United States District Court, D. Maryland, Southern Division
W. GRIMM UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Complaint for negligence filed in the Circuit Court of
Maryland for Montgomery County against Defendants Marriott
International, Inc. (“Marriott”) and Braemar
Hotels & Resorts, Inc. (“Braemar”), Plaintiff
Pasquale Scialdone alleged that he was bitten by bedbugs
while staying at the Marriott Courtyard Downtown in
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Compl., ECF No. 1-2. Defendants
removed the case to this Court based on diversity
jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. Scialdone then filed a Motion to
Remand, and Defendants responded with a Motion to Transfer
Venue to the United States District Court for the Eastern
District of Pennsylvania. ECF Nos. 4, 12. Because both
named Defendants are citizens of Maryland and Scialdone filed
suit in Maryland state court, this case was not properly
removed to this Court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(b)(2). Nor could it have been removed directly to the
U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
from Maryland state court. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). Accordingly, Defendants' Motion to Transfer
Venue which seeks to achieve what Defendants could not have
achieved directly from state court, is DENIED, and
Scialdone's Motion to Remand is GRANTED.
Jurisdiction, and Remand
plaintiff files a civil action in a state court, a defendant
has a limited right to remove the case to a district court of
the United States. First, the civil action must be one in
which “the district courts of the United States have
original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
Relevantly here, federal district courts have diversity
jurisdiction over “all civil actions where the matter
in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000 . . . and
is between - (1) citizens of different States; (2) citizens
of a state and citizens of a foreign state . . . .” 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). “The basic purpose of diversity
jurisdiction is to enable ‘access to an unbiased court
to protect [a defendant] from parochialism.'”
Medish v. Johns Hopkins Health Sys. Corp., 272
F.Supp.3d 719, 724 (D. Md. 2017) (quoting Ziady v.
Curley, 396 F.2d 873, 875 (4th Cir. 1968)). Second, the
action only may be removed “to the district court of
the United States for the district and division embracing the
place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). In this instance, that division is the Southern
Division of the District of Maryland.
a defendant's right to remove a civil action to federal
court from state court is not absolute. Pursuant to the
“forum defendant rule, ” a civil action that
otherwise would be removable solely on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction “may not be removed if any of the parties
in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a
citizen of the State in which such action is brought.”
28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). This rule exists because, when a
defendant is a citizen of the forum state, that defendant
does not risk exposure to the local bias that federal
diversity jurisdiction seeks to avoid; rather, the defendant
is a local itself within the plaintiff's choice of forum.
Reimold v. Gokaslan, 110 F.Supp.3d 641, 642 (D. Md.
2015) (stating that § 1441(b)(2) “recognizes that
there is no need to protect out-of-state defendants from
local prejudice ‘where the defendant is a citizen of
the state in which the case is brought'”) (quoting
Lively v. Wild Oats Mkts., Inc., 456 F.3d 933, 940
(9th Cir. 2006)).
forum defendant improperly removes a case over which the
federal court has diversity jurisdiction, the removal is
procedurally improper but the Court nonetheless has subject
matter jurisdiction. Medish, 272 F.Supp.3d at 724;
see also 14B Charles Alan Wright, et al.,
Fed. Prac. & Proc. § 3721 (4th ed. 2009)
(noting that the phrase “removal jurisdiction” is
misleading because “removal is not a kind of
jurisdiction . . . rather, it is a means of bringing cases
within the federal courts' original jurisdiction into
those courts”). Thus, “the forum defendant rule
is waivable, which leaves the choice of forum in the
out-of-state plaintiff's hands”; the plaintiff may
accept the forum or file a motion to remand within thirty
days, in accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Medish, 272 F.Supp.3d at 724.
the federal court has subject matter jurisdiction, statutory
requirements for removal should be strictly construed because
of overarching federalism concerns. Mulcahey v.
Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151
(4th Cir. 1994) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941)).
Not only does the language of the Act of 1887 evidence the
Congressional purpose to restrict the jurisdiction of the
federal courts on removal, but the policy of the successive
acts of Congress regulating the jurisdiction of federal
courts is one calling for the strict construction of such
legislation . . . The power reserved to the states under the
Constitution to provide for the determination of
controversies in their courts, may be restricted only by the
action of Congress . . . ‘Due regard for the rightful
independence of state governments . . . requires that
[federal courts] scrupulously confine their own jurisdiction
to the precise limits which the statute has defined.'
Shamrock Oil, 313 U.S. at 108-09 (quoting Healy
v. Ratta, 292 U.S. 263, 270 (1934)). The unambiguous
text of the forum defendant rule manifests Congress's
“clear intention to restrict removal and to resolve all
doubts about the propriety of removal in favor of retained
state court jurisdiction.” Medish, 272
F.Supp.3d at 722 (quoting Marshall v. Manville Sales
Corp., 6 F.3d 229, 232 (4th Cir. 1993)).
Court has diversity jurisdiction: the complete diversity of
the parties and minimum amount in controversy is not
disputed. Compl. ¶¶ 1-3; id. at 17
(Scialdone is a citizen of Canada; Marriott is a citizen of
Delaware and Maryland; Braemar is a citizen of Maryland;
Scialdone seeks damages in excess of $75, 000); Defs.'
Mem. 8 (same); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). And, this Court is
the federal court to which a case may be removed from the
Circuit Court for Montgomery County, Maryland. See
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
as Defendants acknowledge, the forum defendant rule
procedurally bars the case from being properly removed to
this Court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2);
Defs.' Mem. 8. Thus, the “choice of forum” is
plaintiff's, and Scialdone chose to file a Motion to
Remand, to return to state court. See Medish, 272
F.Supp.3d at 724 (“[T]he forum defendant rule serves to
prevent an in-state defendant . . . from stymieing a
plaintiff's choice of forum.”). Even if the Court
may transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a),
to do so would allow Defendants effectively to remove the
case to a federal court to which they could not have removed
it when Scialdone originally filed it in Maryland state
court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Mindful of the
procedural gatekeeping requirements of § 1441(b) and the
significant federalism concerns, I will not grant
Defendants' Motion to Transfer under these
circumstances. See Shamrock Oil, 313 U.S. at
108-09; Mulcahey, 29 F.3d at 151. Accordingly, I
will grant Scialdone's Motion to Remand. See
Medish, 272 F.Supp.3d at 724.
Scialdone's Motion to Remand to the Circuit Court of
Maryland for Montgomery County, ECF No. 4, is GRANTED and the
Defendants' Motion to Transfer Venue, ECF No. 12, is
DENIED. Scialdone's Motion to ...