United States District Court, D. Maryland
EDWARD V. GIANNASCA, II, Plaintiff,
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A. PETER KAFOUROS, RUTH DEREWYANKO, WILMINGTON TRUST, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, V MORTGAGE REO 3, LLC, SHELLPOINT MORTGAGE SERVICING, RESIDENTIAL CREDIT SOLUTIONS, CARRINGTON MORTGAGE SERVICES, LLC, STERN & EISENBERG MID-ATLANTIC, PC, PAUL J. MORAN, ESQ., J.P. MORGAN MORTGAGE ACQUISITIONS CORP., and JOHN DOES 1-4 Defendants.
L. HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Edward V. Giannasca, II, who is self-represented, filed suit
against a host of defendants, alleging fraud in connection
with a construction loan and a mortgage. ECF 2
(“Complaint”). In an amended complaint (ECF 24-1,
“Amended Complaint”), he alleged “financial
fraud” and “mortgage fraud” related to a
first mortgage of $1.5 million with respect to his family
farm in Street, Maryland. ECF 24-1 at 5. Several exhibits are
appended to the suit. See ECF 24-2 to 24-8.
and New Penn Financial, LLC d/b/a/ Shellpoint Mortgage
Servicing (“Shellpoint”); V Mortgage REO 3, LLC
(“V Mortgage); and Wilmington Trust, National
Association (“Wilmington Trust”), in its capacity
as a trustee for VM Trust Series 3, filed a “Joint
Stipulation Of Dismissal With Prejudice” on March 6,
2018. ECF 33. On March 22, 2018, I granted the “Joint
Stipulation.” ECF 37.
has not set forth any allegations or claims against the Doe
defendants. Accordingly, I shall dismiss them from this case.
See Pair v. Alexander, GLR-16-1492, 2018 WL 1583472,
at*1 n.2 (Apr. 2, 2018) (dismissing claims against Doe
defendants on the ground the plaintiff “d[id] not raise
specific allegations against the John Doe defendants”).
Mortgage Services, LLC (“Carrington”) was named
as a defendant in the original Complaint. In the Amended
Complaint, plaintiff added defendant J.P. Morgan Mortgage
Acquisitions Corp. (“J.P. Morgan”). See
ECF 24; ECF 24-1. According to the Docket, neither party was
served. See Docket.
all cases removed from any State court to any district court
. . . in which any . . . of the defendants has not been
served with process . . . prior to removal, . . . such
process or service may be completed or new process issued in
the same manner as in cases originally filed in such district
court.” 28 U.S.C. § 1448. Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m)
requires a plaintiff to serve a defendant “within 90
days after the complaint is filed.” If any defendant is
not served within that time, “the court . . . must
dismiss the action without prejudice against that defendant
or order that service be made within a specified time.”
to 28 U.S.C. § 1448 and Fed.R.Civ.P. 4(m), plaintiff was
required to serve Carrington by October 24, 2017, and to
serve J.P. Morgan by December 4, 2017. Because plaintiff has
not yet served these defendants, I shall dismiss the claims
against them, without prejudice.
Bank of America, N.A. (“Bank of America” or
“BOA”), Ruth Derewyanko, and Peter Kafouros have
filed a joint motion to dismiss (ECF 31), supported by a
memorandum of law (ECF 31-1) (collectively, “BOA
Motion”) and exhibits. See ECF 31-2 through
ECF 31-6. Additionally, defendant Residential Credit
Solutions, Inc. (“Residential”) filed a motion to
dismiss (ECF 34), along with a memorandum of law (ECF 34-1)
(collectively, “Residential Motion”) and an
exhibit. See ECF 34-2. And, defendants Paul J.
