United States District Court, D. Maryland
JOSEPHAT MUA, et al. Plaintiffs,
STATE OF MARYLAND, et al. Defendants.
L. Hollander United States District Judge
12, 2016, plaintiffs Josephat Mua and Francoise Vandenplas,
husband and wife who are self-represented, filed suit against
the State of Maryland; California Casualty Indemnity Exchange
(“CCIE”); and Marsden & Seledee, LLC, a law
firm. See ECF 1. Plaintiffs also filed a
“Motion for Ex Parte Emergency Injunctive Relief and
Immediate Hearing.” ECF 2, “Motion.” The
Motion is supported by a Memorandum (ECF 2) and several
exhibits. See ECF 2-3-2-9.
to plaintiffs, defendants have violated the Fair Debt
Collection Practices Act, the Fair Credit Reporting Act, and
Maryland law with respect to events that transpired following
a vehicular accident that occurred in August 2011. ECF 1,
¶ 8. The proverbial “kitchen sink”
Complaint contains numerous causes of action, as follows:
“Violation of Article 40 of the Maryland Declaration of
Rights” (Count I; Count II); Common Law - Abuse (Count
III); Retaliation (Count IV); Conspiracy (Count V);
“Injunction Against Marsden & Seledee; California
Casualty Indemnity Exchange for Unlawful Interference with
the Administration and Enforcement of the Laws of
Maryland” (Count VI); Breach of Duty (Count VII);
Negligence (Count VIII); Discrimination and Unfair
Termination Provisions (Count IX); Improper Termination
Practice (Count X); Violation of Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act and Lack of License in Maryland (Count XI);
“(Legal Malpractice Against Defendants)” (Count
XII); Breach of Fiduciary Duty Against Defendants (Count
XIII); and Fraud (Count XIV). See ECF 1 at 11- 30.
Memorandum resolves only the pending Motion. No hearing is
necessary. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set
forth below, plaintiffs’ Motion shall be denied.
lengthy Complaint is difficult to decipher. According to
plaintiffs, this “matter arises out of a motor vehicle
incident that occurred on August 26th, 2011,
” in which Vandenplas was involved. ECF 1, ¶ 8.
Plaintiffs’ claims seem to arise from an insurance
dispute with CCIE that followed the motor vehicle accident in
2011, and from alleged collection efforts used by Marsden
& Seledee as a result of CCIE’s overpayment of
insurance benefits to plaintiffs. Id. ¶¶
8-21. Plaintiffs contend, inter alia, that CCIE
“chose not to assist the Plaintiffs despite the
obligations to do so according to Maryland law.”
Id. ¶ 21.
particular, it appears that CCIE made two insurance payments
to plaintiffs of $5, 128.83 each, over the course of
approximately three months. Id. ¶¶ 23, 24.
According to plaintiffs, CCIE issued the first check
“without an explanation.” Id. ¶ 23.
And, “[d]ue to the ambiguous purpose of the check, the
Plaintiffs retained the check for 3 months, causing it to
expire.” Id. Then, “[u]pon seeking
counsel with an attorney, the attorney instructed Plaintiff
Mr. Mua to cash the check for the purposes of recovering the
car rental expenses and other incidentals.”
Id. Thereafter, “Plaintiff Josephat Mua
contacted the Defendant California Casualty Indemnity
Exchange concerning the uncashed check and reimbursement of
rental car expenses which totaled more than $1, 000 and the
Plaintiff Mr. Mua was issued a new check for $5, 128.83
without any explanations and assumed it was towards the
rental car expenses and other costs associated with the
incident.” Id. ¶ 24.
subsequently sought reimbursement in an amount equal to one
of the checks it had issued to plaintiffs, claiming that it
was a duplicate payment. Id. ¶¶ 23-33.
Plaintiffs contested the reimbursement and litigation ensued.
electronic search in the Maryland Judiciary Case Search
system yielded numerous results for State cases that involve
the plaintiffs, CCIE, and Marsden & Seledee. See
Maryland Judiciary Case Search Criteria,
Disclaimer.jis (searching by name: Mua, Josephat) (last
visited May 18, 2016). And, in at least two of the State
cases, CCIE is or was represented by Joel Seledee, Esquire,
of the law firm of Marsden & Seledee, LLC. See
Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Case No. 9124D (Closed
April 29, 2016); Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Case
No. 9381D (Filed May 2, 2016).
District Court for Montgomery County, CCIE sued Mua and
Vandenplas to recover the disputed overpayment. Mua and
Vandenplas removed that case to federal court, where it was
assigned to Judge Messitte. See PJM-15-0060; see
also Id. at ECF 35-1 at 2; ECF 40 (both citing the State
action as case number “060200053402014”).
Notably, the underlying facts of the federal case appear
largely the same as those set forth in the case sub
on February 4, 2015, Judge Messitte remanded the case to
State court, finding that it was untimely removed and that,
in any event, Mua and Vandenplas had failed to set forth a
valid basis for subject matter jurisdiction. Id. at
ECF 38 at 2-3; ECF 39; ECF 40. In his Memorandum Opinion
(id. at ECF 38), Judge Messitte noted that there had
already been a trial on the merits in State court, and that
“judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff.”
See Id. at ECF 38 at 2; see also
PJM-15-0060, ECF 35, ¶¶ 5, 6; ECF 35-1 at 2; ECF
35-2. Judge Messitte cited ECF 35-2, which is a
copy of the Judgment in the District Court of Maryland,
entered against both Mua and Vandenplas, jointly and
severally, dated December 10, 2014, in the amount of $5,
128.83, plus costs of $118.
when Mua and Vandenplas removed the State case to federal
court (PJM-15-0060), they filed a notice (id. at ECF
33) indicating that the removed case was related to a pending
federal case that they had initiated, captioned Mua and
Vandenplas v. California Casualty Indemnity Exchange and
Marsden & Seledee, LLC, PJM-14-3810. In that case,
Judge Messitte dismissed the amended complaint (id.
at ECF 30; ECF 31) and the Fourth Circuit affirmed.
Id. at ECF 37; ECF 41. The 2015 case also appears to
have involved largely the same claims asserted in the case
sub judice, as well as the same parties, with the
exception of the addition of the State of Maryland.
now aver, inter alia, that the matter is urgent
because Vandenplas has been subject to illegal wage
garnishment in connection with the contested obligation to
reimburse CCIE. See, e.g., ECF 1 at 9, 11, 13, 27.
Plaintiffs also contend that defendant Marsden & Seledee
was hired by CCIE to collect the outstanding payment.
See, e.g., ECF 1 at 2. Plaintiffs take issue with
the debt collection practices used by Marsden & Seledee.
Id. And, as to the State of Maryland’s
involvement in the suit, plaintiffs allege the following
(id.): “The state of Maryland agents engaged
in white collar crimes in order to advance the illegal scheme
and awarded Defendant CCIE using the violation of the law to
the detriment of the Plaintiffs. Defendant CCIE and Marsden
& Seledee engaged in bribery and interfered with the
Maryland State personnel to advance their illegal agenda in
Maryland in violation of the constitution.”
Motion (ECF 2), plaintiffs ask the Court, inter
alia, to “stop the garnishment of wages of
Francoise Vandenplas . . . and to allow the complaints filed
in this court, the appeal currently pending in Maryland Court
of Appeals [sic] and in the Court of Appeals for U.S [sic]
Fourth Circuit . . . .” Id. at 1-2. The Motion
also appears to expand the scope of alleged misconduct by
defendants (i ...