United States District Court, D. Maryland
ALLEN RANSOM, JR. and BRENDA B. RANSOM, Plaintiffs,
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC and EQUIHOME MORTGAGE CORP., Defendants.
SUPPLEMENTAL MEMORANDUM OPINION
Xinis United States District Judge
case was before the Court after Defendant Nationstar had
removed the matter from the Circuit Court for Charles County,
Maryland based on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. ECF No. 1. Nationstar then filed a motion to
dismiss arguing, inter alia, that the case should be
dismissed with prejudice under the Rooker-Feldman
doctrine. See ECF No. 29-1. “The
Rooker-Feldman doctrine is a jurisdictional rule
providing that lower federal courts generally cannot review
state court decisions.” Holliday Amusement Co. of
Charleston v. State of S. Carolina, 401 F.3d 534, 537
(4th Cir. 2005).
September 20, 2016, the Court issued a Memorandum Opinion and
Order granting Defendant Nationstar's motion to dismiss
pursuant to 12(b)(1) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure
because the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under
the Rooker-Feldman doctrine. ECF Nos. 42 & 43.
It denied Nationstar's motion as moot to the extent it
sought relief under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a), 12(b)(5), and
12(b)(6). The Court also dismissed the Complaint with respect
to EquiHome Mortgage for the same reasons. Additionally,
Plaintiffs' motion to compel, ECF No. 32, was denied as
November 30, 2016, the Court issued a letter order informing
the parties that because the Defendant had originally removed
the case based on diversity of citizenship, the case should
have been remanded to the Circuit Court of Charles County
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447 for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction rather than dismissed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1). ECF No. 44. The Court informed the parties that it
intended to amend its September 20th Order on its own motion
pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b) and remand the case to the
Circuit Court for Charles County for further proceedings. The
Court provided the parties twenty-one (21) days from the
issuance of the letter order to furnish the Court with their
position on the Court's intended action. The parties were
further notified that the Court would construe silence as
acceptance of the Court's anticipated action. Neither
60(b) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure confers on the
Court authority to correct its own mistakes in certain
circumstances. The Rule states in pertinent part:
On motion and just terms, the court may relieve a party or
its legal representative from a final judgment, order, or
proceeding for the following reasons: (1) mistake,
inadvertence, surprise or excusable neglect . . . .
the language of Rule 60(b) speaks of granting relief
“on motion, ” it is silent on whether the motion
must be made by a party or whether the court can act sua
sponte. While Rule 60(a) states that relief may be
granted by the court “on motion or on its own, ”
Rule 60(b) uses entirely unqualified language and states only
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit is one
of many jurisdictions to hold that Rule 60(b)'s “on
motion” language does not necessarily “depriv[e]
the court of the power to act in the interest of justice in
an unusual case in which its attention has been directed to
the necessity for relief by means other than a motion.”
United States v. Jacobs, 298 F.2d 469, 472 (4th Cir.
1961); accord Kingvision Pay-Per-View Ltd. v. Lake Alice
Bar, 168 F.3d 347, 351 (9th Cir. 1999); McDowell v.
Celbrezze, 310 F.2d 43 (5th Cir. 1962); Simer v.
Rios, 661 F.2d 655, 663 n.18 (7th Cir. 1981) (Rule 60(b)
invests a district court with authority to vacate a judgment
sua sponte); International Controls Corp. v.
Vesco, 556 F.2d 665, 668 n.2 (2d Cir. 1977) (district
courts may sua sponte cure errors pursuant to Rule
60(b)(6)). Thus, with notice to the parties, the court may
amend a prior order pursuant to Rule 60(b) sua
sponte if justice dictates. See Fort Knox Music Inc.
v. Baptiste, 257 F.3d 108, 111 (2d Cir. 2001)
(“While normally such relief is sought by motion of a
party, see Fed.R.Civ.P. 60(b), nothing forbids the court to
grant such relief sua sponte.”); see also
Patton v. Maryland, No. AW-08-1820, 2013 WL 1209466, at
*4 (D. Md. Mar. 22, 2013).
case is appropriate for sua sponte relief from the
prior court order. The Court had initially dismissed
Plaintiffs' action pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). 28
U.S.C. § 1447, however, compels remand. Section 1447(c)
states, “If at any time before final judgment it
appears that the district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”
(emphasis added). The plain language of § 1447(c) gives
“no discretion to dismiss rather than remand an
action” removed from state court over which the court
lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. International Primate
Protection League v. Administrators of Tulane Educational
Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 89 (1991) (internal quotation marks
omitted.). “Thus, mandatory language in the federal
removal statute gives no discretion to this court to
dismiss.” Lowery v. Prince George's Cty.,
Md., 960 F.Supp. 952, 957 (D. Md. 1997).
dismissing the action, the Court deprived Plaintiffs of the
opportunity to have the proper court review the case on its
merits. More importantly, the Plaintiffs here appeared
pro se. It is unlikely, therefore, that Plaintiffs
would have recognized this procedural issue in time to file a
motion to remand, move to alter or vacate this Court's
judgment pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 59 or 60, or note an
appeal. Accordingly, the interests of justice are best served
by vacating the ...