Moran, Esq. and Stern & Eisenberg Mid-Atlantic, PC
(“Stern & Eisenberg”) filed a joint motion to
dismiss (ECF 35), along with a memorandum of law (ECF 35-1)
(collectively, “Moran Motion”). Plaintiff opposes
all of the motions. ECF 38; ECF 39; ECF 40 (collectively
“Opposition”). Defendants have replied. ECF 41
(“BOA Reply”); ECF 42 (“Moran
Reply”); ECF 43 (“Residential Reply”).
hearing is necessary to resolve the motions. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons set forth below, I shall
grant defendants' motions.
dispute concerns alleged fraud with regard to a construction
loan and mortgage on Giannasca's family farm. In 2006,
Giannasca applied to Bank of America for a $2 million
construction loan and mortgage on a farm owned at the time by
the Giannasca Family Farm, LLC (“GFF”). ECF 24-1
at 10. Giannasca intended to use the proceeds of
the construction loan to satisfy a prior mortgage and to fund
a construction project on the farm. Id. During the
loan application process, he was assisted by Derewyanko, a
BOA account executive. Id. After plaintiff submitted
his loan application, he received Bank of America's $2
million loan documents, including a funding date and a first
payment due date. Id. at 11. Derewyanko advised
Giannasca to accelerate the construction renovations to
ensure a $3 million BOA appraisal prior to funding the loan.
Id. Giannasca did so, and the property was appraised
at $3 million. Id.
February 2007, Derewyanko advised Giannasca that the loan
would be reduced to $1.5 million, due to “sweeping
system-wide changes in [Bank of America's] loan
products.” Id. at 12. To make up for the
shortfall, she suggested Giannasca increase his home equity
line of credit. Id. She also informed Giannasca that
the loan could not be made to GFF because it was a limited
liability company, and that Giannasca would have to transfer
the farm to himself to receive the loan. Id.
Accordingly, Giannasca transferred the farm from GFF to
himself, and the loan ultimately closed for $1.5 million on
February 13, 2007. Id. at 6. However, BOA never
approved an increase in Giannasca's home equity line of
credit. As a result, a $500, 000 financing shortfall remained
for his construction project. Id.
liens were lodged against the farm, and Giannasca was sued by
contractors engaged in the construction project. Id.
at 13. Thus, Giannasca contends that his credit was ruined
because BOA failed to lend the additional $500, 000.
Id. at 13-14.
right to service the construction loan was subsequently
released to other entities, including Carrington,
Residential, and Shellpoint. Id. at 14. Giannasca
ultimately defaulted on the loan and Shellpoint, through its
attorneys, Moran and Stern & Eisenberg, initiated
foreclosure proceedings. Id. at 15.
addition, Giannasca references a “McCrary Action,
” alleging that the judgments in that action have
prohibited him from refinancing the mortgage on his home and
have contributed to his financial ruin. ECF 24-1 at 14-15.
However, he fails to explain the nature of the “McCrary
also alleges that he suffered damages from the conduct of BOA
and Kafouros, including, id. at 17:
(i) allowing the opening of the Crescent City bank account
with improper documentation . . ., (ii) by allowing [Stuart
C.] Fisher to deposit a check for $5, 000, 000
dollars into a BOA account when the check was made payable to
a nonexistent corporation, (iii) by allowing Fisher to
negotiate (deposit) the $5, 000, 000 check into an account
when he was not a signatory or authorized user of that
account, and (iv) allowing Fisher to make withdrawals from an
account without any authority whatsoever to do so, (v) by
allowing Fisher to deposit monies into personal accounts
without the account owner[']s knowledge and control.
the “Crescent City bank account” is related to
Crescent City, LLC (“Crescent City”), in which
plaintiff claims to hold a 50% interest. See Id. at
20. Plaintiff asserts that Crescent City entered into a $5,
700, 000 settlement agreement with BOA in 2011
(“Crescent City settlement”). Id.
