United States District Court, D. Columbia.
VALERIE MCMULLEN, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
SYNCHRONY BANK, et al., Defendants
VALERIE MCMULLEN, Plaintiff: Brendan James Klaproth, LEAD
ATTORNEY, KLAPROTH LAW PLLC, Washington, DC.
SYNCHRONY BANK, formerly known as GE CAPITAL RETAIL BANK,
doing business as CARECREDIT, Defendant: Gregory Thomas
Jaeger, LEAD ATTORNEY, STROOCK & STROOCK & LAVAN, Washington,
DC; Julia B. Strickland, Marcos D. Sasso, PRO HAC VICE,
STROOCK & STROOCK & LAVAN LLP, Los Angeles, CA.
JPMORGAN CHASE & CO., doing business as CHASE HEALTH ADVANCE,
Defendant: Eric C. Bosset, Robert D. Wick, LEAD ATTORNEYS,
COVINGTON & BURLING, LLP, Washington, DC.
WAYNE BULLEN, BULLEN WELLNESS, WASHINGTON CHIROPRACTIC,
Defendants: Sidney S. Friedman, LEAD ATTORNEY, WEINSTOCK,
FRIEDMAN & FRIEDMAN, P.A., Baltimore, MD.
OPINION & ORDER
BATES, United States District Judge.
period of Court-ordered jurisdictional discovery, plaintiff
Valerie McMullen's renewed motion for remand hinges upon
the answer to one question: were more than two-thirds of her
proposed class citizens of the District of Columbia at the
time this case became removable to federal court? If the
answer is yes, then her action is a local controversy that
must be litigated in the District of Columbia Superior Court,
where it was originally filed. McMullen urges the Court to
find this standard met and remand her case or, in the
alternative, prolong the period for jurisdictional discovery.
But the Court will do neither. McMullen has failed to show
that more than two-thirds of the proposed class were citizens
of the District of Columbia at the relevant time and, in the
Court's view, additional discovery would likely be
unhelpful. McMullen's renewed motion for remand will
therefore be denied.
brought this action in Superior Court against two individuals
(Wayne Bullen and Karim Steward), three of their companies
(Bullen Wellness, Washington Chiropractic, and One World
Fitness), and two banks (Synchrony Bank and JP Morgan Chase)
for their alleged participation in a fraudulent scheme
involving lines of healthcare-related credit. See Compl. [ECF
No. 1-1] at 2-3. After McMullen amended her initial complaint
to add class allegations, see Am. Compl. [ECF No. 1-2] at
14-15, Chase removed the case to this Court, see Notice of
Removal [ECF No. 1]. McMullen responded with a motion to
remand, arguing that the Court lacked jurisdiction and that,
even if it had jurisdiction, it would be barred from
exercising jurisdiction by the local controversy exception to
the Class Action Fairness Act. See Pl.'s Mot. for Remand
[ECF No. 12-1]. In a prior Memorandum Opinion, the Court
concluded that CAFA affords it jurisdiction over this case
and that all but one of the local controversy elements is
satisfied. See McMullen v. Synchrony Bank, 82
F.Supp.3d 133, 2015 WL 632212 (D.D.C. Feb. 13, 2015). But
because the Court was unable to discern whether two-thirds of
the putative class members were District of Columbia
citizens, it reserved final judgment on whether the local
controversy exception applies and ordered limited
jurisdictional discovery focused on that issue. See
Id. at *2.
Court's discovery Order instructed Synchrony and Chase to
submit declarations to McMullen indicating the total number
of accounts opened through Bullen, Steward, and their
affiliated companies; the date each account was opened; and
the name and last known address associated with each. See
Mar. 18, 2015 Order [ECF No. 35] at 2. They were also ordered
to produce a copy of each named individual's driver's
license " to the extent
such documents [were] already in their possession."
Id. The Order required the rest of the defendants to
produce a copy of the driver's license for each customer
who had received healthcare financing from the banks, and
" [a]ny other document" relating to those
customers' last known addresses. See id. at 1-2. In the
intervening months, Synchrony and Chase have provided
declarations identifying the last known addresses for 892
putative class members. See Pl.'s Renewed Mot. for Remand
[ECF No. 52-1] (Pl.'s Renewed Mot.) at 6. Wayne Bullen,
Bullen Wellness, and Washington Chiropractic (the Bullen
defendants) have produced the " patient records for
ninety-three . . . putative class members," all of whom
were included in the banks' declarations. Id. at
5-6. But Karim Steward and One World Fitness (the Steward
defendants) have " failed to produce a single
document." Id. at 7. None of the defendants
have produced driver's licenses.
renewed motion, McMullen argues that the evidence produced so
far weighs in favor of remand to Superior Court under the
local controversy exception. See Pl.'s Renewed Mot. at 5.
But in the event the Court disagrees, McMullen asks it to
reserve judgment on her motion ...