United States District Court, D. Maryland
J. HAZEL United States District Judge
Stellar Investment Trust initiated this wrongful detainer
action in the District Court of Maryland for Montgomery
County (“State Court”). ECF No. 1-2. Following
removal of this action to this Court by Defendant Jeffrey K.
Diamond, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand. ECF No. 5. No
hearing is necessary to resolve the pending motion.
See Loc. R. 105.6 (D. Md. 2016). For the following
reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is granted.
December 14, 2018, Defendant's title and interest in real
property located at 18 Stapleford Hall Court, Potomac,
Maryland 20854 (“the Property”) was extinguished
pursuant to a ratified foreclosure sale. See
O'Sullivan v. Diamond, No. 417984V (Mont. Cty. Cir.
Ct.). On April 9, 2019, Plaintiff purchased the Property from
the foreclosure purchaser. ECF No. 5-2. Because Defendant and
his wife refused to vacate and surrender possession of the
Property, Plaintiff filed a Complaint for Wrongful Detainer
against both parties in State Court pursuant to § 14-132
of Maryland's Real Property Code. ECF No. 1-2. Defendant
and his wife were served by mailing and posting, and not by
personal service, so the State Court's jurisdiction was
limited to in rem jurisdiction. ECF No. 5-4. On June
7, 2019, Defendant filed an Answer and purported to file
counterclaims, ECF No. 5-5, which are prohibited in wrongful
detainer actions, see Md. Code. Ann., Real Prop.
§ 14-132. At trial on July 3, 2019, the State Court
entered a possession judgment in favor of Plaintiff and set
an appeal bond at $130, 000. ECF No. 5-3 at 4.
7, 2019, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal in this Court.
ECF No. 1-1.Defendant's Civil Cover Sheet stated
that this case was filed under “Constitution,
Registered Securities, Protection of Tenant in Foreclosure,
” and the cause of action was “[u]sing federal
registered security as a ‘deed' to defraud
homeowner from title to residence he possesses.” ECF
No. 1. In response to the Standing Order Concerning Removal,
Defendant asserted that “[he] was never officially
served with anything remotely resembling a summons in
Wrongful Detainer, ” and that “this case is based
upon several federal questions, including the fact that the
Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA) is an indispensable
party to this case and the ‘deed' on which the
Plaintiff relies is in truth a Federally registered stock
certificate complete with CUSIP number.” ECF No. 4-1
¶¶ 1, 2. On August 5, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
Motion to Remand. ECF No. 5. The Motion was served on
Defendant's counsel through the Court's CM/ECF System
and via first class mail, postage prepaid. Id. at 3.
Defendant did not file a response.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and a district
court must remand any case in which it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); see also In re
Blackwater Sec. Consulting, LLC, 460 F.3d 576, 584 (4th
Cir. 2006). Therefore, a party seeking adjudication in
federal court must “demonstrate the federal court's
jurisdiction over the matter.” Strawn v. AT&T
Mobility LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 296 (4th Cir. 2008).
“Where a defendant seeks to remove a case to federal
court, the defendant must simply allege subject matter
jurisdiction in his notice of removal.” Cunningham
v. Twin City Fire Ins. Co., 669 F.Supp.2d 624, 627 (D.
Md. 2009). “But if the plaintiff challenges removal in
a motion to remand, then the burden is on the defendant to
‘demonstrat[e] that removal jurisdiction is
proper.'” Id. (quoting Strawn,
530 F.3d at 297) (emphasis in original). Here, Defendant has
not met his burden because he has not responded to
Plaintiff's removal challenge and the Court lacks both
federal question and diversity jurisdiction.
question jurisdiction arises only from “those cases in
which a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that
federal law creates the cause of action or that the
plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on
resolution of a substantial question of federal law.”
Franchise Tax Bd. of the State of Cal. v. Constr.
Laborers Vacation Trust for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 27-28
(1983). This case involves no such causes of action; rather,
this case is an in rem wrongful detainer action
arising under Maryland state law, involving property located
in Maryland. Moreover, even if, as Defendant seems to imply
on the Civil Cover Sheet and in his response to the Standing
Order Concerning Removal, Defendant has federal defenses or
counterclaims to Plaintiffs' wrongful detainer action,
these are not sufficient to support removal based on federal
question jurisdiction. See Holmes Grp., Inc. v. Vornado
Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831 (2002)
(stating that a counterclaim “cannot serve as the basis
for [federal question] jurisdiction”); Cook v.
Georgetown Steel Corp., 770 F.2d 1272, 1275 (4th Cir.
1985) (“A federal defense to a state cause of action is
not sufficient to invoke federal
jurisdiction…”). The Court therefore lacks
federal question jurisdiction and removal on this ground was
attempt to remove this action based on diversity jurisdiction
is similarly improper. District courts have jurisdiction over
civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds $75,
000 and is between citizens of different states. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Here, it is undisputed that both
Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of Maryland. As a
result, the Court lacks diversity jurisdiction and remand is
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is
granted. This action is remanded to the District Court of
Maryland for Montgomery County. A separate Order shall issue.
 Pin cites to documents filed on the
Court's electronic filing system (CM/ECF) refer to the
page numbers ...