Additionally, “Fisher” appears to have
connections to Crescent City and Giannasca. See Id.
at 21. According to an unsigned affidavit of secured
creditors of plaintiff, attached to the Complaint (ECF 2-2 at
21-32),  Stuart C. Fisher “was personally
responsible for soliciting and delivering Bank of America,
Palm Beach to the Giannasca Family's Farm in Harford
County, Maryland.” ECF 2-2 at 22.
avers that the Crescent City settlement resolved the case of
Crescent City Estates, LLC v. Bank of America, N.A.,
CCB-08-3458 (ECF 24-1 at 20-21). On December 24, 2008, BOA
removed that case to this Court from the Circuit Court for
Baltimore City. See Id. ECF 1. In that
litigation, Crescent City alleged that BOA converted $11,
000, 000 by allowing Fisher to open a BOA account in Crescent
City's name without authorization, and then depositing
several checks payable to Crescent City into that account.
See CCB-08-3458, ECF 2. The parties filed a
stipulation of dismissal on June 1, 2011. See
CCB-08-3458, ECF 105. The terms of the settlement agreement
are not publicly available. See CCB-08-3458.
noted, plaintiff asserts that he owns a 50% interest in
Crescent City, LLC. ECF 24-1 at 20. But, he complains that he
was not a party to the Crescent City settlement agreement,
and only recently became aware of it. ECF 1 at
13-14. According to plaintiff, the Crescent City
settlement agreement is central to his claim of conspiracy
and collusion (Count Four) against BOA.
2016, Giannasca and the Giannasca Family Farm, LLC filed a
“Fraud Complaint” in the Circuit Court for
Harford County against BOA, Kafouros, Derewyanko, Shellpoint,
Residential, Carrington, Stern & Eisenberg, Gregory
Mullen, Esq., and several Doe defendants. They alleged fraud
in the inducement; breach of contract; negligence; negligent
training and supervision; breach of common law duty of
inquiry; breach of duty to disclose; tortious interference;
flipping a troubled loan; lender fraud and misrepresentation;
conspiracy; and collusion. The case was removed to this court
in June 2016. See Giannasca v. Bank of America, N.A. et.
al., JFM-16-2002, ECF 2. Judge Motz dismissed the case
in January 2017, upon defendants' motions for failure to
state a claim. Id., ECF 42. Giannasca then filed the
case sub judice in the Circuit Court for Harford County (ECF
2), and in July 2017 the case was again removed to this Court
and assigned initially to Judge Motz. ECF 1.
September 5, 2017, plaintiff filed an amended complaint,
without leave of Court or consent of the parties. ECF 24
(“Amended Complaint”). All defendants filed
motions to strike the Amended Complaint. See ECF 26
(BOA, Derewyanko, and Kafouros); ECF 28 (Residential); ECF 29
(Moran; Shellpoint, Stern & Eisenberg, V Mortgage REO 3,
and Wilmington Trust). The Court denied the motions to
strike. ECF 30.
Amended Complaint contains five counts: fraud in the
inducement (Count One); “flipping” the
“struggling loan” (Count Two); lender fraud and
misrepresentation (Count Three); conspiracy and collusion
(Count Four); and punitive damages (Count Five).
facts are included in the Discussion.
Standard of Review
defendant may test the legal sufficiency of a complaint by
way of a motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6). In re
Birmingham, 846 F.3d 88, 92 (4th Cir. 2017); Goines
v. Valley Cmty. Servs. Bd., 822 F.3d 159, 165-66 (4th
Cir. 2016); McBurney v. Cuccinelli, 616 F.3d 393,
408 (4th Cir. 2010), aff'd sub nom. McBurney v.
Young, 569 U.S. 221 (2013); Edwards v. City of
Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999). A Rule
12(b)(6) motion constitutes an assertion by a defendant that,
even if the facts alleged by a plaintiff are true, the
complaint fails as a matter of law “to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted.”
a complaint states a claim for relief is assessed by
reference to the pleading requirements of Rule 8(a)(2). That
rule provides that a complaint must contain a “short
and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is
entitled to relief.” The purpose of the rule is to
provide the defendant with “fair notice” of the
claims and the “grounds” for entitlement to
relief. Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544,
survive a motion under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6), a complaint
must contain facts sufficient to “state a claim to
relief that is plausible on its face.”
