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Blake v. Arana

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

May 14, 2014

PATRICIA H. BLAKE, Plaintiff,
v.
WILSON GUSTAVO GONZALEZ ARANA, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Patricia H. Blake sued Wilson Gustavo Gonzalez Arana ("Arana") and Spiniello Companies, Inc. ("Spiniello"), (collectively "the Defendants"), in the Circuit Court of Maryland for Baltimore City to recover for injuries arising out of an accident. Spiniello removed the action. Pending is Blake's motion to remand. No hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the following reasons, the motion to remand will be granted.

I. Background[1]

A. General Background and Procedural History

On August 8, 2013, Blake sued the Defendants in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland for negligence and other claims arising out of an accident in Baltimore City on December 4, 2012. See ECF No. 2. On September 3, 2013, Spiniello removed the action to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. In the notice of removal, Spiniello states that it was served on August 28, 2013. ECF No. 1 ¶ 2. With respect to its own citizenship, Spiniello asserts that "the Defendant Spiniello Companies, Inc., is a corporation organized under the laws of the State of New Jersey." ECF No. 1 ¶ 3. Spiniello also states in the notice of removal that "the Defendant Wilson Gustavo Gonzalez Arana is alleged to be a citizen of the State of Maryland, however, upon information and belief, [he] is a resident of Annandale, Fairfax County, Virginia." ECF No. 1 ¶ 5. The notice of removal further provides that "[t]he plaintiff, a resident of the State of Georgia, seeks damages in excess of the minimum jurisdiction of this Court." ECF No. 1 ¶ 4. The civil cover sheet attached to the Notice of Removal includes a checked box under the defendant column that reads: "Incorporated and Principal Place of Business In Another State." ECF No. 1, Ex. 1.

On September 7, 2013, Spiniello answered the complaint. ECF No. 8. On October 5, 2013, Arana answered the complaint. ECF No. 13. On November 4, 2013, Blake moved to remand. ECF No. 19. On November 12, 2013, Arana opposed the motion. ECF No. 20.

B. Residency of Arana

In a December 4, 2012 Police Report, Arana listed his address as "8111 Tahona Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland, 20903" and stated that he had a Maryland driver's license. ECF No. 19-2. Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration Driving Records issued on September 6, 2013 and September 20, 2013 provide the same address in Silver Spring, Maryland for Arana. ECF Nos. 19-3, 19-4. In an Affidavit of Service, a process server stated that he personally served Jose Arana at 8111 Tahona Drive, Silver Spring, Maryland. ECF No. 16. The affidavit said Jose Arana was a cousin of Wilson Gustavo Gonzalez Arana. See ECF No. 16. The note "CO-RESIDENT" appears next to Jose Arana's name in different handwriting. See ECF No. 16.

Jose Arana submitted an affidavit stating that "I did not tell the process server that my cousin Wilson lived with me. My English is not very good and I don't know what he was asking me, but I did agree to give the papers to Wilson." ECF No. 20-2 at 1. He also stated that Wilson Arana lives in Virginia. ECF No. 20-2 at 2. Wilson Arana also filed an affidavit stating that he currently lives at 7521 Allman Drive in Annandale, Virginia, he moved from Silver Spring, Maryland to Annandale before December 4, 2012, and he has not changed his driver's license. ECF No. 20-3 at 1. Arana submitted a number of documents that list his Annandale address: (1) an IRS reminder of overdue taxes for 2007;[2] (2) a 2012 W-2 Wage and Tax Statement;[3] (3) a Bank of America checking account statement for June 8, 2013 to July 10, 2013;[4] an HY Cite Finance statement dated November 14, 2013.[5]

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant... to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing where such action is pending." But, if the action may only be removed to the District of Maryland based on diversity jurisdiction, it may not be removed if any properly joined and served defendant is a citizen of Maryland. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2).

To remove a case, the defendant must file a notice of removal in the district court within 30 days after receiving the initial pleading, or within 30 days after the defendant receives a copy of a paper from which it is first evident that the case is removable. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a)-(b). All defendants must join in or consent to the removal. Id. § 1446(b)(2)(A). The removing party has the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction. Md. Stadium Auth. v. Ellerbe Becket Inc., 407 F.3d 255, 260 (4th Cir. 2005). Because removal raises "significant federalism concerns, " the removal ...


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