month, failed to
provide her with self-study materials it agreed to make
available prior to readmission, refused to grant her
permission to take time off for a post-surgery medical
examination and procedure, omitted to provide her with access
to a website containing mandatory training modules, did not
include her on resident email communications which provided
critical information necessary for her successful completion
of the program, denied her leave so that she could attend
mandatory orientation for residents, and refused to provide
clinic experiences equivalent to those provided to other
residents. (Compl. ¶¶ 4-14, 21). Plaintiff claims
that Defendant's failure to provide her with training and
access to training resources adversely impacted her
evaluations and maintains that she was subjected to letters
being placed in her file criticizing her professionalism and
documenting performance issues. (Id. ¶¶
16-20). Plaintiff contends that Defendant's alleged
failures and omissions breached the Settlement Agreement and
caused her to be unable to complete the residency program
resulting in professional harm and harm to her reputation.
(Id. ¶¶ 33-39).
September 7, 2016, Defendant removed this action to this
Court  pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and
1446. In asserting its basis for federal-question
jurisdiction, Defendant argues that “it appears”
that Plaintiff “seeks to recover for alleged violations
of federal anti-discrimination laws pursuant to the [ADA]
and/or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973.”
(Notice of Removal  ¶ 3). To demonstrate that this
action presents a federal question, Defendant notes that
Plaintiff has filed two complaints with Defendant's
Office of Civil Rights in late 2015 alleging that Defendant
violated the Rehabilitation Act when Defendant denied her
access to the same services, programs, and activities as
other residents due to her disabilities, retaliated against
her, and failed to accommodate her disabilities.
(Id. ¶¶ 7-8). Finally, Defendant argues
that in the Settlement Agreement, Plaintiff consented to the
exclusive jurisdiction of this Court for matters relating to
a breach of the settlement agreement. (Id. ¶
15, 2017, Defendant filed its Motion for Summary Judgment
. That motion was submitted to the Magistrate Judge on
June 20, 2017.
January 4, 2018, the Magistrate Judge issued the Final
R&R . In the Final R&R, the Magistrate Judge did
not address Defendant's motion for summary judgment.
Instead, the Magistrate Judges raised the issue of federal
subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte, and
recommended that this action be remanded to the Superior
Court of Fulton County for lack of jurisdiction. The
Magistrate Judge found (i) on its face, the Complaint does
not assert claims pursuant to the ADA or the Rehabilitation
Act; (ii) Plaintiff's breach of contract claim does not
confer federal question jurisdiction even if it invokes
federal disability discrimination law; and (iii) the Court
does not have ancillary jurisdiction over the Settlement
Agreement despite language in the agreement consenting to the
jurisdiction of this Court for matters relating to breach of
the Settlement Agreement.
January 18, 2018, Defendant filed its Objections to the Final
R&R . Defendant objects to the Magistrate Judge's
finding that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction on
the grounds that Plaintiff's breach of contract claim
raises a substantial federal issue.
Standard of Review of a Magistrate Judge's
conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and
recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or
modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright, 681
F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir. 1982) (per curiam). A district judge
“shall make a de novo determination of those portions
of the report or specified proposed findings or
recommendations to which objection is made.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1). Where no party has objected to the report
and recommendation, the Court conducts only a plain error
review of the record. United States v. Slay, 714
F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983) (per curiam).
objects to the Magistrate Judge's finding that the fact
Plaintiff's breach of contract claim may turn on issues
of federal disability discrimination law under the ADA is
insufficient to confer federal jurisdiction. The Court
conducts its review of those findings and recommendations
de novo. Defendant does not object to the Magistrate
Judge's finding that the Complaint, on its face, does not
state a claim for relief under federal law. Nor does
Defendant object to the Magistrate Judge's finding that
the Court may not exercise ancillary jurisdiction over the
Settlement Agreement by way ...