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 570; see Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 684 (2009) (“Our decision in
Twombly expounded the pleading standard for
‘all civil actions' . . . .” (citation
omitted)); see also Willner v. Dimon, 849 F.3d 93,
112 (4th Cir. 2017). But, a plaintiff need not include
“detailed factual allegations” in order to
satisfy Rule 8(a)(2). Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.
sure, federal pleading rules “do not countenance
dismissal of a complaint for imperfect statement of the legal
theory supporting the claim asserted.” Johnson v.
City of Shelby, Miss., 574 U.S. ___, 135 S.Ct. 346, 346
(2014) (per curiam). Nevertheless, the rule demands more than
bald accusations or mere speculation. Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555; see Painter's Mill Grille, LLC v.
Brown, 716 F.3d 342, 350 (4th Cir. 2013). A complaint is
insufficient if it provides no more than “labels and
conclusions” or “a formulaic recitation of the
elements of a cause of action.” Twombly, 550
U.S. at 555. Rather, to satisfy the minimal requirements of
Rule 8(a)(2), the complaint 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.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556
(internal quotations omitted).
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); see Semenova v. Maryland Transit
Admin., 845 F.3d 564, 567 (4th Cir. 2017); Belmora,
LLC v. Bayer Consumer Care AG, 819 F.3d 697, 705 (4th
Cir. 2016); Houck v. Substitute Tr. Servs., Inc.,
791 F.3d 473, 484 (4th Cir. 2015); Kendall v.
Balcerzak, 650 F.3d 515, 522 (4th Cir. 2011), cert.
denied, 565 U.S. 943 (2011). But, a court is not
required to accept legal conclusions drawn from the facts.
See Papasan v. Allain, 478 U.S. 265, 286 (1986).
“A court decides whether [the pleading] standard is met
by separating the legal conclusions from the factual
allegations, assuming the truth of only the factual
allegations, and then determining whether those allegations
allow the court to reasonably infer” that the plaintiff
is entitled to the legal remedy sought. A Society Without
a Name v. Virginia, 655 F.3d 342, 346 (4th Cir. 2011),
cert. denied, 566 U.S. 937 (2012).
general, courts do not “resolve contests surrounding
the facts, the merits of a claim, or the applicability of
defenses” through a Rule 12(b)(6) motion. Edwards
v. City of Goldsboro, 178 F.3d 231, 243 (4th Cir. 1999).
The purpose of the rule is to ensure that defendants are
“given adequate notice of the nature of a claim”
made against them. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555-56
(2007). But, “in the relatively rare circumstances
where facts sufficient to rule on an affirmative defense are
alleged in the complaint, the defense may be reached by a
motion to dismiss filed under Rule 12(b)(6).”
Goodman v. Praxair, Inc., 494 F.3d 458, 464 (4th
Cir. 2007) (en banc); accord Pressley v. Tupperware Long
Term Disability Plan, 533 F.3d 334, 336 (4th Cir. 2009);
see also U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Penn. Higher Educ.
Assistance Agency, 745 F.3d 131, 148 (4th Cir. 2014).
However, because Rule 12(b)(6) “is intended [only] to
test the legal adequacy of the complaint, ”
Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v.
Forst, 4 F.3d 244, 250 (4th Cir. 1993), “[t]his
principle only applies . . . if all facts necessary to the
affirmative defense ‘clearly appear[ ] on the face of
the complaint.'” Goodman, 494 F.3d at 464
(quoting Forst, 4 F.3d at 250) (emphasis added in
survive a motion to dismiss, a complaint, relying on only
well-pled factual allegations, must state a “plausible
claim for relief.” Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S.
662, 678-79 (2009). The “mere recital of elements of a
cause of action, supported only by conclusory statements, is
not sufficient to survive a motion made pursuant to Rule
12(b)(6).” Walters v. McMahen, 684 F.3d 435,
439 (4th Cir. 2012). To determine whether a complaint has
crossed “the line from conceivable to plausible,
” a court must employ a context-specific inquiry,
drawing on the court's “experience and common
sense.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 679-80.
limited circumstances, when resolving a Rule 12(b)(6) motion,
a court may consider exhibits, without converting the motion
to dismiss to one for summary judgment. Goldfarb v. Mayor
& City Council of Balt., 791 F.3d 500, 508 (4th Cir.
