United States District Court, D. Columbia
September 1, 2005.
JOHN EDMOND, PAMELA LYLES, Plaintiffs,
JUDY NIGH, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: RICHARD LEON, District Judge
In this diversity action filed pro se, plaintiffs, currently
residing in the District of Columbia, are challenging their
eviction from a residence in Laurel, Maryland. They seek damages
exceeding $15 million. In their amended complaint, plaintiffs
name as defendants Property Manager Judy Nigh, Snowden Chase
Realty, Attorney Edward Maher, and the State of Maryland. Each
Maryland-based defendant has filed a motion to dismiss. Upon
consideration of the respective motions and oppositions thereto,
the Court will dismiss the complaint against the State of
Maryland and transfer the remainder of the complaint to the
United States District Court for the District of Maryland.
Maryland moves to dismiss on the ground of sovereign immunity.
The Eleventh Amendment provides in pertinent part that "[t]he
judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to
extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted
against one of the United States by Citizens of another State."
U.S. Const. amend. XI. This amendment immunizes a state from suit
in the federal courts, unless immunity is waived. See Keenan v.
Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority, 643 F. Supp. 324, 327-28
(D.D.C. 1986) (citing cases). A waiver is found "only where
stated `by the most express language or by such overwhelming
implications from the test as [will] leave no room for any other
reasonable construction.'" Morris v. Washington Metropolitan
Area Transit Authority, 781 F.2d 218, 221 (D.C. Cir. 1986)
(internal citations omitted). Plaintiffs have not cited to any
authority from which the Court may find a waiver of sovereign
immunity here. They cite a case for the proposition that a
municipality may be sued for constitutional violations,
Plaintiffs' Response to the Motion to Dismiss Filed by the State
of Maryland at 1, but a state is not a municipality. Pursuant to
Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3), the complaint against the State of
Maryland will be dismissed for lack of subject matter
Defendants Judy Nigh and Snowden Chase Realty move jointly to
dismiss the complaint on the grounds, among others, that the
Court lacks personal jurisdiction over them and that this venue
is improper for litigating the claims. These defendants are
correct on both points but the Court need only address one. As
stated in a previous order, under the applicable venue statute,
this action is properly brought "only in (1) a judicial district
where any defendant resides, if all defendants reside in the same
State, [or] (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part
of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or
a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action
is situated." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(a). As listed in the complaint,
all of the defendants either reside, work, or are otherwise
located in Maryland. Moreover, the property that is the subject
of this action is situated in Maryland. The Court therefore finds
this venue to be improper.*fn1 In a separate motion to dismiss,
defendant Edward Maher has not raised, and therefore has waived,
the procedural defenses. Plaintiffs allege, however, that Maher
conspired with Nigh and Snowden Chase Realty to effect the
eviction. Because the claim against Maher is intertwined with
those brought against defendants who have not consented to or
acquiesced in this Court's jurisdiction, the Court declines to
sever it. Rather than dismiss the case, however, the Court finds
it in the interests of justice to transfer what remains of it to
the District of Maryland. See 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) (authorizing
a district court to transfer a case "laying venue in the wrong . . .
district . . . if it be in the interest of justice").
For the preceding reasons, the State of Maryland's motion to
dismiss is granted. The remainder of the case is transferred to
the District of Maryland.*fn2
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