United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
DEBORAH A. WOODS, et al., Plaintiffs,
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
E. JOHNSTON. CHIEF JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiffs Deborah Woods and Thomas Woods'
Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 6.) For the reasons provided
herein, the Court GRANTS IN PART and
DENIES IN PART the motion and
REMANDS this case to the Circuit Court of
Kanawha County, West Virginia.
case arises from a refinanced residential mortgage loan
serviced by Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC, previously
d/b/a Centex Home Equity Co. LLC. Plaintiffs allege that
Defendant engaged in unlawful debt collection practices and
otherwise serviced the loan in ways that conflict with West
Virginia law. Plaintiffs are residents of West Virginia, (ECF
No. 6-2 at ¶¶ 2, 9), and Defendant is a corporation
existing under the laws of Delaware with its principal place
of business in Texas, (ECF No. 1 at 4).
originally filed their Complaint in the Circuit Court of
Kanawha County, West Virginia, on October 7, 2016. (ECF No.
1-1 at 3.) Almost a year-and-a-half later, Plaintiffs
successfully moved for permission to file a First Amended
Complaint, (id. at 19-20), which was docketed in the
state court on March 28, 2018. (ECF No. 6-2 at 1.) Defendant
removed the case to this Court on April 13, 2018. (ECF No.
1.) In the Notice of Removal, Defendant asserts that the sole
basis for this Court's subject-matter jurisdiction over
this case is diversity pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
(Id. at 3.) Further, Defendant states that the bad
faith exception to the one-year removal requirement under
§ 1446 should apply to satisfy the procedural conditions
for proper removal. (Id. at 7-9.)
filed the current Motion to Remand on May 9, 2018, in which
they assert that the one-year bar on removal after an action
is commenced in state court should prohibit this Court from
retaining jurisdiction. (ECF No. 7 at 4-7.) Plaintiffs
contend that the Court should reject Defendant's bad
faith argument as it is “asserted without actual
evidence of any deliberate or misleading act by
[P]laintiffs.” (Id. at 6.) They also move for
an award of attorney's fees and costs. (Id. at
7-8.) Defendant filed its response to the motion on May 23,
2018, (ECF No. 10), and Plaintiffs did not file a reply. As
such, the motion is briefed and ripe for adjudication.
III of the United States Constitution provides, in pertinent
part, that “[t]he judicial Power shall extend . . . to
Controversies . . . between Citizens of different
States.” U.S. Const. art. III, § 2. “The
district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is
between . . . citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C.
provided a right to remove a case from state to federal court
under 28 U.S.C. § 1441. This statute states, in relevant
Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress,
any civil action brought in a state court of which the
district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the
defendants, 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). Because removal of civil cases from
state to federal court infringes state sovereignty, federal
courts strictly construe the removal statute and resolve all
doubts in favor of remanding cases to state court. See
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100,
109 (1941); see also Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems.
Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994) (“Because
removal jurisdiction raises significant federalism concerns,
we must strictly construe removal jurisdiction.”
the removal statute, a defendant must file a notice of
removal within thirty days of receiving service of the
initial pleading or summons, or within thirty days after
receipt “of an amended pleading, motion, order or other
paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.” 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b). Nevertheless, when removal is based on diversity
jurisdiction, a defendant only has one year after the
action's commencement to initiate removal “unless
the district court finds that the plaintiff has acted in bad
faith in order to prevent a defendant from removing the
action” or “deliberately failed to disclose the
actual amount in controversy to prevent removal . . .
.” § 1446(c)(1), (3)(B); see also Watts
v. RMD Holdings, Ltd., No. 2:12-cv-02181, 2012 WL
3860738, at *1-2 (S.D. W.Va. Sept. 5, 2012). “[T]he
one-year limitation does not reset based on amendments made
to the original complaint.” Johnson v. HCR
Manorcare LLC, No. 1:15CV189, 2015 WL 6511301, at *4
(N.D. W.Va. Oct. 28, 2015) (citing Belcher v. Flagstaff
Bank, F.S.B., No. 2:12-cv-01211, 2012 WL 6195541, at *2
(S.D. W.Va. Dec. 12, 2012)). Importantly, the party asserting
federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proof. See
Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 73 (1996);
Landmark Corp. v. Apogee Coal Co., 945 F.Supp. 932,
935 (S.D. W.Va. 1996); see also Monk v. Werhane Enters.,
Ltd., No. 06-4230, 2006 WL 3918395, at *5 (E.D. La. Nov.
27, 2006) (noting that “[t]he equitable exception [to
the one-year limitation on removal] does not alter this
do not dispute that there is complete diversity between the
parties or that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000,
triggering this Court's basis of jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332. (See ECF No. 7.) Further,
Defendant does not argue that its Notice of Removal was filed
within a year from receiving the initial pleading in this
matter. (See ECF No. 1.) See also 28 U.S.C.
§ 1446(b)(3) (limiting the time within which to remove
pursuant to § 1332 to one year). Rather, the sole
dispute between the parties as to this motion is whether