United States District Court, D. Maryland
XINIS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
first filed their action in this Court on November 27, 2017.
Thereafter, the Court directed Plaintiffs to supplement the
complaint because it did not state a claim as presented. ECF
Nos. 3 & 4. Plaintiffs then filed an Amended Complaint.
ECF No. 5. However, for the reasons that follow, the Amended
Complaint must also be dismissed.
Amended Complaint notes that improprieties occurred in
connection with the transfer of Plaintiffs' mortgage
before the residence at issue was foreclosed upon and sold at
auction in 2014. Plaintiffs assert that PennyMac, the
“debt collector, ” was not a licensed lender in
the State of Maryland. ECF No. 5 at pp. 4, 8. Plaintiffs'
remaining claims allege that foreclosure proceedings were
improper because paperwork indicated a zero loan balance on
the note prior to its transfer to PennyMac; that the judge
presiding over the foreclosure proceeding was conflicted and
did not recuse herself; and more generally that provisions of
Maryland State law were violated. Plaintiffs seek damages in
the amount of the note secured by their home; joint and
several liability “for wrongful foreclosure and
transfer of Deed;” and “treble damages pursuant
to Section (c) of Md. Real Property Code Ann.
§7-320.” ECF No. 5 at p. 18.
courts are of limited jurisdiction, and so “may not
exercise jurisdiction absent a statutory basis.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545
U.S. 546, 552 (2005). Federal courts likewise are obligated
“to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even when no party challenges it.” Hertz
Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010). Under the
“well-pleaded complaint” rule, the facts showing
the existence of subject matter jurisdiction “must be
affirmatively alleged in the complaint.” Pinkley,
Inc. v. City of Frederick, 191 F.3d 394, 399 (4th
Cir.1999) (citing McNutt v. Gen'l Motors Acceptance
Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 56 S.Ct. 780, 80 L.Ed. 1135
(1936)). “A court is to presume, therefore, that a case
lies outside its limited jurisdiction unless and until
jurisdiction has been shown to be proper.” United
States v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 274 (4th Cir.2008)
(citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S.
375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994)). Moreover,
the “burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction
is on . . . the party asserting jurisdiction.” Robb
Evans & Assocs., LLC v. Holibaugh, 609 F.3d 359, 362
(4th Cir.2010); accord Hertz, 599 U.S. at 96;
McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th
federal question jurisdiction nor diversity jurisdiction is
established in the Amended Complaint. Under Rule 8(a) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a pleading which sets forth
a claim for relief shall include “(1) a short and plain
statement of the grounds for the court's jurisdiction,
unless the court already has jurisdiction and the claim needs
no new jurisdictional support (2) a short and plain statement
of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief,
and (3) a demand for the relief sought. . . . ” Rule
8(a), Fed.R.Civ.P. Moreover, each “allegation must be
simple, concise, and direct.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(d)(1).
“Threadbare recitals of the elements of a cause of
action, supported by mere statements, do not suffice.”
Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (citing
Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555
(2007)). Although a complaint need not include detailed
allegations, the facts averred must be enough to raise a
right to relief above the speculative level and require
“more than labels and conclusions, ” as
“courts are not bound to accept as true a legal
conclusion couched as a factual allegation.” Bell
Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). The
Complaint must include “enough facts to state a claim
to relief that is plausible on its face.” Id.
only basis asserted for federal question jurisdiction is
reference to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA).
Plaintiffs nakedly assert that the Court retains jurisdiction
over this case pursuant to the FDCPA (15 U.S.C. §1692
et seq.), but nothing in the Amended Complaint
states a claim brought pursuant to that Act. At a minimum, an
FDCPA requires plaintiff to allege plausibly: (1) that
Plaintiffs have “been the object of collection activity
arising from consumer debt, (2) the defendant is a debt
collector as defined by the FDCPA, and (3) the defendant has
engaged in an act or omission prohibited by the FDCPA.”
Stewart v. Bierman, 859 F.Supp.2d 754, 759-60 (D.
Md. 2012). The only reference in the Amended Complaint to the
FDCPA involves defendant PennyMac, which Plaintiffs claim was
not a licensed lender in the State of Maryland, but they do
not connect PennyMac's purported status as an unlicensed
lender to a possible FDCPA claim. Thus, federal question
jurisdiction does not exist.
does diversity jurisdiction exist where, as here, complete
diversity of citizenship among the parties is not present.
“[T]he citizenship of the parties at the time of
commencement of the action determines whether the requisite
diversity exists.” Rowland v. Patterson, 882
F.2d 97, 98 (4th Cir.1989). See also Athena Automotive,
Inc. v. DiGregorio, 166 F.3d 288, 290 (4th
Cir.1999)(“Because diversity jurisdiction depends on
the citizenship status of the parties at the time an action
commences, we must focus our jurisdictional inquiry solely on
that time.”). A corporation is “deemed to be a
citizen of any State by which it has been incorporated and of
the State where it has its principal place of
business.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). A
corporation's principal place of business is the place
where “the corporation's high level officers
direct, control, and coordinate the corporation's
activities[, which is] often metaphorically called . . . the
corporation's ‘nerve center, '” and
“will typically be found at [the] corporation's
headquarters.” Hertz, supra, 130
S.Ct. at 1186; accord Cent. W.Va. Energy Co. v. Mountain
State Carbon, LLC, 636 F.3d 101, 104-07 (4th Cir.2011).
according to the Amended Complaint, Defendant BWW Law Group
is a “professional limited liability company operating
as a law firm in Montgomery County, Maryland.” ECF No.
5 at pp. 4-5. As pleaded, BWW is a citizen of Maryland.
Further, according to the Amended Complaint, plaintiffs are
also Maryland citizens. ECF No. 5 at pp. 1-2. Because
complete diversity among the parties is lacking, the Court ...