United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
LAURA H.G. O’SULLIVAN, et al. Plaintiffs,
ALPHONSO WALKER, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. Grimm United States District Judge
Laura H.G. O’Sullivan, Deborah K. Curran, Erin M.
Brady, Diana C. Theologou, Laura L. Latta, Jonathan Elefant,
and Chastity Brown, as Substitute Trustees, initiated a
foreclosure action against Defendants Alphonso Walker and
Novella L. Walker in the Circuit Court for Prince
George’s County, Maryland with regard to the property
at 2404 Amherst Road, Hyattsville, MD 20783. Order to Docket,
ECF No. 2. Defendants, who are proceeding pro se,
removed to this Court, and I must determine whether this
Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this foreclosure
proceeding or whether it should be remanded to state court,
as Plaintiffs request. Plaintiffs did not raise any federal
questions in the state court proceedings against Defendants,
and the filings, factually sparse as they are, suggest that
Defendants, if not all parties, are Maryland residents.
See Civ. Cover Sheet, ECF No. 1-1. Moreover,
contrary to Defendants’ assertion, the United States is
not named as a defendant. See Id. I conclude that
this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, and I remand
district courts "have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States, " pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331,
as well those "where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and is between-(1) citizens of different States,
" pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Federal district
courts also have jurisdiction when the United States
Government is named as a defendant. 28 U.S.C. §
1346(a)(2). When a plaintiff files such an action in state
court, the action "may be removed by the defendant . . .
to the district court of the United States for the district
and division embracing the place where such action is
pending." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). However, "[i]f
at any time before final judgment it appears that the
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case
shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
contend that this Court has jurisdiction because the United
States Government is a defendant. Civ. Cover Sheet. Yet, the
United States is not a party to this case. See Order
to Docket; State Ct. Docket. Additionally, Plaintiffs do not
raise any federal question. See Order to Docket.
Defendants state on their Civil Cover Sheet that the cause of
action involves "claims against property and franchise
of the federal gov[ernment] thru state court." Civ.
Cover Sheet. But, it is evident from the Order to Docket and
the state court docket that, as Plaintiffs assert, the case
"is an in rem action in Prince George’s
County, Maryland, utilizinfg the laws of Maryland Real
Property … ." Pls.’ Ltr. 1, ECF No. 63;
see Order to Docket; State Ct. Docket. Even if
Defendants had properly pleaded a counterclaim that a federal
law was violated, it would not give rise to federal question
jurisdiction, because "‘the federal question must
be presented by plaintiff’s complaint as it stands at
the time the petition for removal is filed ... It is
insufficient that a federal question has been raised as a
matter of defense or as a counterclaim.’"
Herman v. Lincoln Nat’l Life Ins. Co., 842
F.Supp.2d 851, 853 (D. Md. 2012) (quoting Metro Ford
Truck Sales, Inc. v. Ford Motor Co., 145 F.3d 320,
326-27 (5th Cir. 1998) (citing 14 C. Wright & A. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 3722, at 557)).
Therefore, this Court does not have federal question
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
does this Court have diversity jurisdiction. In their Civil
Cover Sheet, Defendants identify themselves as Prince
George’s County residents. Therefore, even if none of
the Plaintiffs are Maryland citizens, it is undisputed that
Defendants are Maryland citizens and Plaintiffs brought this
case in Maryland. "A civil action otherwise removable
solely on the basis of the jurisdiction under section 1332(a)
. . . may not be removed if any of the parties in interest
properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the
State in which such action is brought." 28 U.S.C. §
put, this is an in rem foreclosure action concerning
Maryland real property brought against Maryland residents,
and no basis exists for federal question or diversity
jurisdiction. Further, the United States is not a party to
the action. Because this Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, I will remand this case to the Circuit Court
for Prince George’s County. See 28 U.S.C.
it is, this 9th day of June, 2016,
hereby ORDERED that the Clerk IS DIRECTED to remand this case
to the Circuit Court for Prince George’s County,
Maryland, and to close this case.
 Plaintiffs filed a Notice of Intent to
File Motion to Remand, ECF No. 63.
 I take judicial notice of the state
court docket on the Maryland Judiciary Case Search website.