United States District Court, D. Maryland
AYANA ANDREWS, Parent & Next Friend of S.H., a minor, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, et al., Defendants. MONICA HARLEY, Parent & Next Friend of D.W., a minor, Plaintiff,
BOARD OF EDUCATION OF PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY, et al., Defendants. JANE DOE #12, Individually and as Parent & Next Friend of JOHN DOE #9, a minor, Plaintiffs,
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants. JANE DOE #13, Individually and as Parent & Next Friend of JOHN DOE #10, a minor, Plaintiffs,
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants. JOHN DOE #7 AND JANE DOE #11, Individually and as Parents & Next Friends of JOHN DOE #8, a minor, Plaintiffs,
PRINCE GEORGE'S COUNTY BOARD OF EDUCATION, et al., Defendants.
J. MESSITTE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Memorandum Opinion applies to five separate civil cases, all
of which concern Defendant Deonte Carraway's alleged
sexual acts with minor children while employed at Sylvania
Woods Elementary School. In separate criminal proceedings in
federal and state court, Carraway pled guilty to crimes
including child sex abuse, and is now incarcerated in federal
five civil suits are brought by the parents and next friends
of minor children Carraway is said to have harmed and by the
children themselves. Notably, there are at least nine similar
cases involving Carraway in the Circuit Court for Prince
George's County that have been consolidated for the
purpose of the state proceedings. The cases presently before
this Court were originally before the Circuit Court for
Prince George's County, but were removed here by
Defendant Prince George's County Board of Education
(“Board of Education”). Plaintiffs in each of the
five cases have filed Motions to Remand to state court and
the Board of Education has responded. The motions are fully
briefed, and no hearing is necessary. See Loc. R.
following reasons, the Motions to Remand are
GRANTED as to Civ. No. PJM 19-1307, Civ. No.
PJM 19-1314, and Civ. No. PJM 19-1368 and
DENIED as to Civ. No. PJM 19-706 and Civ.
No. PJM 19-709.
Removal and Remand
a defendant may remove to federal court any civil action
brought in state court if the federal court would have had
original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Here federal
jurisdiction is properly grounded in federal question
jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, since each of the cases
includes at least one claim under federal law. Accordingly, none
of the Parties dispute that this Court has proper subject
Plaintiffs in all five cases do, however, claim that their
respective cases should be remanded because of a procedural
defect in the removal process. More specifically, they claim
that the Board of Education failed to obtain Carraway's
consent for the removal and therefore failed to comply with
the requirement that “[a]ll defendants who have been
properly joined and served must join in or consent to the
removal of the action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A);
see also Hartford Fire Ins. Co. v. Harleysville Mut. Ins.
Co., 736 F.3d 255, 259 (4th Cir. 2013)
(“The Supreme Court has construed these statutes to
require all defendants in a case to join in or consent to
removal, creating the so-called ‘rule of
unanimity.'”). Indeed, the Parties agree that
Carraway did not consent to the removal.
the Board of Education argues that Carraway need not consent
to the removal because he is a “nominal party”
and is therefore excepted from the general requirement that
all defendants must join in the removal. The Court disagrees.
whether a party is nominal is a straightforward inquiry based
upon the particular facts of the case and focused on whether
the non-consenting party, e.g. Carraway, has an interest in
the outcome of the case. Hartford Fire, 736 F.3d at
260-61. Moreover, the Fourth Circuit has advised that
“the word nominal should be taken to mean what a good
dictionary says it should mean: ‘trifling' or
‘existing in name only.'” Id., 260
(citing Black's Law Dictionary 1148 (9th ed. 2009)).
Clearly Carraway is not a nominal party. He is allegedly the
primary wrongdoer, a central figure in each of the cases, and
potentially subject to substantial money judgments.
Accordingly, the removal in each case was procedurally
Cases Civ. No. PJM 19-1307, Civ. No. PJM 19-1314, and Civ.
No. PJM 19-1368
this reason,  and since the Motions to Remand were
timely filed in Civ. No. PJM 19-1307, Civ. No. PJM 19-1314,
and Civ. No. PJM 19-1368,  the Motions to Remand in these cases
Cases Civ. No. PJM 19-706 and Civ. No. PJM 19-709
other hand, the Motions to Remand in Civ. No. PJM 19-706 and
Civ. No. PJM 19-709 were not timely filed.
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), which governs the procedure after
removal, states: “A motion to remand the case on the
basis of any defect other than lack of subject matter
jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of
the notice of removal under section 1446(a).” The
“[f]ailure of all defendants to join in the removal
petition does not implicate the court's subject matter
jurisdiction. Rather, it is merely an error in the removal
process. As a result, a plaintiff who fails to make a timely
objection waives the objection.” Payne ex rel.
Estate of Calzada v. Brake, 4 ...