2015). In particular, a court may consider documents that are
“explicitly incorporated into the complaint by
reference and those attached to the complaint as exhibits . .
. .” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166 (citations
omitted); see also U.S. ex rel. Oberg v. Pennsylvania
Higher Educ. Assistance Agency, 745 F.3d 131, 136 (4th
Cir. 2014); Anand v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, 754
F.3d 195, 198 (4th Cir. 2014); Am. Chiropractic Ass'n
v. Trigon Healthcare, Inc., 367 F.3d 212, 234 (4th Cir.
2004), cert. denied, 543 U.S. 979 (2004);
Phillips v. LCI Int'l Inc., 190 F.3d 609, 618
(4th Cir. 1999). A court may also take judicial notice of
matters of public record. Philips, supra,
572 F.3d at 180.
“before treating the contents of an attached or
incorporated document as true, the district court should
consider the nature of the document and why the plaintiff
attached it.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 167 (citing
N. Ind. Gun & Outdoor Shows, Inc. v. City of S.
Bend, 163 F.3d 449, 455 (7th Cir. 1998)). “When
the plaintiff attaches or incorporates a document upon which
his claim is based, or when the complaint otherwise shows
that the plaintiff has adopted the contents of the document,
crediting the document over conflicting allegations in the
complaint is proper.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 167.
Conversely, “where the plaintiff attaches or
incorporates a document for purposes other than the
truthfulness of the document, it is inappropriate to treat
the contents of that document as true.” Id.
may also “consider a document submitted by the movant
that was not attached to or expressly incorporated in a
complaint, so long as the document was integral to the
complaint and there is no dispute about the document's
authenticity.” Goines, 822 F.3d at 166
(citations omitted); see also Woods v. City of
Greensboro, 855 F.3d 639, 642 (4th Cir. 2017),
petition for cert. filed, No. 17-492 (Oct. 3, 2017);
Kensington Volunteer Fire Dep't. v. Montgomery
Cty., 684 F.3d 462, 467 (4th Cir. 2012). To be
“integral, ” a document must be one “that
by its ‘very existence, and not the mere
information it contains, gives rise to the legal rights
asserted.'” Chesapeake Bay Found., Inc. v.
Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 794 F.Supp.2d 602, 611
(D. Md. 2011) (citation omitted) (emphasis in original).
submits several exhibits with his Amended Complaint.
See ECF 24-2 at 1-9 (Proof of complaint that
plaintiff filed with the Consumer Financial Protection
Bureau); ECF 24-2 at 11-13 (Proof of complaint that plaintiff
filed with the Federal Bureau of Investigation); ECF 24-2 at
14-19 (Department of Justice press release on BOA settlement
for financial fraud); ECF 24-2 at 20-21 (List of BOA
securitizations); ECF 24-2 at 22-23 (Business Wire release on
Fitch rating of BOA Funding Corp.'s mortgage pass through
certificates, series 2007-B); ECF 24-2 at 24-25
(Plaintiff's e-mail to the Department of Housing and
Urban Development, Office of Inspector General); ECF 24-2 at
26-29 (Proof of complaint that plaintiff filed with the
Office of the Comptroller of the Currency); ECF 24-2 at 30-32
(Proof of complaint that plaintiff filed with the Department
of Justice); ECF 24-3 (Proof of complaint that plaintiff
filed with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau); ECF
24-4 (Letter from Shellpoint to plaintiff); ECF 24-5 (Letter
from Residential to plaintiff); ECF 24-6 (Residential's
mortgage statement for plaintiff); ECF 24-7 at 2 (Interest
rates on BOA mortgage per adjustable rate note); ECF 24-7 at
3-8 (BOA's adjustable rate note); ECF 24-8
(Plaintiff's annotated copy of proof of the claim
submitted by Shellpoint in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court,
Baltimore Division). Because these exhibits are incorporated
into the Amended Complaint, I may consider them without
converting the motions to dismiss to motions for summary
defendants submit various exhibits with their motions to
dismiss. See ECF 31-2 (Deed of Trust); ECF 31-3
(Uniform Residential Loan Application, dated February 13,
2007); ECF 31-4 (Exception/Accommodation Request Form
submitted by plaintiff to BOA, dated January 18, 2007); ECF
31-5 (the docket from the Circuit Court for Harford County
case of Wittstadt v. Giannasca, No. 12C12003437);
ECF 34-2 (Order of this Court, dated January 26, 2017, in the
case of Giannasca v. Bank of America, et al.,
Deed of Trust (ECF 31-2) submitted as an exhibit to the BOA
Motion is integral to plaintiff's claim of
“flipping” a “struggling loan.” In
that claim, plaintiff appears to challenge the legality of
the sale of the Construction Loan from Bank of America to
Carrington, then to Residential, and then to Shellpoint.
