United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division
WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.
Bart Garry, pro se, sued Ronald Frederick, Esq., and Michael L. Berler, Esq. (together, the "Defendants"), for defamation and other tort claims in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. ECF No. 2. The Defendants removed the suit to this Court. ECF No. 1. Pending are the Defendants' unopposed motions to dismiss the original and amended complaints, ECF Nos. 9, 13, and Garry's motion to remand, ECF No. 12. For the following reasons, Garry's motion to remand will be denied, and the Defendants' motion to dismiss the amended complaint will be granted.
The Defendants are Ohio-based attorneys. ECF Nos. 2 at 1; 9-1 at 1; 9-4 at 1, 3. Garry resides in Baltimore, Maryland. ECF Nos. 1 at 1; 11 at 1. This suit arose when the Defendants sued Garry for $500, 000 in Ohio state court. ECF Nos. 11 ¶ 3; 9-1 at 1.
Garry alleges that the "Defendants are in the business of defrauding the public by bringing and serving frivolous claims." ECF No. 11 ¶ 1. The Defendants "make up either phony laws and/or facts, or cite totally inapplicable laws[, ] and then sue upon these laws... [in] the hope they will lead to settlements." Id. ¶ 2. The Defendants "claim[ed] that [Garry] had hundreds of times violated a law, " when they "knew that the law was inapplicable and that [Garry] had not violated the cite[d] law." Id. ¶ 3. Garry "was a victim of the tort while in Baltimore City." Id. "To the best of [Garry's] knowledge and belief[, the] Defendants have done similar actions against other individuals and small businesses throughout the country." Id. ¶ 4.
B. Procedural History
On March 7, 2014, Garry sued the Defendants in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, seeking $500, 000 in compensatory damages, unspecified punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs. ECF Nos. 1 at 1; 2 at 1, 7. On June 2, 2014, the Defendants removed the suit to this Court. ECF No. 1. On July 1, 2014, the Defendants moved to dismiss the complaint. ECF No. 9.
On July 14, 2014, Garry amended his complaint, reducing to $74, 000 his claim for compensatory damages, while still seeking unspecified punitive damages, and attorney's fees and costs. ECF No. 11 at 7. On July 14, 2014, Garry moved to remand the suit to state court. ECF No. 12. On July 16, 2014, the Defendants opposed that motion. ECF No. 14. That same day, the Defendants moved to dismiss the amended complaint. ECF No. 13. On August 4, 2014, Garry's response to the motion to dismiss was due. To date, Garry has not filed a response.
A. Motion to Remand
1. Legal Standard
"[A]ny 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." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) (2012). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 (a) (1) (2012), "[t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between... citizens of different States."
It is well settled that federal jurisdiction is "fixed at the time the... notice of removal is filed." Dennison v. Carolina Payday Loans, Inc., 549 F.3d 941, 943 (4th Cir.2008). If, at that time, the parties are citizens of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, the Court has jurisdiction on the basis of diversity - "regardless of later changes in... the amount in controversy." Porsche Cars N. Am., Inc. v. Porsche.net, 302 F.3d 248, 255-56 (4th Cir. 2002); see also Pinney v. ...