United States District Court, D. Maryland
K. Bredar Chief Judge
Credit Bureau Strategy Consulting, LLC
(“Plaintiff” or “CBSC”), filed a
lawsuit against Bridgeforce, Inc., in the Circuit Court for
Worcester County, Maryland, on January 27, 2017.
(See Compl., ECF No. 2.) Plaintiff subsequently
amended its complaint naming Bridgeforce LLC, f/k/a
Bridgeforce, Inc. (“Bridgeforce”), and
Bridgeforce Data Quality Solutions LLC as Defendants. (First
Am. Compl., ECF No. 15.) After almost a year of litigation in
state court, Bridgeforce removed the case to this Court on
January 9, 2018. (See Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiff moved to remand on February 9, 2018 (ECF No. 104),
and that motion is fully briefed and ripe (see ECF
Nos. 119, 122). Bridgeforce moved for leave to file a
surreply on June 15, 2018 (ECF No. 123), and that motion is
fully briefed and ripe as well (see ECF Nos. 124,
127). There is no need to hold a hearing to resolve either
matter. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016).
Bridgeforce's motion for leave to file a surreply will be
denied by accompanying order. The Court does not have
jurisdiction over this matter, and therefore Plaintiff's
motion to remand will be granted by accompanying order.
asserts that it is a “Maryland plaintiff.”
(See Mot. Remand 10, ECF No. 104.) Plaintiff is an
LLC and has not explained who its members are, but alleges
that its “owner and Chief Executive Officer” is a
Maryland resident. (First Am. Compl. ¶ 2.) Bridgeforce
is an LLC as well, and now asserts that one of its members is
a Maryland citizen. (See Opp'n Mot. Remand 3,
ECF No. 119.) Therefore, both Plaintiff and Bridgeforce
appear to be Maryland citizens for purposes of diversity
jurisdiction. See Smith v. Westminster Mgmt., LLC,
Civ. No. 17-3282, 2018 WL 572867, at *2 (D. Md. 2018).
lawsuit asserts six state law causes of action. (First Am.
Compl. ¶¶ 45-80.) Bridgeforce has brought nine
state law counterclaims. (See First Am. Counterclaim
and First Am. Third-Party Compl., ECF No. 76.) No party to
this action has brought a claim for relief under federal law,
and neither Plaintiff nor Bridgeforce has directed the Court
to a claim that any party has brought in this action that
arises under federal law.
December 20, 2017, Plaintiff's counsel sent
Bridgeforce's counsel a letter. (See Letter,
Notice of Removal Ex. 1, ECF No. 1-1.) In this letter,
Plaintiff's counsel wrote that CBSC “ha[d]
discovered, in the course of litigation ongoing during this
year, that Bridgeforce LLC and/or its related companies . . .
have made use of CBSC's copyrighted materials in a way
that is outside” a licensing agreement Plaintiff and
Bridgeforce purportedly signed. (Id. at 1.)
Plaintiff's counsel further wrote, “CBSC asserts
that these acts constitute violations of 17 U.S.C. § 106
- 122 and 1201, et seq., ” referring to federal
copyright provisions of the United States Code. (Id.
at 2.) Twenty days later, Bridgeforce removed the case to
this Court, asserting federal question jurisdiction.
Plaintiff then moved to remand.
Motion for Leave to File Surreply
“Surreplies are highly disfavored in this District,
” and may only be filed with the Court's
permission. Roach v. Navient Solutions, Inc., 165
F.Supp.3d 343, 351 (D. Md. 2015) (citing Local Rule
105.2(a)). Surreplies, however, “may be permitted when
the moving party would be unable to contest matters presented
to the court for the first time in the opposing party's
reply.” Khoury v. Meserve, 268 F.Supp.2d 600,
605 (D. Md. 2003).
Plaintiff's motion to remand it made two arguments: A)
“Bridgeforce Has Not Complied with the Removal
Statute” (arguing that the criteria for diversity
jurisdiction had been apparent in this case for over a year)
and B) “A Cease and Desist Letter Does Not Create a
Claim or Federal Jurisdiction.” (Mot. Remand 10-11, ECF
Bridgeforce's opposition, it explained that the criteria
for diversity jurisdiction have never existed in this case
and are still not present. It then argued that the December
20 letter constitutes “other paper” within the
meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3), that the letter
alerted Bridgeforce to the presence of a federal question in
this case, and thus removal within 30 days of receipt of the
letter was proper. (See Opp'n Mot. Remand.) In
Plaintiff's reply, it conceded there is no diversity
jurisdiction, and then addressed Bridgeforce's
“other paper” argument. Plaintiff, echoing almost
verbatim its opening brief, wrote “There is No Federal
Question Jurisdiction in this Case.” (Reply 3, ECF No.
now argues Plaintiff sneaked a “brand new
argument” into its reply. Plaintiff did no such thing.
Perhaps Plaintiff's initial memorandum did not give
certain issues, like whether federal question jurisdiction
exists in this case, the attention they may have ultimately
deserved. But that is not a sufficient reason to permit
Bridgeforce a surreply. See Mirowski Family
Ventures, LLC v. Boston Sci. Corp., Civ. No.
WDQ-13-2627, 2014 WL 2574615, at *3 (D. Md. June 5, 2014)
(“[The defendant] has offered no authority to support
its argument that [the plaintiff's] failure in its
opening brief to give [an issue] the attention that [the
defendant] believes it deserves justifies the filing of a
surreply.”). Plaintiff presented no new arguments in
its reply, and Bridgeforce's motion for leave to file a
surreply will be denied.
Motion to Remand
action brought in a state court may be removed only if the
district court would have had original jurisdiction over it.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “The burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction is placed upon the party
seeking removal.” Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic
Chems. Co.,29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). “If
at any time before final judgment it appears that the