United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. Hollander, United States District Judge.
February 19, 2019, in the Circuit Court for Garrett County,
Maryland, plaintiff Lighthouse Assets LLC filed suit against
defendants the Council of Unit Owners of Spring Meadows
Condominium Inc. (the “Council”) and
EquityExperts.org, L.L.C. (“EquityExperts”). ECF
1-1 at 7-13 and ECF 2 (the “Complaint”). The
Complaint contained two counts. The first count alleged that
defendants violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act
(“FDCPA”), as amended, 15 U.S.C. § 1692
et seq. The second count sought declaratory judgment
under Md. Code (2013 Repl. Vol., 2018 Supp.), § 3-406 of
the Courts and Judicial Proceedings Article, to the effect
that plaintiffs do not owe defendants the $12, 503.03 to
which defendants claim they are entitled.
timely removed the case to federal court on April 9, 2019,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. ECF 1-2
(the “Notice”). In particular, EquityExperts
asserted that the Complaint raises a federal question,
because it asserts violation of the FDCPA. Id.
¶¶ 2, 3.
2, 2019, Lighthouse filed a “First Amended
Complaint” (ECF 14, “Amended Complaint”),
adding William Weiss as a plaintiff. And, of import here, the
Amended Complaint abandoned the count brought under the
FDCPA, leaving only the count for declaratory judgment under
result, the suit no longer presents a federal question.
Moreover, there is no diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a), as the amount-in-controversy does not exceed
$75, 000. See ECF 1-1 at 5.
federal court has “an independent obligation to
determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even
when no party challenges it.” Hertz Corp. v.
Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010). On May 20, 2019, I held
a telephone status conference with the parties, in which I
raised with counsel the matter of the Court's subject
matter jurisdiction. See Docket. The next day,
EquityExperts moved to dismiss the Amended Complaint,
pursuant to the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine. ECF 20.
28 U.S.C. § 1367(a), a district court is authorized to
resolve state law claims under the grant of supplemental
jurisdiction. Pursuant to § 1367(c)(3), however, a
district court “may decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over a claim . . . if . . . the district court
has dismissed all claims over which it has original
Shanaghan v. Cahill, 58 F.3d 106 (4th Cir. 1995),
the Fourth Circuit recognized that under § 1367(c)(3),
“trial courts enjoy wide latitude in determining
whether or not to retain jurisdiction over state claims when
federal claims have been extinguished.” See also
ESAB, 685 F.3d at 394 (“Section 1367(c) recognizes
courts' authority to decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction in limited circumstances, including . . . where
the court dismisses the claims over which it has original
jurisdiction.”); Hinson v. Northwest Fin. S.
Carolina, Inc., 239 F.3d 611, 616 (4th Cir. 2001)
(stating that, “under the authority of 28 U.S.C. §
1367(c), authorizing a federal court to decline to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction, a district court has inherent
power to dismiss the case . . . provided the conditions set
forth in § 1367(c) for declining to exercise
supplemental jurisdiction have been met”).
See, e.g., Ramsay v. Sawyer Property
Management of Maryland, LLC, 948 F.Supp.2d 525, 537 (D.
Md. 2013) (declining to exercise supplemental jurisdiction
over plaintiff's state law claims after dismissing FDCPA
claims); Int'l Ass'n of Machinists &
Aerospace Workers v. Werner-Masuda, 390 F.Supp.2d 479,
500 (D. Md. 2005) (“Because the court will dismiss the
claims over which it has original jurisdiction, the court
will decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the
remaining state law claims.”).
exercising this discretion, the Supreme Court has instructed
federal courts to “consider and weigh . . . the values
of judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity in
order to decide whether to exercise jurisdiction over . . .
pendent state-law claims.” Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v.
Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 (1988). The Court has also
said: “Needless decisions of state law should be
avoided both as a matter of comity and to promote justice
between the parties, by procuring for them a surer-footed
reading of applicable law.” United Mine Workers of
America v. Gibbs, 383 U.S. 715, 726 (1966).
Amended Complaint, plaintiffs acknowledge that the Court may
decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over this suit
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). Id. ¶ 8.
Additionally, plaintiffs state that they “do not feign
any appreciable preference as to whether such hearing comes
in federal or state court.” Id. ¶ 8.
Rather, they “defer to this Honorable Court's
wishes, which may be exercised sua sponte[.]”
case has merely been pending in this Court for six weeks. In
the absence of a viable claim that comes within federal
question jurisdiction, I decline to exercise supplemental
jurisdiction over the remaining state law claim. Therefore,