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Cutillo v. Wellmore Behavioral Health

United States District Court, D. Connecticut

July 22, 2016

SUSAN CUTILLO, Plaintiff,
v.
WELLMORE BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, Defendant.

          RULING REMANDING THE CASE FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION

          VICTOR A. BOLDEN UNITED STATE DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Plaintiff, Susan Cutillo, has sued her former employer, Wellmore Behavioral Health (“Wellmore”), alleging a total of twelve legal claims arising out of two separate series of events. Am. Compl., ECF No. 20. First, she alleges that one of her Wellmore supervisors sexually harassed her. Am. Compl. ¶¶ 34-39, Count Nine, ECF No. 20. Second, she claims that Wellmore fraudulently encouraged and facilitated her application to a student loan repayment program operated by the federal government, for which she was not eligible. Id. ¶¶ 10-11, 17, 19-32.

         Ms. Cutillo alleges that Wellmore’s behavior constitutes (1) a breach of fiduciary duty; (2) a breach of a statutory duty; (3) negligent misrepresentation; (4) fraud; (5) tortious interference with a contract; (6) fraud in the inducement of a contract; (7) negligence; (8) breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing; (9) a violation of the Connecticut Fair Employment Practices Act, Conn. Gen. Stat. §46a-60 et seq.; (10) negligent infliction of emotional distress; (11) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (12) a violation of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act (“CUTPA”), Conn. Gen. Stat. 42-110a et seq. Id . at Counts One to Twelve.[1]

         Ms. Cutillo initiated this action in state court. Wellmore removed the matter to this Court, claiming that it involves questions of federal law under 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. Notice of Removal 1, ECF No. 1. Now, there are four motions pending, including a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 18; Mot. to Dismiss, ECF No. 22; Second Mot. to Amend/Correct Compl., ECF No. 41; First Mot. to Quash Subpoena, ECF No. 45. After these motions were filed and fully briefed, Ms. Cutillo voluntarily dismissed with prejudice, Count Nine, alleging sexual harassment under CFEPA, Count Ten, alleging negligent infliction of emotional distress, Count Eleven, claiming intentional infliction of emotional distress, and Count Twelve, alleging a violation of CUTPA. Stipulation, ECF No. 58. All of her other claims remain pending at this time.

         Before addressing any of the pending motions, however, the Court must determine whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over this case. See Transatl. Marine Claims Agency, Inc. v. Ace Shipping Corp., 109 F.3d 105, 107-08 (2d Cir. 1997) (subject matter jurisdiction cannot be waived and may be raised by motion or sua sponte at any time); Sarfraz v. Vohra Health Servs., PA, 663 F.Supp.2d 147, 149 (E.D.N.Y. 2009) (noting “the Court’s responsibility to be assured at all times of its subject matter jurisdiction”); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.”); see also 28 U.S.C. §1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”); Malanca v. Worth, No. 3:11cv0056(SRU)(WIG), 2011 WL 941381, at *2 (D. Conn. Feb. 8, 2011) (“Lack of removal jurisdiction may be raised by the Court sua sponte” and upon determining the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, “a remand is mandatory”).

         The Court provided counsel with an opportunity to brief this issue. Order, ECF No. 51. Wellmore submitted a brief arguing that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Def.’s Br. on Jurisdiction, ECF No. 53. For the reasons that follow, the Court disagrees with Wellmore and finds that Ms. Cutillo has failed to state any federal legal claims and, therefore, that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter. Accordingly, all of the pending motions are denied as moot.

         I. Factual Allegations

         Ms. Cutillo alleges that she began working for Wellmore on December 12, 2012 as “Vice President of Adult Services.” Am. Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 20. She claims that after January 1, 2013, Wellmore told her that it was enrolled in a federal program which allowed qualified employees to receive money towards outstanding student loan debt. Id. ¶ 10. This program is allegedly administered by the National Health Services Corps (“NHSC”), which is part of the Federal Department of Health and Human Services and the Health Resources and Services Administration. Id. ¶ 11. She claims that NHSC’s mission, which the loan repayment program also serves, is to improve the health care services available to patients in particular identified areas of need. Id. ¶ 12.

         Ms. Cutillo alleges that successful applicants to this loan repayment program enter a contract agreeing to provide health-related services for two years or more “in a position of need at a site approved by NHSC” and to “report to NHSC any change in the participant’s employment status at the approved site.” Id. ¶ 13. She also claims that employers that have positions eligible for the loan repayment program receive some kind of benefit, because they are able to attract more qualified employees. Id. ¶ 53.

         Ms. Cutillo alleges that Wellmore “actively encouraged” her to apply to the NHSC loan repayment program and that, as a result, she applied to the program in April 2013. Id. ¶¶ 16-17. She was approved to participate in the program in August 2013. Id. ¶ 32.

         Ms. Cutillo contends that Wellmore misrepresented her job and the nature of the services she and Wellmore provided to ensure that she was accepted into the program. In particular, she claims that in support of her application, and without her knowledge, Wellmore misrepresented that she was a “hands on” care provider or that she was a “full time direct service to client employee.” Id. ¶¶ 21-22. She alleges that an individual in U.S. Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro’s office informed her that this misinformation likely played a dispositive role in her approval for the program. Id. ¶ 23.

         Ms. Cutillo also contends that, while Wellmore was an NHSC-approved site for mental health care in February 2013, it was in the process of phasing out the mental health component of its services. Id. ¶¶ 14, 24-26. She claims that this phase-out resulted in Wellmore losing its status as an NHSC-approved health care site. Ms. Cutillo alleges that Wellmore never told her it was approved by NHSC for mental health care, as opposed to another type of health treatment, and that it failed to inform NHSC that it was transitioning its focus away from mental health toward substance abuse and addiction. Id. ¶¶ 27-28. She also claims that when she filed this case in September 2015, Wellmore was no longer an NHSC-approved site. Id. ¶ 33.

         Ms. Cutillo alleges that she resigned from her employment with Wellmore on September 30, 2013 and stopped working there on November 1, 2013. Id. ¶¶ 40-41.

         II. Subject ...


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