United States District Court, D. Maryland
LIPTON HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
plaintiff Shawn Jefferson filed suit against Westlake
Financial Services, LLC, d/b/a Westlake Financial Services
(“Westlake”). ECF 1 (Complaint). It appears from
the Complaint and from documents attached as exhibits that
plaintiff obtained a car loan that was subsequently acquired
by Westlake. See ECF 1-1 at 7. Plaintiff alleges
“illegal repossession of [plaintiff's] vehicle,
” and asserts that defendant “charg[ed] more than
[the] maximum rate of interest allowed” in Maryland.
ECF 1-1 at 1 (Statement of Claim). Plaintiff seeks to
“have the loan removed from [his] credit report,
” as well as $150, 000 in damages. ECF 1 at 7.
importance here, plaintiff alleges federal question
jurisdiction in his Complaint, but cites no federal statute
in support of this allegation. Id. at 4. Instead,
plaintiff cites two United States Supreme Court cases from
the late nineteenth century, United States v.
Sayward, 160 U.S. 493 (1895), and Fishback et al. v.
Western Union Tel. Co., 161 U.S. 96 (1896).
has moved to dismiss the Complaint under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(1), for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. ECF 10.
Westlake has also moved to dismiss under Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(b)(6), for failure to state a claim. Id. The
motion to dismiss is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF
10-1 (collectively, “Motion”). The Clerk sent a
Rule 12/56 notice to plaintiff on January 12, 2018, advising
plaintiff of his right to respond within 17 days, and that
failure to respond might result in dismissal of the case. ECF
11. Plaintiff did not respond to the Motion.
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. Because plaintiff has not adequately
alleged the existence of subject matter jurisdiction, I shall
grant the Motion, without prejudice.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Civ. P. 12(b)(1) governs motions to dismiss for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See Khoury v. Meserve,
628 F.Supp.2d 600, 606 (D. Md. 2003), aff'd, 85
F. App'x 960 (4th Cir. 2004). Under Rule 12(b)(1), the
plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of
evidence, the existence of subject matter jurisdiction.
See Demetres v. East West Const, Inc., 776 F.3d 271,
272 (4th Cir. 2015); see also Evans v. B.F. Perkins
Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). A challenge to
subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may proceed
“in one of two ways”: either a facial challenge,
asserting that the allegations pleaded in the complaint are
insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a
factual challenge, asserting “‘that the
jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not
true.'” Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d
187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted) (alteration in
original); see also Beck v. McDonald, 848 F.3d 262,
270 (4th Cir. 2017).
facial challenge, “the facts alleged in the complaint
are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the
complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter
jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192;
accord Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc. v. Mayor & City
Council of Baltimore, 22 F.Supp.3d 519, 524 (D.
Md. 2014). In a factual challenge, on the other hand,
“the district court is entitled to decide disputed
issues of fact with respect to subject matter
jurisdiction.” Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In that
circumstance, the court “may regard the pleadings as
mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside
the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for
summary judgment.” Velasco v. Gov't of
Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); see
also Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v.
United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991).
raises a facial challenge to the Court's subject matter
jurisdiction, based on the four corners of the Complaint.
Civ. P. 8(a)(1) requires that a claim for relief include
“a short and plain statement of the grounds for the
court's jurisdiction.” Plaintiffs civil complaint
form contains a section concerning the basis of jurisdiction
for the suit. ECF 1 at 4. Two check-boxes are presented, for
“Federal question” and “Diversity of
citizenship.” Id. Plaintiff was directed to
“check all that apply.” Id. Notably, he
checked only the box for federal question jurisdiction.
Id. When prompted to “[l]ist the specific
federal statutes, federal treaties, and/or provisions of the
United States Constitution that are at issue in this
case” (id), plaintiff listed two Supreme Court
cases. Those cases, United States v. Sayward, 160
U.S. 493 (1895), and Fishback et al. v. Western Union
Tel. Co., 161 U.S. 96 (1896), discuss, inter
alia, the amount-in-controversy requirement for
diversity jurisdiction. It is unclear how they are relevant
to this case. In any event, the cases are insufficient to
confer federal question jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
defendant points out (ECF 10-1 at 3), under 28 U.S.C. §
1331, federal district courts have “original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
Of import here, “‘[t]he 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) (citation omitted).
is no indication in plaintiff's Complaint that his claims
arise under any federal statute, federal treaty, or provision
of the Constitution. Plaintiff mentions a section of the
Virginia code, Va. Code § 6.2-2217, which concerns the
repossession and sale of motor vehicles. See ECF 1-1
at 1. Of course, this state statute does not afford a federal
cause of action. And, plaintiff cites “as
precedent” another case from this Court brought against
Westlake, McDaniels v. Westlake Services, LLC et
al., ELH-11-1837 (“McDaniels”).
See ECF 1-1 at 1. Jurisdiction in McDaniels
was based on diversity as to various claims under Maryland
law. See McDaniels, ECF 1, ¶¶ 1, 21. But,
it was also founded on a federal question because the case
arose, inter alia, under the federal Class Action
Fairness Act of 2005, codified in relevant part at 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(d), and the Fair Debt ...