United States District Court, D. Maryland
Richard D. Bennett United States District Judge
se Plaintiff Kiemoni Butler (“Plaintiff” or
“Butler”) brings this action against Defendant
Citizens Bank, N.A.,  (“Defendant” or “the
Bank”) alleging violations of the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692,
et seq., the Fair Credit Reporting Act
(“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1681, et
seq., the Truth in Lending Act (“TILA”), 15
U.S.C. § 1601, et seq., and the Maryland
Consumer Debt Collection Act (“MCDCA”), Md. Code
Ann., Com. Law § 14-201, et seq. Currently pending
before this Court are Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (ECF
No. 14) and Defendant's Motion to Dismiss (ECF No.
The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no
hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md.
2016). For the following reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand (ECF No. 14) is DENIED and Defendant's Motion to
Dismiss (ECF No. 16) is GRANTED.
ruling on a motion to dismiss, this Court “accept[s] as
true all well-pleaded facts in a complaint and construe[s]
them in the light most favorable to the plaintiff.”
Wikimedia Found. v. Nat'l Sec. Agency, 857 F.3d
193, 208 (4th Cir. 2017) (citing SD3, LLC v. Black &
Decker (U.S.) Inc., 801 F.3d 412, 422 (4th Cir. 2015)).
Further, as a pro se Plaintiff, this Court has
“liberally construed” Butler's pleadings and
held them to “less stringent standards than formal
pleadings drafted by lawyers.” Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Alley v. Yadkin
County Sheriff Dept., No. 17-1249, 698 Fed.Appx. 141,
2017 WL 4415771 (4th Cir. Oct. 5, 2017).
construing Butler's pleadings, he obtained a mortgage
loan from Defendant Citizens Bank, N.A., doing business as
Citizen One Home Loans. (Compl., ECF No. 2.) He alleges that
on October 29, 2016, he sent Defendant a written dispute of
his alleged outstanding balance on his mortgage loan.
(Id. at ¶ 3.) Subsequently, he also sent a
“Notary Certificate of Dishonor and
Non-Response.” (Id.) Plaintiff alleges that
although Citizens Bank did not validate his debt, the Bank
continued to send him collection notices. (Id. at
¶ 5.) He further asserts that he sent a money order for
$50.00 to the Bank that conspicuously contained the phrase
“Satisfaction of all claims.” (Id. at
¶ 6.) Plaintiff alleges that despite sending the money
order, which the Bank received on January 5, 2017, the Bank
issued him notices of default and intent to sue and demanded
payment. (Id. at ¶¶ 9-10.) On October 4,
2017, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant in the Circuit
Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. (ECF No. 2.) Defendant
timely removed the action to this Court based on federal
question jurisdiction, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
(ECF No. 1.)
Motion to Remand
defendant in a state civil action may remove the case to
federal court only if the federal court can exercise original
jurisdiction over at least one of the asserted claims. 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a)-(c). Once an action is removed to
federal court, the plaintiff may file a motion to remand the
case to state court if there is a contention that
jurisdiction is defective. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing
jurisdiction in the federal court. Johnson v. Advance
America, 549 F.3d 932, 935 (4th Cir. 2008). On a motion
to remand, this Court must “strictly construe the
removal statute and resolve all doubts in favor of remanding
the case to state court.” Richardson v. Phillip
Morris, Inc., 950 F.Supp. 700, 701-02 (D. Md. 1997)
(citation omitted); see also Dixon v. Coburg Dairy,
Inc., 369 F.3d 811, 815-16 (4th Cir. 2004).
Motion to Dismiss
Rule 8(a)(2) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, a
complaint must contain a “short and plain statement of
the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to
relief.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2). Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure authorizes the dismissal of
a complaint if it fails to state a claim upon which relief
can be granted. Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). The purpose of Rule
12(b)(6) is “to test the sufficiency of a complaint and
not to resolve contests surrounding the facts, the merits of
a claim, or the applicability of defenses.” Presley
v. City of Charlottesville, 464 F.3d 480, 483 (4th Cir.
2006). While a complaint need not include “detailed
factual allegations, ” it must set forth “enough
factual matter (taken as true) to suggest” a cognizable
cause of action, “even if . . . [the] actual proof of
those facts is improbable and . . . recovery is very remote
and unlikely.” Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly,
550 U.S. 544, 555-56 (2007); Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556
U.S. 662, 678 (2009). A plaintiff cannot rely on bald
accusations or mere speculation. Twombly, 550 U.S.
reviewing a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, a court “‘must
accept as true all of the factual allegations contained in
the complaint'” and must “‘draw all
reasonable inferences [from those facts] in favor of the
plaintiff.'” E.I. du Pont de Nemours & Co.
v. Kolon Indus., Inc., 637 F.3d 435, 440 (4th Cir. 2011)
(citations omitted); Hall v. DirectTV, LLC, 846 F.3d
757, 765 (4th Cir. 2017). However, a court is not required to
accept legal conclusions drawn from those facts.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A pro se
plaintiff's pleadings are “to be liberally
construed” and are “held to less stringent
standards than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers.”
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007);
Alley v. Yadkin County Sheriff Dept., No. 17-1249,
698 Fed.Appx. 141, 2017 WL 4415771 (4th Cir. Oct. 5, 2017).
However, even a pro se litigant's complaint must
be dismissed if it does not allege a “plausible claim
for relief.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679.
Motion to Remand
December 5, 2017, Butler filed a Motion to Remand this case
back to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland. (ECF
No. 14.) Plaintiff's Motion, however, confuses this
United States District Court for the District of Maryland
with the Baltimore City District Court. Accordingly, his
Motion addresses the jurisdictional distinctions between
Baltimore City's Circuit Court and District Court.
(Id.) Under the “well-pleaded complaint
rule” which governs the presence or absence of federal
question jurisdiction, this Court clearly has subject matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims. Caterpillar
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425
(1987); Pinney v. Nokia, Inc., 402 F.3d 430, 442
(4th Cir. 2005). The Complaint asserts that Defendant
violated three federal statutes: the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq., the
Fair Credit Reporting Act (“FCRA”), 15 U.S.C.
§ 1681, et seq., and the Truth in Lending Act
(“TILA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1601, et seq.
Because Plaintiff's claim under the Maryland Consumer
Debt Collection Act is “so related to claims in the
action within such original jurisdiction that they form part
of the same case or ...