United States District Court, N.D. West Virginia, Martinsburg
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
M. GROH CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
pending before the Court is the Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand [ECF No. 6], filed on March 1, 2017. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court GRANTS the
April 30, 2015, the Plaintiffs filed a complaint against the
above-named Defendants in the Circuit Court of Harrison
County, West Virginia (“the 2015 case”), alleging
mortgage loan servicing abuse. ECF No. 1-1 at 4-15.
Thereafter, on January 11, 2016, the Plaintiffs filed a
complaint against Defendant Roundpoint Mortgage Servicing
Corporation (“Roundpoint”), individually, in the
Circuit Court of Berkeley County, West Virginia (“the
2016 case”), alleging mortgage loan servicing abuse
occurring after initiation of the Harrison County
case. ECF No. 1-3 at 32-36. Both complaints are
accompanied by a stipulation maintaining that all damages
amount to no greater than $74, 999.99. On February 25, 2016,
Defendants Roundpoint and Queen's Park Oval Asset Holding
Trust (“Queen's Park”) filed a motion to
transfer the 2015 case to the Circuit Court of Berkeley
County, West Virginia. ECF No. 1-3 at 21-37. The motion was
granted and the case was transferred on May 13, 2016. ECF No.
1-4 at 19-25.
18, 2016, Defendants Roundpoint and Queen's Park filed a
motion to consolidate the 2015 and 2016 cases. ECF No. ECF
No. 1-4 at 29-35. More than five months later, on January 13,
2017, the Circuit Court of Berkeley County granted the motion
and consolidated the 2015 case into the 2016 case. ECF No.
1-6 at 48-55. The consolidated case was then removed to this
Court on January 30, 2017,  and on March 1, 2017, the
Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to remand.
courts have limited jurisdiction over cases based upon state
law claims. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Owen
Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365,
370-74 (1978); Davis v. Pak, 856 F.2d 648, 652 (4th
Cir. 1988). For a district court to contemplate issues of
state law, diversity jurisdiction must exist. Additionally,
if not originally brought in federal court, a state cause of
action based upon diversity may not be removed more than one
year after its commencement, “unless the district court
finds that the plaintiff has acted in bad faith in order to
prevent [removal].” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c). It is
important that removal jurisdiction be strictly construed and
all doubts regarding its existence resolved in favor of
remand. Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29
F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994).
Plaintiffs argue, based upon the Defendants' untimely
removal, that this matter must be remanded to state court. In
response, the Defendants contend that the one-year limitation
period under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c) may be extended when
required by equity or when failure to remove within the
one-year period is a result of the opposing party's bad
faith. Both parties agree that the limitations period in this
case runs from January 11, 2016: the day on which the
complaint against Roundpoint was filed in Berkeley County
Circuit Court. It is also undisputed that the Defendants
filed their notice of removal on January 30, 2017-nineteen
days past the one-year deadline.
some courts recognize an equitable exception to the one-year
limitation period in § 1446(c), there is no indication
that the Fourth Circuit has adopted this approach. See
Hamilton v. Ocwen Loan Servicing, LLC, Civil Action No.
9:12-cv-0311-PMD, 2013 WL 499159, at *4 (D.S.C. Feb. 7,
2013); Williamson v. Gravely, Civil Action No.
5:10CV38, 2010 WL 2836122, at *4 (N.D. W.Va. July 19, 2010).
Moreover, bad faith must be evinced by more than mere
speculation. Here, the Defendants aver that the
Plaintiffs' opposition to consolidation of the state
court cases was “without any merit and arguably in bad
faith.” ECF No. 8 at 6. However, a review of the
response reveals that the 2016 complaint was based upon
Defendant Roundpoint's illegal conduct occurring after
the 2015 case was filed, which the Plaintiffs described as
“new and separate misconduct.” ECF No. 1-4 at 39.
According to the Plaintiffs, in light of Defendant
Roundpoint's further misconduct, they “were forced
to file an additional suit, asserting their new and unrelated
claims.” ECF No. 1-4 at 39. It appears that the
Defendants' frustration stems from the state court's
delay in ruling on the motion to consolidate. Yet, there is
no evidence attributing the delay to the Plaintiffs. Thus,
the Defendants' threadbare allegation of bad faith,
without more, does not justify extension of §
1446(c)'s one-year limitation period.
upon the foregoing, the Court GRANTS the
Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand [ECF No. 6] and
ORDERS this case REMANDED
to the Circuit Court of Berkeley County, West Virginia. The
Court declines to award costs and fees associated with
removal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Clerk is DIRECTED to strike this case from
the active docket and transmit copies of this Order to all
counsel of record and the ...