United States District Court, D. Maryland
ROBERT E. FRAZIER, et al . Plaintiffs,
CLINT A. MCLEAN, et al . Defendants.
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
April 3, 2017, defendant Chevera D. Brown, a resident of
Baltimore, Maryland, removed a civil foreclosure proceeding
from the Circuit Court for Baltimore County, Maryland to this
court. (ECF Nos. 1 & 3-7.) Upon review of the materials, the
court will remand the case to the Circuit Court for Baltimore
review of the attached state court dockets shows that
plaintiffs filed this foreclosure proceeding against Clint A.
McLean and Chevera D. Brown in the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City on April 8, 2016,  and the matter was
transferred to the Circuit Court for Baltimore County on
November 29, 2016. The dockets further reveal that
Brown's requests for foreclosure mediation, a hearing,
and dismissal of the case remain pending. See Yacko, et
al. v. McLean, et al., Case No. 03C16011887 (copy
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove “any
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction . . .
to the district court of the United States for the district
and division embracing the place where such action is
pending.” Brown asserts that the court has original
jurisdiction here pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which
authorizes the federal district courts to exercise
jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.” Generally, a defendant must file a notice
of removal within 30 days of service of the initial pleading.
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(B). Here, removal occurred
approximately one year after the action was initiated in
state court. In any case, remand is appropriate because
the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction.
U.S.C. § 1447(c) provides:
If at any time before final judgment it appears that the
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case
shall be remanded. An order remanding the case may require
payment of just costs and any actual expenses, including
attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal. A
certified copy of the order of remand shall be mailed by the
clerk to the clerk of the State court. The State court may
thereupon proceed with such case.
burden of demonstrating jurisdiction and propriety of removal
rests with the removing party. Dixon v. Coburg Dairy,
Inc., 369 F.3d 811, 816 (4th Cir. 2004) (en banc);
see also McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408
(4th Cir. 2010); Robb Evans & Assocs., LLC v.
Holibaugh, 609 F.3d 359, 362 (4th Cir. 2010). Thus,
“[i]f a plaintiff files suit in state court and the
defendant seeks to adjudicate the matter in federal court
through removal, it is the defendant who carries the burden
of alleging in his notice of removal and, if challenged,
demonstrating the court's jurisdiction over the
matter.” Strawn v. AT&T Mobility LLC, 530
F.3d 293, 296 (4th Cir. 2008).
removal jurisdiction raises significant federalism concerns,
[courts] must strictly construe removal jurisdiction.”
Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co.,
Inc., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (citing
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100
(1941)). Indeed, a federal court “should construe
removal statutes narrowly[, with] doubts concerning removal .
. . resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction.”
Barbour v. Int'l Union, 640 F.3d 599, 617 (4th
Cir. 2011) (en banc), abrogated on other grounds by
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(B); 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
court.”). And, of import here, a federal court has
“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); see also Sucampo Pharmaceuticals,
Inc. v. Astellas Pharma, Inc., 471 F.3d 544, 548 (4th
presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is
governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule, '
which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a
federal question is presented on the face of the
plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Rivet
v. Regions Bank of La., 522 U.S. 470, 475 (1998)
(quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386,
392 (1987)). It is a hornbook principle of federal
jurisdiction that “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.” See Herman
v. Lincoln Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 842 F.Supp.2d 851,
853 (D. Md. 2012) (citing 14 C. Wright & A. Miller,
Federal Practice and Procedure § 3722, at 557).
suit filed in state court concerned a foreclosure matter.
There was no federal question presented on the face of the
complaint, and Brown may not create federal jurisdiction by
making generalized statements regarding alleged
constitutional rights violations involved in the foreclosure
process. (See ECF No. 1.) The federal district
courts have no original jurisdiction over such foreclosure
Brown has failed to show that she is unable to enforce any
federal rights in state court. A party to a state court
proceeding is able to raise arguments regarding applicable
federal law. “Under our system of dual sovereignty, . .
. state courts have inherent authority, and are thus
presumptively competent, to adjudicate claims arising under
the laws of the United States.” Bullock v.
Napolitano, 666 F.3d 281, 285 (4th Cir. 2012) (quoting
Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v. Donnelly, 494 U.S. 820,
823 (1990)) (emphasis omitted). In addition, Maryland law
provides for appellate review of decisions of a Maryland
circuit court. See Md. Code, Courts and Judicial
Proceedings Art. § 12-301.
the case will be remanded. A separate Order follows.