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Washington v. Moghees

United States District Court, D. Maryland

December 4, 2018

MAX MOGHEES, Defendant.


          Ellen Lipton Hollander, United States District Judge.

         Plaintiff George Washington, who is self-represented, filed suit against defendant Max Moghees, an employee of "JBA dealership" ("JBA").[1] ECF 1 (the "Complaint"). Washington asserts various claims arising out of his purchase and financing of a vehicle that he bought from JBA on July 30, 2017. Id. Specifically, Washington alleges that JBA "tricked [him] into accepting ... the purchase of a used veh[icle]" and has arranged "an illegal interest rate and finance charge[]" with the auto lender, Ally Bank. Id. Plaintiff appended several exhibits to the suit. See ECF 1-2.

         Moghees has moved to dismiss the Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1), and for failure to state a claim, pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6). ECF 6. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law. ECF 6-1 (collectively, the "Motion"). Moghees contends, among other things, that this Court lacks diversity jurisdiction over plaintiffs claims.[2] ECF 6-1 at 6-7. In response, Washington filed an "Affidavit of Truth" (ECF 11), supported by an exhibit.[3] ECF 11-1. Moghees has replied. ECF 12 (the "Reply").

         A hearing is unnecessary to resolve the Motion. See Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall grant the Motion.

         I. Factual Background[4]

         Washington is "a proud resident of the State of Maryland." ECF 1 at 1. Moghees is an employee of JBA, located in Glen Burnie, Maryland. Id. Washington maintains that JBA is a part owner of Ally Bank. Id. at 2. According to plaintiff, JBA is "using the bank name to extort money from it[s] customers." Id.

         Washington alleges that he was "verbally misinformed / tricked into accepting [the] contract of the purchase of a used veh[icle] 2014 Chevrolet Suburban LT with 36000 plus miles . . . ." Id. at 1. Prior to the purchase, Washington claims that he "asked Mr. Max [Moghees] about the monthly payment of [$]899.92, what amount went to the principle [sic] and the interest rate and his reply was that he didn't know but to wait for the bank to call me." Id.

         Ally Bank never contacted Washington. ECF 1 at 1. But, plaintiff "kept calling" until he eventually received a response. Id. Washington was told that if he made his vehicle payments on time every month, Ally Bank would allocate $500 to the principal balance of his auto loan, and the remainder "would go to the interest rate." Id. at 1-2.

         Plaintiff states that he "never pay attention to [the] monthly payment," but he noticed that the "numbers [were] not matching." Id. at 2. According to plaintiff, Ally Bank failed to allocate the proper amount of his monthly payment to the principal balance of his loan. Id. As a result, Washington called Ally Bank "to make corrections." Id. In response, "[t]he bank said that this is how the JBA dealership wanted it to be/setup [sic], that the interest rate on this [vehicle] is triple[] the amount of the principle [sic] plus the finance charges . . . ." Id.

         The Complaint asks the Court to intervene "with a trial date for a civilized settlement agreement to all parties to resolve this" and to order the Federal Bureau of Investigation to commence an investigation of JBA.[5] Notably, plaintiff fails to specify the basis for jurisdiction in federal court.

         Additional facts are included in the Discussion.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Rule 12(b)(1)

         A challenge to a federal court's subject matter jurisdiction is reviewed pursuant to Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(1). Under Rule 12(b)(1), the plaintiff bears the burden of proving, by a preponderance of evidence, the existence of subject matter jurisdiction. See Demetres v. East West Const, Inc., 776 F.3d 271, 272 (4th Cir. 2015); see also Evans v. B.F. Perkins Co., 166 F.3d 642, 647 (4th Cir. 1999). A test of subject matter jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1) may proceed "in one of two ways": either a facial challenge, asserting that the allegations pleaded in the complaint are insufficient to establish subject matter jurisdiction, or a factual challenge, asserting "that the jurisdictional allegations of the complaint [are] not true." Kerns v. United States, 585 F.3d 187, 192 (4th Cir. 2009) (quotation marks and citation omitted); accord Durden v. United States, 736 F.3d296, 300 (4th Cir. 2013).

         In a facial challenge, "the facts alleged in the complaint are taken as true, and the motion must be denied if the complaint alleges sufficient facts to invoke subject matter jurisdiction." Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192; see also Ibarra v. United States, 120 F.3d 472, 474 (4th Cir. 1997). In a factual challenge, on the other hand, "the district court is entitled to decide disputed issues of fact with respect to subject matter jurisdiction." Kerns, 585 F.3d at 192. In that circumstance, the court "may regard the pleadings as mere evidence on the issue and may consider evidence outside the pleadings without converting the proceeding to one for summary judgment." Velasco v. Gov't of Indonesia, 370 F.3d 392, 398 (4th Cir. 2004); see also Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac R.R. Co. v. United States, 945 F.2d 765, 768 (4th Cir. 1991).

         With respect to Moghees' contention that Court lacks diversity jurisdiction over plaintiffs claims, Moghees seems to raise a facial challenge. Therefore, I shall assume the truth of Washington's allegations. Id.

         B. Rule 12(b)(6)

         A 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."

         Whether 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 ...

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