United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar United States District Judge.
7, 2016, Cherice Harris (“Harris”), who is
self-represented, filed notice to remove case number
20161001000007636, Gables Residential/Island Club v.
Cherice Harris and All Others, from the District Court
for Howard County, Maryland. (ECF No. 1). On June 22, 2016,
Gables Residential Services, Inc. (“Gables”)
filed a Motion to Remand the case. (ECF No. 5). Harris also
filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF
No. 3), which will be granted based on information provided
in her financial statement. Id.
avers this court has jurisdiction over this case on the basis
of federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1441(b), and supplemental jurisdiction
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 2,
provides the following information in the Motion to Remand.
(ECF No. 5). Gables manages “Island Club, ” a
residential apartment complex in Columbia, Maryland. Harris
moved into the apartment complex in April of 2016, renting
premises located at 5357 Columbia Road, #C, Columbia, MD,
21044. Harris’s security check bounced and she failed
to pay rent for either April or May of 2016. ECF No. 5.
about May 17, 2016, Gables filed a complaint against Harris
in the District Court for possession of the premises and
sought a monetary judgment against Harris. Harris did not
file an answer or counterclaim, but appeared at trial before
the District Court on June 3, 2016. At trial, Harris
consented to the District Court’s entry of judgment for
possession as well as to a money judgment for the April and
May 2016 rent. (ECF No. 5).
28 U.S.C § 1441(a), “a 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
or the defendants.” The burden of demonstrating
jurisdiction, and the propriety of removal, rests with the
removing party. Dixon v. Coburg Dairy, Inc., 369
F.3d 811, 815 (4th Cir. 2004). “[F]ederal courts are
courts of limited jurisdiction, [and] should construe removal
statutes narrowly, [with] any doubts ... resolved in favor of
state court jurisdiction.” Barbour v. Int'l
Union, 640 F.3d 599, 617 (4th Cir. 2011) (en banc)
abrogated in part on other grounds by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1446(b)(2)(B). “[B]efore a federal court can
decide the merits of a claim, the claim must invoke the
jurisdiction of the court.” Miller v. Brown,
462 F.3d 312, 316 (4th Cir. 2006). “Because removal
jurisdiction raises significant federalism concerns, [courts]
must strictly construe removal jurisdiction.”
Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d
148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas
Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941)); see
also Cohn v. Charles, 857 F.Supp.2d 544, 547 (D. Md.
2012) (“Doubts about the propriety of removal are to be
resolved in favor of remanding the case to state
Notice of Removal generally states there is federal question
jurisdiction here because “certain rights provided by
the United States Constitution” were violated and she
is raising a federal claim pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983.
(ECF 1 ¶ 2). Harris, however, provides no grounds to
assert a federal claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Gables
argues no federal claim was raised in the state rent action.
(ECF No. 5).
the party invoking removal jurisdiction, bears the burden of
showing removal is proper. Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151
(“The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is
placed upon the party seeking removal.”). “If
federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is
necessary.” Id. “[A] claim of federal
question jurisdiction is to be resolved on the basis of the
allegations of the complaint itself.” Burgess v.
Charlottesville Sav. and Loan Assoc., 477 F.2d 40, 43
(4th Cir. 1973). Therefore, a complaint must contain
allegations affirmatively and distinctly establishing federal
grounds not in mere form, but in substance and not in mere
assertion, but in essence and effect. Id. (citing
Cuyahoga Co. v. Northern Ohio Co., 252 U.S. 388, 397
(1920)). “[T]he mere assertion in a pleading that the
case is one involving the construction or application of the
federal laws does not authorize the District Court to
entertain the suit.” Burgess, 477 F.2d at 42
(citing Malone v. Gardner, 62 F.2d 15, 18 (4th Cir.
1932)). Nor can removal jurisdiction be based on the
court’s supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367. See Briddelle v. T & J Foods, Inc.,
18 F.Supp.2d 611, 612 (D. Md. 1998); 14B Wright, Miller &
Cooper, Federal Practice & Procedure:
Jurisdiction § 3722 (4th Ed.).
case, the original complaint contains no allegations
establishing federal jurisdiction under either
federal-question or diversity jurisdiction statutes, 28
U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, and Harris’s
allegations in the notice of removal are insufficient to show
that the case is one “arising under the Constitution,
laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1331. In the absence of grounds for federal
jurisdiction as to Plaintiff’s case, the court has no
basis for exercising supplemental jurisdiction over any
claims raised by Harris.
extent Harris seeks to appeal the state court judgment, her
recourse is in the state courts. “Under the
Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a ‘party losing in state court
is barred from seeking what in substance would be appellate
review of the state judgment in a United States district
court.’” Smalley v. Shapiro & Burson,
LLP, 526 F. App’x 231, 235 (4th Cir. 2013)
(unpublished) (quoting Johnson v. De Grandy, 512
U.S. 997, 1005-06 (1994)). Because Harris is effectively
requesting this Court to review the state court’s
judgments, the court finds this action is barred by the
the court will grant the Motion to Remand. A ...