See ECF 24-1 at 18. Plaintiff does not dispute the
authenticity of the Deed of Trust. See ECF 38. And,
the Deed of Trust gives rise to the rights plaintiff asserts
in his claim of “flipping” a “struggling
loan.” See ECF 24-1 at 18. Accordingly, the
Deed of Trust (ECF 31-2) is integral to the Amended
Complaint, and I may consider it without converting the BOA
Motion to one for summary judgment.
Court is mindful that the pleadings of a pro se litigant,
such as plaintiff, are “held to less rigorous standards
than formal pleadings drafted by lawyers” See
Erickson v. Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); see also
White v. White, 886 F.2d 721, 722-23 (4th Cir. 1989).
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
“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). And, this Court, like all federal courts,
has “an independent obligation to determine whether
subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even when no party
challenges it.” Hertz Corp. v. Friend, 559
U.S. 77, 94 (2010).
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), federal district courts have
subject matter jurisdiction over “civil actions where
the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,
000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between . . .
citizens of different States.” Diversity jurisdiction
under § 1332 “requires complete diversity among
parties, meaning that the citizenship of every plaintiff must
be different from the citizenship of every defendant.”
Cent. W.Va. Energy Co. v. Mountain State Carbon,
LLC, 636 F.3d 101, 103 (4th Cir. 2011).
case, defendants Bank of America, Kafouros, and Derewyanko
filed a Notice of Removal, invoking this Court's
diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
See ECF 1. The parties are diverse except for
plaintiff Giannasca and defendant Moran. Id.
¶¶ 24-33. Both are citizens of Maryland.
Id. ¶¶ 24, 34.
justify diversity jurisdiction, despite the incomplete
diversity of the parties, defendants BOA, Kafouros, and
Derewyanko invoked the doctrine of fraudulent joinder in
their Notice of Removal. ECF 1, ¶¶ 34-35. They
asserted that “there is no possibility that Plaintiff
can establish a cause of action against Mr. Moran, and,
accordingly, his citizenship should be disregarded for
diversity purposes.” Id. ¶ 34. Plaintiff
has not disputed defendants' contention. Nevertheless, I
have “an independent obligation to determine whether
subject-matter jurisdiction exists” here.
Hertz, 559 U.S. at 94. I agree with the defendants:
the doctrine of fraudulent joinder applies and thus this
Court has subject-matter jurisdiction.
Fourth Circuit has adopted an exception to complete diversity
known as the doctrine of fraudulent joinder. See Mayes v.
Rapoport, 198 F.3d 457, 464 (4th Cir. 1999). The
fraudulent joinder doctrine prevents a plaintiff from
including or adding a non-diverse defendant solely for the
purpose of defeating federal diversity jurisdiction. See
Id. at 461 n.8. When the doctrine applies, a court can
“disregard, for jurisdictional purposes, the
citizenship of certain non-diverse defendants, assume
jurisdiction over a case, dismiss the nondiverse defendants,
and thereby retain jurisdiction.” Mayes, 198
F.3d at 464; accord Schur v. L.A. Weight Loss ...