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McFarland v. Capital One, N.A.

United States District Court, D. Maryland

October 10, 2019

ANTHONY McFARLAND, On Behalf of Himself and All Others Similarly Situated, Plaintiff,
CAPITAL ONE, N.A., d/b/a Capital One Auto Finance, Defendant.



         Plaintiff Anthony McFarland has filed a putative class action against Defendant Capital One, N.A. ("Capital One") in the Circuit Court for Prince George's County, Maryland, alleging that in financing the purchase of vehicles, Capital One has charged and collected convenience fees in violation of state law. After Capital One removed the case to federal court, this Court granted McFarland's Motion to Remand and ordered the case remanded to state court. Capital One has since appealed this ruling to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. Pending before this Court is Capital One's Motion to Stay Pending Appeal. ECF No. 37. For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Stay will be DENIED.


         The Court set forth the factual background of this case in its Memorandum Opinion of May 31, 2019, see McFarland v. Capital One, N.A., No. TDC-18-2148, 2019 WL 2330872, at *1 (D. Md. May 31, 2019), and so recounts here only those facts relevant to the pending Motion. In that opinion, the Court held that although Capital One had removed this case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d) (2018), the case did not meet CAFA's minimum amount-in-controversy requirement, such that the Court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over it. McFarland, 2019 WL 2330872, at *3. After the Court remanded the case to state court, Capital One filed a petition in the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c), seeking leave to appeal this Court's remand order. The Fourth Circuit has since "opened a new civil appeal and consolidated Capital One's Petition with briefing on the merits of the appeal." Mot. Stay at 4, ECF No. 37-1. Capital One now seeks a stay of this Court's remand order until the Fourth Circuit decides its appeal.


         I. Reply Brief

         As a preliminary matter, the Court notes that on September 4, 2019, Capital One filed a reply brief on the Motion. On July 17, 2019, however, after a case management conference during which Capital One agreed that no reply brief was necessary, the Court issued an Order setting the briefing schedule and stating, "There shall be no reply." Order at 1, ECF No. 38. Where Capital One filed its reply brief in violation of this Order and made no effort to seek either an amendment of that Order or leave to file a reply brief notwithstanding the Order, the Court will strike Capital One's reply brief.

         II. Jurisdiction

         At the outset, Capital One asserts that this Court has jurisdiction to issue a stay of its remand order. Although McFarland does not contest this claim, federal courts have an independent responsibility to ensure that they have jurisdiction before proceeding to the merits. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523 U.S. 83, 94 (1998). The Court thus begins by addressing whether it has jurisdiction to stay a remand order in the first place.

         Generally, federal jurisdiction ends once a case is remanded to state court. Three J Farms, Inc. v. Alton Box Bd. Co., 609 F.2d 112, 115 (4th Cir. 1979). Because remand orders are generally not appealable, see 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d), issuing such an order ends the involvement of the federal courts and allows the state court to assume control over the case, id. § 1447(c). Consequently, federal district courts divest themselves of jurisdiction over a case by issuing a remand order and mailing it to the relevant state court. Shapiro v. Logistec USA Inc., 412 F.3d 307, 312 (2d Cir. 2005).

         However, CAFA makes this general rule inapplicable to orders remanding class actions to state courts. It carves these orders out of § 1447(d)'s appellate prohibition and expressly grants jurisdiction to federal courts of appeals to hear appeals of class action remand orders. 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c). Because such a remand order does not necessarily end the involvement of the federal courts, courts have generally found that federal district courts retain jurisdiction to stay their remand orders pending appeals of those orders. See, e.g., Morgan v. Gay, 471 F.3d 469, 471 (3d Cir. 2006) (noting that the district court granted a motion to stay an order to remand a class action); Manier v. Medtech Prods., Inc., 29 F.Supp.3d 1284, 1287 (S.D. Cal. 2014) ("The Court finds that it is appropriate for the Court to address a motion to stay pending appeal of a remand order as Congress has specifically allowed these remand orders to be appealable."); Coffey v. Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold, Inc., No. 08-0640-HE, 2009 WL 10672022, *l-2 (W.D. Okla. May 8, 2009) (finding that because CAFA authorizes appellate review of a remand order, the district court had authority to stay the remand order). The Court therefore holds that it has jurisdiction to stay its remand order pending appeal.

         III. Motion to Stay

         The fact that this Court has the power to stay its remand order does not mean that Capital One is entitled to such a stay. "A stay is not a matter of right," but rather is "an exercise of judicial discretion," the propriety of which "is dependent upon the circumstances of the particular case." Nken v. Holder, 556 U.S. 418, 433 (2009) (citation omitted). As both parties agree, the issuance of a stay is subject to four separate requirements: (1) whether the stay applicant has made a strong showing of a likelihood of success on the merits; (2) whether the applicant will be irreparably injured absent a stay; (3) whether issuance of the stay will substantially injure the other parties; and (4) whether a stay is in the public interest. Id. at 434. The party seeking the stay has the burden to establish that each factor has been met. Id. at 433-34 (citation omitted).

         A. ...

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