United States District Court, D. Maryland
APRIL M. DAVIS, et al., Plaintiffs,
CAROLYN SKIPWITH, et al., Defendants.
Timothy J. Sullivan, United States Magistrate Judge.
before the Court are the parties' cross-motions for
summary judgment (ECF Nos. 102 & 103) and the
Plaintiffs' motion to remand (ECF No. 104) and motion for
default judgment (ECF No. 105). Having considered the submissions
of the parties, I find that a hearing is unnecessary.
See Local R. 105.6. For the reasons set forth below,
the Defendants' “Partial Motion to Dismiss and/or
for Summary Judgment” (ECF No. 102) will be granted,
and the Plaintiffs' motion for summary judgment (ECF No.
103), motion to remand (ECF No. 104), and motion for default
judgment (ECF No. 105) will be denied.
case arises from an incident that occurred on October 18,
2015, when James D. Golladay (“Mr. Golladay”), a
disabled individual using a wheelchair, was picked up at his
residence by Carolyn Skipwith (“Skipwith”), who
was driving a transport van for Transdev Services, Inc.
(“Transdev”). (ECF No. 48.) Plaintiffs allege
that while the transport van was on the way to its
destination, Skipwith negligently slammed on the brakes.
(Id. ¶ 6.) As a result of the sudden
deceleration, Mr. Golladay was thrown from his wheelchair to
the floor, which caused him to sustain a leg fracture and
other injuries. (Id. ¶¶ 7-8.) He died on
October 26, 2015, because of complications stemming from his
13, 2016, the Plaintiffs, April M. Davis, Helen K. Usual, and
James D. Golladay, Jr., having been appointed the personal
representatives of the Estate of Mr. Golladay, filed a
lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County,
Maryland (“Circuit Court”) against Skipwith and
Transdev. (ECF No. 2). On September 8, 2016, WMATA filed a
motion to intervene (ECF No. 6), which the Circuit Court
granted on November 1, 2016 (ECF No. 15). On November 10,
2016, WMATA removed the case to this Court pursuant to Md.
Code, Transp. § 10-204(81), which provides that federal
district courts have original jurisdiction over actions
against WMATA and that any such action initiated in a state
court in Maryland, Virginia, or the District of Columbia may
be removed to federal court. (ECF No. 1.)
the case was removed to this Court, on March 30, 2017, Judge
Messitte held a motions hearing. (ECF No. 43.) During the
hearing, the Court considered the issue of Skipwith and
Transdev's agency in the context of Plaintiffs'
motion to remand (ECF No. 26). Plaintiffs argued that because
Skipwith and Transdev were not agents of WMATA, WMATA had no
basis to remove the case under the WMATA Compact, and that
the Court therefore lacked subject matter jurisdiction. The
Court denied the motion without prejudice in order to allow
the parties to engage in discovery and to present their
arguments in motions for summary judgment after the
completion of discovery (ECF No. 60 at 37-39). See Adams
v. Bain, 697 F.2d 1213, 1219 (4th Cir. 1982) (explaining
how courts evaluate disputes regarding the existence of
subject matter jurisdiction). After the hearing, Judge
Messitte granted Plaintiffs leave to file their Second
Amended Complaint, and entered a scheduling order so that the
parties could engage in full discovery. (ECF Nos. 43 &
parties have now completed discovery and raise the same
issues previously considered by Judge Messitte. Plaintiffs
argue that because Skipwith and Transdev were not WMATA's
agents, the case must be remanded to the Circuit Court
because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. WMATA
argues that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction, and
that the claims against Skipwith and Transdev should be
dismissed with prejudice, with WMATA to remain as the sole
the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction rests on
the party asserting jurisdiction. Adams, 697 F.2d at
1219. Similarly, the burden to show the propriety of removal
rests on the party invoking removal jurisdiction. Gables
Residential Servs., Inc. v. Harris, No. JKB-16-1904,
2016 WL 3997313, at *1-2 (D. Md. July 26, 2016). Accordingly,
as the party that removed the case to this Court, and as the
party asserting that this Court has subject matter
jurisdiction, the burden rests on WMATA to show that removal
was proper and that this Court has subject matter
“jurisdictional facts are so intertwined with the facts
upon which the ultimate issues on the merits must be
resolved, the entire factual dispute is appropriately
resolved only by a proceeding on the merits.” U.S.
ex rel. Vuyyuru v. Jadhav, 555 F.3d 337, 348 (4th Cir.
2009) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted);
see also Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 193
(4th Cir. 2009) (recommending that disputed jurisdictional
facts that are intertwined with the merits should only be
resolved “after appropriate discovery, ” and
through the “application of a Rule 12(b)(6) or Rule
56(c) standard, ” rather than the “less-stringent
Rule 12(b)(1) standard”). In light of the Fourth
Circuit's guidance in Vuyyuru and
Kerns, the Court will apply the more rigorous Rule
56 standard, rather than the less-stringent standard of Rule
12(b)(1), to resolve the disputes regarding the Court's
subject matter jurisdiction.
court shall grant summary judgment if the movant shows that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and the
movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.”
Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). The burden is on the moving party to
demonstrate the absence of any genuine dispute of material
fact. Adickes v. S.H. Kress & Co., 398 U.S. 144,
157 (1970). If sufficient evidence exists for a reasonable
jury to render a verdict in favor of the party opposing the
motion, then a genuine dispute of material fact is presented
and summary judgment should be denied. See Anderson v.
Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 248 (1986). However,
the “mere existence of a scintilla of evidence in
support of the [opposing party's] position” is
insufficient to defeat a motion for summary judgment.
Id. at 252.
facts themselves, and the inferences to be drawn from the
underlying facts, must be viewed in the light most favorable
to the opposing party. Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S.
372, 378 (2007); Iko v. Shreve, 535 F.3d 225, 230
(4th Cir. 2008). A party may not rest upon the mere
allegations or denials of its pleading but instead must, by
affidavit or other evidentiary showing, set out specific
facts showing a genuine dispute for trial. Fed.R.Civ.P.
56(c)(1). Supporting and opposing affidavits are to be made
on personal knowledge, contain such facts as would be
admissible in evidence, and show affirmatively the competence
of the affiant to testify to the matters stated in the
affidavit. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c)(4).
was established by an interstate compact among Virginia,
Maryland and the District of Columbia to provide a regional
system of transportation for the Washington, D.C.,
metropolitan area.” Delon Hampton & Assocs.,
Chartered v. Washington Metro. Area Transit
Auth., 943 F.2d 355, 357 (4th Cir. 1991). In
Maryland, the compact is codified at Md. Code, Transp. §
10-204 (“WMATA Compact”). The signatories to the
compact conferred upon WMATA each of their respective
sovereign immunities, including the immunity from suit in
federal court afforded to Maryland under the Eleventh
Amendment. Fulcrum Int'l, Inc. v. Prince
George Ctr. I, Inc., 503 Fed.Appx. 193, 194-95 (4th
Cir. 2012) (citing Watters v. Wash. Metro. Area Transit
Auth., 295 F.3d 36, 39 (D.C. Cir. 2002)). Pursuant to
Section 80 of the WMATA Compact, however, WMATA has waived
its immunity in certain circumstances:
The Authority shall be liable for its . . . its torts and
those of its . . . employees and agents committed in the
conduct of any proprietary function, in accordance with the
law of the applicable signatory (including rules on conflict
of laws), but shall not be liable for any torts occurring in
the performance of a governmental function. The exclusive
remedy for such . . . torts for ...