United States District Court, D. Maryland
RICHARD D. BENNETT UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
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.)
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
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.)
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.)
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(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.
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 ...