United States District Court, D. Maryland
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
W. TITUS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
April 14, 2016, Plaintiff Michael Augustine filed a Complaint
in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County,
Maryland, alleging personal injury from an automobile
accident. ECF No. 2. He claimed that Defendant Donald G.
Shooter was driving a truck for Defendant Double R.
Transport, and turned his truck into the lane of the vehicle
in which Plaintiff was riding as a passenger. Id.
Plaintiff's vehicle was being driven by Kevin Green.
Plaintiff then filed an Amended Complaint, ECF No. 4, and on
July 1, 2016, Defendants filed a Third-Party Complaint
against Kevin Green, alleging that the accident was caused by
his negligence in failing to control his vehicle and avoid an
accident with the tractor-trailer driven by Defendant
Shooter. ECF No. 5.
September 14, 2016, Third-Party Defendant Green removed the
case to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1367,
1441, and 1446. ECF No. 1. He invoked the supplemental
jurisdiction of this Court on the grounds that he had filed
his own lawsuit based on the same automobile accident in the
United States District Court for the District of Maryland,
Green v. Shooter and Double R. Transport, Inc.,
16-cv-01605-RWT, and this case involves the same or similar
factual issues concerning liability and damages. ECF No. 1 at
2. Because this Court finds that Third-Party Defendant's
removal was improper, it lacks jurisdiction over this action.
Therefore, Third-Party Defendant's Motion to Consolidate
[ECF No. 14] will be denied and the case will be remanded to
the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland.
Rule of Civil Procedure 42 allows a court to consolidate
actions before it that “involve a common question of
law or fact.” District courts have “broad
discretion in deciding whether to consolidate cases pending
in the same district.” Hicks v. Grove, No.
12-cv-1422-ELH, 13-cv-2592-ELH, 2014 WL 768685, at *1 (D. Md.
Feb. 25, 2014).
Defendant Green brought this Motion to Consolidate after
removing the case from the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County to this Court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)
provides that “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 or
defendants, 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. § 1446 provides the
procedures for removal of such actions over which the
district court has original jurisdiction.
Defendant Green invoked supplemental jurisdiction as his
basis for removal, as he is the Plaintiff in an action
currently before this Court involving the same automobile
accident. The supplemental jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367, provides that, in “any civil action of
which the district court has original jurisdiction, the
district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all
other claims that are so related to claims in the action
within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the
same case or controversy under Article III of the United
This Court Lacks Jurisdiction Because Third-Party Defendant
Green's Removal Was Improper.
well established that federal courts are “courts of
limited jurisdiction” and “possess only that
power authorized by Constitution and statute.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545
U.S. 546, 552 (2005). They “have an independent
obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even when no party challenges it.” Hertz
Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010). Third-Party
Defendant Green's removal to this Court was improper both
because he is a third-party defendant and because
supplemental jurisdiction is not a source of original
jurisdiction that supports removal. As a result, this Court
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the action and the
case must be remanded to the Circuit Court for Prince
removal statutes “‘must be strictly construed,
inasmuch as the removal of cases from state to federal court
raises significant federalism concerns.'” Cohn
v. Charles, 857 F.Supp.2d 544, 547 (D. Md. 2012)
(quoting Barbour v. Int'l Union, 640 F.3d 599,
605 (4th Cir. 2011)). Doubts about whether removal was proper
“are to be resolved in favor of remanding the case to
state court.” Id. The Supreme Court held in
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 106-07 (1941), that a counter-claim defendant may not
remove an action to federal district court, strictly
construing the removal statute and explaining that Congress
specifically amended the statute from allowing “either
party” to remove to conferring the power only on
“defendant or defendants.” And as the Fourth
Circuit has explained, for “more than fifty years,
courts applying Shamrock Oil have consistently
refused to grant removal power under § 1441(a) to
third-party defendants.” Palisades Collections LLC
v. Shorts, 552 F.3d 327, 332-33 (4th Cir. 2008)
(collecting cases); see also Cohn, 857 F.Supp.2d at
547 (“Only a defendant to an action-neither a
counter-defendant nor a third-party defendant-may remove
cases under § 1441(a).”). As a third-party
defendant, Green does not have the power to remove this
action to federal court. This Court therefore lacks
jurisdiction and the case must be remanded to the Circuit
Court for Prince George's County.
even if Green did have the right to remove this action as a
third-party defendant, § 1441(a) requires that the
district court have original jurisdiction over the action in
order for removal to be proper. This case raises no federal
question, and diversity is lacking as both Plaintiff
Augustine and Third-Party Defendant Green are residents of
Maryland and the amount in controversy in the Amended
Complaint is only $52, 000. Instead, Third-Party Defendant
Green relies on supplemental jurisdiction as a basis for
removal. But this Court has made clear that supplemental
jurisdiction is not a source of original subject-matter
jurisdiction, and a “notice of removal may therefore
not base subject-matter jurisdiction on supplemental
jurisdiction, even if the action the defendant seeks to
remove on that basis is related to another action over which
the federal district court has subject-matter jurisdiction,
and even if removal would be efficient.” Carpenter
v. Brentwood BWI One, LLC, No. 15-cv-01431-ELH, 2015 WL
3464340, at *3 (D. Md. May 29, 2015) (internal citation and
quotation marks omitted).
other words, “supplemental jurisdiction does not create
an independent basis for removal to federal court.”
Id. (citing Syngenta Crop Prot., Inc. v.
Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 34 (2002)); see also Briddelle
v. T & J Foods, Inc., 18 F.Supp.2d 611, 612 (D. Md.
1998) (finding that removal based only on supplemental
jurisdiction was improper when the case involved neither
diversity of citizenship nor a federal question); Vick v.
Nash Hospitals, Inc., 756 F.Supp.2d 690, 693 (E.D. N.C.
2010) (“An already-existing federal action cannot
provide the mechanism for removal of a non-removable
state-court action, even if such a removal would be an
efficient result.”) (internal citations and quotation
marks omitted). Even though the two actions sought to be
consolidated arise out of the same event, considerations of
efficiency are insufficient to confer jurisdiction on this
Third-Party Defendant Green's removal was improper, this
Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over the action. It
therefore cannot be consolidated with Green v. Shooter,
et al., No. 16-cv-01605-RWT, and ...