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Cherry v. One Stop Auto Parts, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

May 17, 2019

LATARSHA CHERRY, et al, Plaintiffs,
v.
ONE STOP AUTO PARTS, INC, et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Latarsha Cherry and Albert Brown ("Plaintiffs"), filed this purported class action lawsuit in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, against One Stop Auto Parts, Inc. ("One Stop"), Ferdinand F. Greeff ("Greeff'), and Schrier, Tolin & Wagman, LLC ("STW") (collectively, "Defendants"), for damages and injunctive relief related to unlicensed lending and other actions in violation of consumer protection laws. (Compl. ¶ 1, ECF No. 1-1.) Defendants timely removed the case to this Court on October 4, 2018, asserting that Plaintiffs' legal theory related to excessive "interest" is premised on a federal statute, the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C § 1601 et. seq. (Removal ¶¶ 5-6, 14-15, ECF No. 1.)

         Pending before this Court is Plaintiffs [sic] Motion to Remand the Case to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. (ECF No. 3.) The parties' submissions have been reviewed, and no hearing is necessary. See Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). Plaintiffs also seek sanctions for improper removal, including costs and attorneys' fees under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). (Id.) For the reasons that follow, this Court shall GRANT Plaintiffs' request to remand this case to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland, but shall DENY Plaintiffs' request for sanctions, costs, and attorneys' fees.

         BACKGROUND

         The facts contained herein are taken largely from Plaintiffs' Complaint and are viewed in the Plaintiffs' favor in light of the Defendants' removal of this action from state court. One Stop is an automobile repair shop located in Baltimore, Maryland that primarily served economically-depressed customers in east and west Baltimore. (Compl. ¶ 3, ECF No. 1 -1.) Defendant Ferdinand Greeff is the owner, and Defendant Schrier, Tolin & Wagman, LLC ("STW") is One Stop's legal counsel. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 9-10.)

         One Stop extended loans to its customers to facilitate financing the repairs it performed. (Id. at ¶ 4.) Plaintiffs allege that the loans had hidden and onerous financing terms with usurious interest rates. (Id.) Plaintiffs also allege that One Stop never held the required licensing for acting as a lender. (Id. at ¶¶ 4, 15-17.) One Stop, through its counsel STW, takes aggressive collection efforts to collect on the loans that One Stop issued and has filed hundreds of collection lawsuits against its former customers. (Id. at ¶¶ 5, 8, 10, 23.)

         Plaintiffs purport to represent a class of "[a]ll Maryland consumers who, since August 3, 2012, entered into a Retail Installment Contract with One Stop." (Id. at ¶ 38.) They also purport to represent a subclass of class members "who had judgments entered against them and in favor of One Stop based on the Retail Installment Contract with One Stop that was entered into since August 3, 2012." (Id.) Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, Maryland on July 17, 2018, alleging six causes of action:

• Count One: Declarator}'Judgment to Subclass, under the Maryland Declaratory Judgment Act, Md. Code Ann., Cts. & Jud. Pro. § 3-406.
• Count Two: Usury - Defendants One Stop and Greeff. Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 12-103, 12-105(c)(3).
• Count Three: CLEC[1](as to Defendants One Stop and Greeff only). In the alternative. (Compl. ¶ 64, ECF No. 1-1.) Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 12-l008(b), (d). CLEC requires applicable disclosures under the federal Truth in Lending Act and its regulations. Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 12-1014(b). (Compl. ¶ 68, ECF No. 1-1.)
• Count Four: Maryland Consumer Debt Collection Act. Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 14-201(b), (c); 14-202(8).
• Count Five: Maryland Consumer Protection Act (as to Defendants One Stop and Greeff only). Md. Code Ann., Com. Law § 13-101 et seq.
• Count Six: Unjust Enrichment.

         Defendants removed the case to this Court on October 4, 2018, asserting that the case arises under federal law, and Plaintiffs promptiy responded on October 8, 2018 with the instant motion to remand. (Removal ¶¶ 5-6, 14-15, ECF No. 1; Mot, ECF No. 3.) Defendant STW then filed a Motion to Dismiss to Compel Arbitration on October 9, 2018 based on the arbitration clause in the loan documents. (Mot. Dismiss, ECF No. 5.) On October 10, 2018, Defendants, One Stop and Greeff, filed a Motion to Dismiss or Stay Pending Arbitration. (ECF No. 7.) On October 18, 2018, this Court granted the Consent Motion Regarding Plaintiffs' Opposition to Defendants' Motion to Dismiss and to ...


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