United States District Court, D. Maryland
The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, Inc.
St. Marks Avenue, LLC, et al.
before the Court are Defendant Stacy Smith's Motion for
Stay of Proceedings (ECF No. 132) and Motion for Leave to
File Second Amended Counterclaim (ECF No. 134). The Motions
are ripe for disposition, and no hearing is necessary. See
Local Rule 105.6 (D.Md. 2016). For the reasons outlined
below, the Court will deny the Motion for Stay, and the Court
will grant in part and deny in part the Motion for
action originally arose from an agreement the Foundation
entered into with Defendant Communities Organized to Improve
Life, Inc. (“COIL”) to develop property located
at 1200 West Baltimore Street, Baltimore, Maryland 21223 (the
“Property”), COIL's principal address, and
COIL's subsequent sale of the Property to St. Marks
Avenue, LLC (“St. Marks”). The Foundation is a
not-for-profit Maryland organization. (2d Am. Countercl.
¶ 2, ECF No. 134-1). Smith is a Baltimore, Maryland
resident. (See, e.g., Resp. Notice Vol. Dism. at 32,
ECF No. 152) (signing her most recent filing with the Court
with an address located in Baltimore, MD).
November 19, 2015, the Foundation sued St. Marks, Spivey
(collectively, the “St. Marks Defendants”), and
Smith alleging claims under the Lanham Act and Maryland law.
(Compl., ECF No. 1). On February 3, 2017, Smith, without her
then-counsel, filed a Counterclaim/Crossclaim against the
Foundation and the St. Marks Defendants alleging various
claims under the U.S. Constitution, the Sherman Anti-Trust
Act, and Maryland law. (Countercl., ECF No. 73). On March 13,
2017, Smith, proceeding pro se, filed an Amended
Counterclaim/Crossclaim against the Foundation and the St.
Marks Defendants alleging claims under Maryland law. (Am.
Countercl., ECF No. 103).
April 21, 2017, the Court dismissed Smith's Amended
Counterclaim/Crossclaim but gave Smith ten days to move for
leave to file a second amended counterclaim/crossclaim. On
May 1, 2017, Smith filed a Motion for Leave to File Second
Amended Counterclaim against the Foundation and the St. Marks
Defendants alleging Civil Conspiracy (Count I), Tortious
Inference (Count II), Abuse of Process (Count III),
Defamation of Character (Count IV), and Intentional and
Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (Count V) under
Maryland law. (2d Am. Countercl., ECF No. 134-1). On May
9, 2017, the Foundation opposed Smith's Motion. (ECF No.
138). Smith did not file a Reply. The Motion remains
unopposed by the St. Marks Defendants.
April 25, 2017, Smith filed a Motion for Stay of Proceedings
seeking a stay of all proceedings in this case. (ECF No.
132). On July 6, 2017, the Foundation filed a Notice of
Voluntary Dismissal of all the Foundation's claims
against the St. Marks Defendants. (ECF No. 149). On July 7,
2017, the Court issued an Order of Dismissal dismissing the
Foundation's claims without prejudice. (ECF No. 150). On
July 11, 2017, the Foundation supplemented its Opposition.
(ECF No. 154).
for Stay of Proceedings
is seeking a stay of all proceedings in this case on the
grounds that her former lawyer, William Sherwood, Esq.,
failed to provide her with her case files in a “clear
cohesive manner.” (Mem. Supp. Mot. Stay Procs. at 1,
ECF No. 132-1). She asserts that she needs additional time to
secure counsel for COIL and herself. Since the filing of the
Motion, Smith has been self-represented and has failed to
secure counsel for COIL. Indeed, as indicated above, the
litigation landscape has changed significantly. The Court
concludes that Smith has had ample opportunity to secure
counsel but has failed to do so. To the extent that Smith
seeks redress against her former counsel, she may seek relief
in an appropriate forum-including the Attorney Grievance
Commission of Maryland. The Court will not, however,
entertain or intervene in a dispute with her former attorney.
Thus, the Court will deny the Motion for Stay of Proceedings.
for Leave to File Second Amended Counterclaim
supplement to the Opposition, the Foundation argues that
because the Court dismissed the Foundation's Lanham Act
claim and because there is no diversity of citizenship
between the Foundation and Smith, the Court should deny
Smith's Motion to the extent Smith brings claims against
the Foundation for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), “[i]f the
court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the
action.” (Emphasis added.) Indeed, “questions of
subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any point during
the proceedings and may (or, more precisely, must) be raised
sua sponte by the court.” Brickwood
Contractors, Inc. v. Datanet Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d
385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004) (emphasis added).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.” Home
Buyers Warranty Corp. v. Hanna, 750 F.3d 427, 432 (4th
Cir. 2014) (quoting Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)). There are three
principal bases for subject-matter jurisdiction in federal
court: (1) federal-question jurisdiction; (2) diversity
jurisdiction; (3) and supplemental jurisdiction. Typically,
federal courts retain jurisdiction over state claims based on
diversity jurisdiction, which exists when there is an amount
in controversy exceeding $75, 000, exclusive of interests and
costs, and complete diversity of citizenship. See 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a) (2012). District courts may also retain
jurisdiction over state claims based on the doctrine of
supplemental jurisdiction. Under this doctrine, when a
district court has original jurisdiction, it will also have
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.”
28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) (2012). District courts have the
discretion to decline exercising supplemental jurisdiction
over a state claim if “the district court has dismissed
all claims over which it has original jurisdiction.” 28
U.S.C. § 1367(c)(3).
the Court originally had jurisdiction over this case based on
federal-question jurisdiction. The Foundation brought a
Lanham Act claim, a claim arising under federal law, against
the St. Marks Defendants. (See Am. Compl. ¶ 37,
ECF No. 57). But the Court dismissed that claim, and the
remainder of the Foundation's claims, without prejudice.
(ECF No. 150). Because the Court “dismissed all claims
over which it has original jurisdiction, ” in order for
the Court to retain jurisdiction over the Second Amended
Counterclaim, either (1) the Court must exercise supplemental
jurisdiction under its discretion, see 28 U.S.C.
§ 1367(c)(3), or (2) the Second Amended Counterclaim
must have an independent basis for jurisdiction.
courts “enjoy wide latitude” in determining
whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under its
discretion. Shanaghan v. Cahill, 58 F.3d 106, 110
(4th Cir. 1995). In exercising their discretion, district
courts consider the following factors: “convenience and
fairness to the parties, the existence of any underlying
issues of federal policy, comity, and considerations of
judicial economy.” Id. (citing
Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350
n.7 (1988)). Considering those factors here, the Court will
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. Judicial
economy would not be served by retaining jurisdiction because
the Court has not had an occasion to analyze Smith's
allegations or the relevant authorities. The Court has only
considered motions to dismiss related to Smith's previous
amended counterclaim, and the Court granted them only because
the first amended counterclaim/crossclaim violated Rule 8.
(See ECF No. 129). What is more, the Court is not
aware of any discovery that has been completed related to
Smith's claims. Finally, there are no ...