United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
PARIS A. ARTIS Plaintiff
T-MOBILE USA, INC., et al. Defendants
J. MESSITTE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Paris A. Artis (“Artis”), pro se, filed
this action in the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland on April 27, 2018 against Defendants
T-Mobile USA, Inc. (“T-Mobile”) and Receivables
Performance Management, Inc. (“RPM”). RPM filed a
Notice of Removal to this Court on August 20, 2018 (ECF No.
1). Artis has filed a Motion to Remand the case to the
Circuit Court for Prince George's County (ECF No. 8). For
the following reasons, the Motion is DENIED.
action arises out of a debt that Artis allegedly owes to
T-Mobile that T-Mobile retained RPM to collect. ECF No. 1-3
at ¶¶ 1-5. At some point in time prior to the
beginning of this case, Artis was a customer of T-Mobile, but
he alleges he “canceled his account . . . due to lousy
and non-responsive service.” Id. at ¶ 11.
Artis says he “paid his bill in full, with due prorated
reimbursement, at the time of cancellation.”
Id. However, he claims that after he canceled his
account, T-Mobile “continued to send billings to [him]
and added on charges for ‘unreturned
equipment.'” Id. at ¶ 13. According
to the Complaint, T-Mobile purportedly retained RPM to
collect Artis's debt, and that RPM incorrectly informed
credit bureaus that Artis owed T-Mobile $569.00 in unpaid
charges on his account. Id. at ¶¶ 4, 15.
Complaint before the Circuit Court for Prince George's
County, Maryland, Artis claimed Defendants violated the
Maryland Consumer Protection Act, the Maryland Consumer Debt
Collection Act, and committed various common law
transgressions. He named both T-Mobile and RPM as Defendants,
stating that they “are believed to be interstate
companies whose licenses to conduct business within the State
of Maryland is [sic] unknown but which status is demanded to
be made known to Plaintiff.” Id. at ¶ 10.
On or about June 29, 2018, Artis served a copy of the Summons
and Complaint by certified mail on David Abadir, Corporate
Counsel for Legal Affairs for T-Mobile, and upon Mark T.
Case, General Counsel for RPM. ECF No. 8-3. Both individuals
were served at addresses in Washington State. Id. at
3. Copies of the Summons and Complaint served by Artis were
noted as received on July 2, 2018. ECF No. 8-4.
August 7, 2018, Artis filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal
of Defendant T-Mobile in the Circuit Court case. ECF No. 9-1.
On August 20, 2018, RPM, as the only remaining Defendant in
the case, removed the case to this Court on the basis of
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction. ECF No. 1.
September 14, 2018, Artis filed the present Motion to Remand
the case to Circuit Court, arguing that RPM's removal was
untimely. ECF No. 8. RPM filed its Opposition on September
28, 2018, ECF No. 9, and Artis filed his Reply on October 12,
2018. ECF No. 10.
a notice of removal must be filed within the shorter period
of either “30 days after the receipt by the defendant,
through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial
pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such
action or proceeding is based” or “30 days after
the service of summons upon the defendant if such initial
pleading has then been filed in court and is not required to
be served on the defendant.” 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b)(1). However, if the initial pleadings in the case do
not suggest, on their face, that the case is removable, the
thirty-day-period for removal may be delayed until the
defendant has received, through appropriate service or
otherwise, “a copy of an amended pleading, motion,
order or other paper from which it may first be ascertained
that the case is one which is or has become removable.”
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3).
thirty-day window for removal begins when grounds for removal
first appear “within the four corners of the initial
pleading” or in subsequent documents. Lovern v.
General Motors Corp., 121 F.3d 160, 162-63 (4th Cir.
1997). Courts rely on the facial allegations in the pleadings
and other documents to determine when grounds for removal
become apparent, since an inquiry into the defendant's
subjective knowledge “could degenerate into a
mini-trial.” Id. The facial grounds for
removal may be based on “‘any information
received by the defendant, whether communicated in a formal
or informal manner.'” Northrop Grumman Tech.
Servs., Inc. v. DynCorp Int'l, LLC, 865 F.3d 181,
186-87 (4th Cir. 2017) (quoting Yarnevic v. Brink's,
Inc., 102 F.3d 753, 755 (4th Cir. 1996)). Therefore,
removal is timely if effected within thirty days of
ascertaining grounds for removal. See Lovern, 121
F.3d at 163 (holding that removal was timely, even though
defendant removed the case eighty-eight days after service of
the complaint, because defendant removed within thirty days
of receiving documents that established the complete
diversity of citizenship between the parties).
removed this case to federal district court based on
diversity jurisdiction, asserting that Artis was a citizen of
Maryland, RPM was a citizen of the State of Washington, and
the amount in controversy requirement was satisfied by the
amount in damages Artis is seeking. See ECF No. 1 at
2. The only subject matter jurisdiction that the Court could
exercise over the case is based on the diversity of the
parties, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, because the
Complaint only alleges violations of Maryland state law and
common law, not federal law. See ECF No. 1-3.
Diversity jurisdiction requires that the parties be
completely diverse-no defendant may be a citizen of the same
state as any plaintiff, and no defendant may be a citizen of
the forum state. See Hughes v. Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A., 617 Fed.Appx. 261, 263 (4th Cir. 2015) (citing
Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 564 U.S. 81, 89 (2005)).
purposes of determining jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship, a corporation “shall be deemed to be a
citizen of every State and foreign state by which it has been
incorporated and of the State or foreign state where it has
its principal place of business, ” except in direct
actions against an insurer. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1). In a
case with multiple defendants, a defendant who is not
resident in the forum state cannot remove an action to
federal court if the citizenship of any co-defendant, joined
by the plaintiff in good faith, destroys complete diversity,
regardless of whether the plaintiff has served the
co-defendant. See New York Life Ins. Co. v.
Deshotel, 142 F.3d 873, 883 (5th Cir. 1998).
argues that the thirty-day period for RPM to remove this case
to federal court began to run on July 2, 2018, when both
T-Mobile and RPM received a copy of the Complaint and Summons
by certified mail. Because RPM did not remove the case until
August 20, 2018, well after thirty days had elapsed since
receiving the ...