United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander United States District Judge.
Tournaments, LLC, d/b/a Elite Tournaments
(“Elite”), filed suit in the Circuit Court for
Howard County against United States Youth Soccer Association,
Inc. (“USYSA”); United States Youth Soccer
Association, Inc. d/b/a U.S. Youth Soccer; United States
Youth Soccer Association, Inc. d/b/a/ U.S. Youth Soccer
Region I; United States Youth Soccer Association, Inc. d/b/a
Eastern Regional League; and United States Youth Soccer
Association, Inc. d/b/a U.S. Youth Soccer Region I - Eastern
Regional League. ECF 1-3 (the “Complaint”).
Plaintiff alleges “Breach of Contract” (Count I);
“Anticipatory Breach of Contract” (Count II); and
“Declaratory Judgment” (Count III). Id.
basis of diversity jurisdiction, USYSA removed the case to
this Court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332. ECF 1,
¶ 5. Now pending is plaintiff's Motion for Remand.
ECF 12. The motion is supported by a memorandum of law (ECF
12-1) (collectively, the “Motion”), along with
exhibits. See ECF 12-2 to ECF 12-4.
alleges that the removal violates a forum selection clause
contained in the “Memorandum of Understanding” at
issue in this case. See ECF 12-2 (the
“Contract”). Further, Elite claims the Notice of
Removal was not timely filed within the 30-day period
established under 28 U.S.C. § 1446. USYSA opposes the
Motion (ECF 15, the “Opposition”) and submitted
an exhibit. ECF 15-1. Plaintiff has replied. ECF 21
hearing is necessary to resolve the Motion. See
Local Rule 105.6. For the reasons that follow, I shall deny
October 7, 2016, Elite, a sports management firm specializing
in youth sporting events, entered into a contract with
“Eastern Regional League U.S. Youth Soccer Region
I” (“ERL”). ECF 1-3, ¶¶ 22-27;
see also ECF 12-2. The parties agreed that ERL would
incorporate some of Elite's soccer events and tournaments
into its youth soccer regional league. ECF 1-3 at
¶¶ 1, 30. The contract has a three-year term and
terminates after the end of the 2019 Eastern Regional League
season. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 31.
Complaint alleges that USYSA unilaterally announced that it
would be eliminating its regional league system in favor of
national conferences. Further, it allegedly announced that it
had selected a different company, instead of Elite, to manage
its tournaments. Id. at ¶¶ 3, 47-55.
According to Elite, the defendant told Elite in no uncertain
terms that USYSA and its member clubs would not participate
in Elite's events in 2019. Id. ¶ 5. As a
consequence, Elite claims the defendant is in breach of
parties currently dispute the meaning of their Contract's
forum selection clause. The clause states, ECF 12-2 at 6
If a dispute arises, the parties will try in good faith to
settle it through mediation conducted by an independent
mediator to be mutually selected. The parties will share the
costs of the mediator equally. Each party will cooperate
fully and fairly with the mediator and will attempt to reach
a mutually satisfactory compromise to the dispute. If the
dispute is not resolved within 30 days after it is referred
to the mediator, either party may file a lawsuit in
Howard County in the State of Maryland.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and “may not
exercise jurisdiction absent a statutory basis.”
Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545
U.S. 546, 552 (2005). Further, a federal court must presume
that a case lies outside its limited jurisdiction unless and
until jurisdiction has been shown to be proper. United
States v. Poole, 531 F.3d 263, 274 (4th Cir. 2008)
(citing Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994)).
action filed in state court may be removed to federal court
if it is one over which the district court has original
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The burden of
demonstrating jurisdiction and the propriety of removal rests
with the removing party. See McBurney v. Cuccinelli,
616 F.3d 393, 408 (4th Cir. 2010); Robb Evans &
Assocs., LLC v. Holibaugh, 609 F.3d 359, 362 (4th Cir.
2010); Dixon v. Coburg Dairy, Inc., 369 F.3d 811,
816 (4th Cir. 2004). Therefore, “[i]f a plaintiff files
suit in state court and the defendant seeks to adjudicate the
matter in federal court through removal, it is the defendant
who carries the burden of alleging in his notice of removal
and, if challenged, demonstrating the court's
jurisdiction over the matter.” Strawn v. AT & T
Mobility LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 296 (4th Cir. 2008).
are required to construe removal statutes narrowly.
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108-09 (1941). This is because “the removal of
cases from state to federal court raises significant
federalism concerns.” Barbour v. Int'l
Union, 640 F.3d 599, 605 (4th Cir. 2011), abrogated
in part on other grounds by the Federal Courts
Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011, Pub. L. No.
112-63, 125 Stat. 758 (2011); see also Mulcahey v.
Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir.
1994) (“Because removal jurisdiction raises significant
federalism concerns, [courts] must strictly construe removal
jurisdiction.”) (citing Shamrock, 313 U.S. at
108-09). Indeed, a federal court “should construe
removal statutes narrowly, [with] any doubts . . . resolved
in favor of state court jurisdiction.”
Barbour, 640 F.3d at 617; see also Cohn v.
Charles, 857 F.Supp.2d 544, 547 (D. Md. 2012)
(“Doubts about the propriety of removal are to be
resolved in favor of remanding the case to state
in this circuit have held that a motion to remand from
federal to state court on the basis of a forum selection
clause is, in effect, a challenge to subject matter
jurisdiction under Rule 12(b)(1). See Nahigian v.
Juno-Loudoun, LLC, 661 F.Supp.2d 563, 565-66 (E.D. Va.
2009) (reviewing the plaintiff's motion to remand from
federal to state court under Rule 12(b)(1)); Garner v.
Supervalu, Inc., DKC 2008-0895, 2008 WL 11416969, at *1
(D. Md. June 4, 2008) (explaining that “[t]he motion to
remand challenges Defendant's ...