United States District Court, District of Columbia
GEARY S. SIMON, et al., Plaintiffs
BRANDON MITCHELL, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
RUDOLPH CONTRERAS United States District Judge
to the Superior Court for the District of Columbia; Denying
Defendant’s Motion to Remand as Moot
Geary S. Simon and Summer Simon filed this action in the
Superior Court for the District of Columbia on May 20, 2016,
seeking a temporary restraining order and a permanent
injunction against Defendant Brandon Mitchell. See
Compl. ¶ 2. In brief, Plaintiffs allege that Mr.
Mitchell engaged in harassing behavior and they filed suit
seeking a temporary restraining order. Id.
Plaintiffs’ Complaint does not include any federal
causes of action and states that jurisdiction in the Superior
Court is founded on D.C. Code § 11-921. Id.
¶ 2. The Superior Court granted Plaintiffs’
request for a temporary restraining order on May 27, 2016,
see Superior Court Record at 36-37, and issued a
permanent injunction on June 10, 2016, see Id . at
21. During the course of the Superior Court litigation,
Defendant Mr. Mitchell also filed a motion seeking a
permanent injunction against Mr. Simon. Id. at 14.
On July 6, 2016, Plaintiffs removed the case to this Court,
asserting that this Court has diversity jurisdiction pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Notice of Removal
¶ 1, ECF No. 1.
21, 2016, this Court issued an order identifying several
potential obstacles to this Court’s exercise of
jurisdiction and directing Plaintiffs to show cause why this
action should not be remanded to the Superior Court.
See Order to Show Cause, ECF No. 3. The order
directed Plaintiffs to respond by August 5, 2016.
Id. Plaintiffs failed to respond to the
order. The Court acknowledges that Plaintiffs are
proceeding pro se, but even pro se
litigants “must comply with the Federal Rules of Civil
Procedure.” Jarrell v. Tisch, 656 F.Supp. 237,
239 (D.D.C. 1987). Plaintiffs have been given the opportunity
to supplement their arguments in support of this
Court’s jurisdiction, but they have failed to do so.
The Court finds that, because Plaintiffs have failed to
respond to the order to show cause, Plaintiffs have waived
their right to any argument contesting this Court’s
remand to the Superior Court. Nevertheless, the Court
considers the questions presented and finds that remand would
be required even if Plaintiffs had not conceded the issue.
a defendant in a civil action brought in a state court may
remove the action to a federal district court if the action
is one over which the federal district courts have original
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The
Superior Court of the District of Columbia is considered a
state court for this purpose. See 28 U.S.C. §
1451(1). The D.C. Circuit has explained, however, that
“[w]hen it appears that a district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over a case that has been removed from a
state court, the district court must remand the
case.” Republic of Venezuela v. Philip Morris
Inc., 287 F.3d 192, 196 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (citing 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c)) (emphasis added). Because removal
implicates federalism concerns, the court “strictly
construes the scope of its removal jurisdiction.”
Downey v. Ambassador Devel., LLC, 568 F.Supp.2d 28,
30 (D.D.C. 2008) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 107-09 (1941)) (other citations
omitted). “The party seeking removal of an action bears
the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists in federal
court.” Id. at 30 (citing Mulcahey v.
Columbia Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir.
1994) (other citations omitted); see also Reed v.
AlliedBarton Sec. Servs., LLC, 583 F.Supp.2d 92, 93
(D.D.C. 2008). Because either a party or a district court,
acting sua sponte, may raise the court’s lack
of subject matter jurisdiction, a court may also issue a
remand order on its own initiative. See Ellenburg v.
Spartan Motors Chassis, Inc., 519 F.3d 192, 196-97 (4th
Cir. 2008); see also Sloan v. Soul Circus, Inc., No.
15-1389, 2015 WL 9272838, at *4 n.4 (D.D.C. Dec. 18,
removed the case to this Court alleging that this Court has
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, better known
as diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs contend that the
“amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00” and
that there “is complete diversity of citizenship”
between the parties. See Notice of Removal ¶ 1.
The Court finds that it must remand this case for at least
two distinct reasons.
the record does not appear to support Plaintiffs’
claims with regard to the amount in controversy. The brief
Complaint seeks only injunctive relief, and makes no mention
of money damages. See generally Compl. The
Court’s review of the Superior Court record reveals no
request for monetary damages, much less any request in excess
of $75, 000. The only references to monetary damages are
found in the Notice of Removal, see Notice of
Removal ¶ 1, and the Civil Cover Sheet attached to the
Notice of Removal, see Civil Cover Sheet at 2, ECF
No. 1-2. Both demand exactly $75, 000. Plaintiffs provide no
documentation or argument in support of this figure in their
Complaint. Plaintiffs have also failed to provide any
supplementary evidence in response to the Court’s order
to show cause. Thus, the Court finds that Plaintiffs have
failed to meet their burden of proving that the amount in
controversy in this case satisfies the statutory diversity
jurisdiction requirement. See Reed, 583 F.Supp.2d at
94 (“The Court finds that AlliedBarton’s
unsubstantiated allegation that Plaintiff ‘made a
demand well in excess of $75, 000, ’ without more, does
not sufficiently prove the amount in controversy.”).
Plaintiffs also claim that there “is complete diversity
of citizenship in that Plaintiff/Counter-Defendant is an
individual with a domicile in the District of Columbia and
Defendant/Counter-Plaintiff is an individual with a domicile
in the State of New York.” See Notice of
Removal ¶ 1. Plaintiffs’ Notice of Removal lists a
New York state address for Mr. Mitchell. Id. at 1.
The Court’s review of the Superior Court record,
however, reveals that Plaintiffs’ May 20, 2016
Complaint listed a District of Columbia address for Mr.
Mitchell. See Compl. at 1. Further, Mr. Mitchell was
served with the Complaint at another District of Columbia
address. See Superior Court Record at 39. Mr.
Mitchell listed the same District of Columbia address found
in the Complaint in his own motion before the Superior Court,
and the injunctive relief he sought would have protected that
address as well. See Id . at 14-17. Finally, Mr.
Mitchell filed a motion to remand before this Court, which
states that he is “a resident of the District of
Columbia” and that he has “not lived in New York
City since 2014.” Def.’s Mot. to Remand at 1.
Aside from their unsupported allegations, Plaintiffs have
provided no evidence to the contrary. Nor have Plaintiffs
provided any evidence or argument in response to the
Court’s order to show cause. Based on the record
available, the Court finds that Mr. Mitchell is a resident of
the District of Columbia. Plaintiffs have failed to meet
their burden of proving that the citizenship of the parties
satisfies the statutory diversity jurisdiction requirement,
and the Court must remand this case to the Superior Court.
See Republic of Venezuela, 287 F.3d at 196; see
also Collier v. District of Columbia, 46 F.Supp.3d 6, 18
(D.D.C. 2014) (remanding a severed claim sua sponte
because both parties were residents of Maryland).
it is hereby ORDERED that this case is REMANDED to the
District of Columbia Superior Court. And it is
ORDERED that Defendant’s motion to remand (ECF No. 5)
is DENIED AS MOOT.
 Plaintiffs’ Complaint states
that Mr. Mitchell is also known as Brandon M.