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Norair Engineering Corp. v. URS Federal Services, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 14, 2016

NORAIR ENGINEERING CORP., Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant,
v.
URS FEDERAL SERVICES, INC., Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff/counter-defendant Norair Engineering Corp. (“Norair”) has filed this action against defendant/counter-plaintiff URS Federal Services, Inc. (“URS”) alleging that URS breached the parties' contract by failing to pay Norair over $2.3 million for construction services performed by Norair at Fort George G. Meade (“Ft. Meade”), located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. (ECF No. 2 at ¶ 1.) Norair originally filed its Complaint in the Circuit Court for Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and URS removed the case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, asserting that Norair's work was performed on a federal enclave. (ECF No 1 at ¶ 4.)

         Currently pending are Norair's Motion to Remand (“Norair's Motion”) (ECF No. 15) and URS's Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim (“URS's Motion”) (ECF No. 8). The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the reasons stated below, Norair's Motion is DENIED, and URS's Motion is GRANTED IN PART and DENIED IN PART; specifically, it is GRANTED as to the unjust enrichment claim (Count III) and DENIED as to the breach of contract claims (Counts I and II).

         BACKGROUND

         Defendant URS was awarded a federal government contract by the United States Government for the construction of power and cooling system services at Ft. Meade. (ECF No. 2 at ¶¶ 8-9.) On September 23, 2013, URS subcontracted with Norair for the replacement of an existing Cooling Tower located on Ft. Meade. (Id. at ¶¶ 10-11.) Norair alleges that URS unilaterally modified the construction subcontract on multiple occasions, thereby causing delays in the completion of the project, depriving Norair of its expected profits under the subcontract, and resulting in significant monetary damages to Norair. (Id. at ¶¶ 12-17.) Norair alleges that it fully performed its work under the subcontract, and now seeks over $2.38 million in damages from URS. (Id. at ¶¶ 18-21.) URS has filed a counterclaim alleging that Norair failed to complete its work on the Ft. Meade project in the manner required by the subcontract and seeks to recover all costs associated with Norair's alleged breach. (ECF No. 9 at ¶¶ 11-17.)

         STANDARDS OF REVIEW

         I. Motion to Remand

         A defendant in a state civil action may remove the case to federal court only if the federal court can exercise original jurisdiction over at least one of the asserted claims. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)-(c). Once an action is removed to federal court, the plaintiff may file a motion to remand the case to state court if there is a contention that jurisdiction is defective. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The party seeking removal, and not the party seeking remand, bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction in the federal court. Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chemicals Co., Inc., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing Wilson v. Republic Iron & Steel Co., 257 U.S. 92 (1921)). Federal courts are obliged to carefully scrutinize challenges to jurisdictional authority, and must “do more than simply point jurisdictional traffic in the direction of state courts.” 17th Street Associates, LLP v. Markel Int'l Ins. Co. Ltd., 373 F.Supp.2d 584, 592 (E.D. Va. 2005). On a motion to remand, this Court must “strictly construe the removal statute and resolve all doubts in favor of remanding the case to state court.” Richardson v. Phillip Morris, Inc., 950 F.Supp. 700, 701-02 (D. Md. 1997) (citation omitted). “If federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is necessary.” Mulcahy, 29 F.3d at 151; see also Dixon v. Coburg Dairy, Inc., 369 F.3d 811, 815-16 (4th Cir. 2004).

         II. Motion to Dismiss

         Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. The purpose of Rule 12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of a complaint and not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Presley v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir. 2006).

         The Supreme Court's opinions in Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009) have articulated “[t]wo working principles” that courts must employ when ruling on Rule 12(b)(6) motions to dismiss. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. First, while a court must accept as true all the factual allegations contained in the complaint, legal conclusions drawn from those facts are not afforded such deference. Id. (stating that “[t]hreadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice” to plead a claim). Second, a complaint must be dismissed if it does not allege “a plausible claim for relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679. Although a “plaintiff need not plead the evidentiary standard for proving” her claim, she may no longer rely on the mere possibility that she could later establish her claim. McCleary-Evans v. Maryland Department of Transportation, State Highway Administration, 780 F.3d 582, 586 (4th Cir. 2015) (emphasis omitted). Under the plausibility standard, a complaint must contain “more than labels and conclusions” or a “formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

         ANALYSIS

         I. Motion to Remand

         Norair argues in support of its Motion to Remand that URS “must do more than merely allege that Fort Meade is a federal enclave to establish jurisdiction prima facie. It must prove that the area on which the work giving rise to this cause of action was performed on part of the federal enclave under exclusive federal jurisdiction.” (ECF No. 15-1 at 3.) Citing Baltimore Gas & Elec. Co. v. United States, 133 F.Supp.2d 721, 742 (D. Md. 2001), Norair notes that parts of Fort Meade have been ceded back to the State of Maryland, and are thus outside of this Court's original jurisdiction. (Id.) Norair thus argues that because URS ...


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