United States District Court, District of Columbia
ELEANOR M. FARAR, Plaintiff,
EARLIE WESTON COFFIELD, III, et al., Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
M. MERIWEATHER, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
case involves negligence claims arising from an incident in
which Defendant Earlie Weston Coffield, III (“Mr.
Coffield”) allegedly drove an automobile and hit and
injured Plaintiff Eleanor M. Farar (“Plaintiff”
or “Ms. Farar”) while she was walking across a
street in Washington, D.C. Pending before the Court is Ms.
Farar's Consent Motion to Remand Case to the Superior
Court of the District of Columbia (“Motion to
Remand”). See Pl.'s Consent Mot. Remand Case to
Sup. Ct. of D.C. (“Pl.'s Mot. Remand”), ECF
No. 27. Ms. Farar contends that the addition of a non-diverse
defendant in her amended complaint deprived this Court of
jurisdiction, and therefore requests that the Court remand
this action to the District of Columbia Superior Court. See
Pl.'s Mot. Remand ¶ 4. In addition, Defendant and
Cross-Claim Plaintiff Government Employees Insurance Company
(“GEICO”) has moved for summary judgment and
proposes that the Court resolve its summary judgment motion
even if the remaining claims are dismissed for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See GEICO's Mot. Summ. J.,
ECF No. 35. Having considered the parties' submissions
and the attachments thereto,  the Court DISMISSES this matter
for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, DENIES
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand, and DENIES AS MOOT
Defendant GEICO's Motion for Summary Judgment.
February 23, 2017, Ms. Farar, a resident of Washington, D.C.,
was crossing H Street, N.E. at 6th Street, N.E. in
Washington, D.C. on foot when an automobile driven by Mr.
Coffield collided with Ms. Farar. See Am. Compl. at Count I
¶ 1. Ms. Farar was walking in the pedestrian crosswalk
when she was struck, and she characterizes the collision as
negligent and careless. See Id. The vehicle that Mr.
Coffield was driving was part of an “auto sharing
program.” See Id. Defendant GetAround, Inc.
(“GetAround”) and the alleged title owner of the
vehicle, Defendant Mariano de Jesus Siguenza (“Mr.
Siguenza”), allegedly co-owned the vehicle.
October 5, 2017, Ms. Farar initiated this action by filing a
complaint against Defendants Mr. Coffield, GetAround, and
GEICO seeking damages for negligence and personal injury. See
generally Compl., ECF No. 1. Ms. Farar did not raise any
claims under federal lawand asserted diversity jurisdiction,
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), as a basis for filing
in federal court. See Id. at 1 ¶
On March 22, 2018, Ms. Farar sought leave to amend her
complaint to add Mr. Siguenza as a defendant, based on
information obtained in discovery. See Pl.'s Consent Mot.
for Leave to File First Am. Compl., ECF No. 25. The Court
granted Ms. Farar leave to amend on April 3, 2018. See
4/3/2018 Min. Order. In the Amended Complaint, Ms. Farar
named Mr. Siguenza as a defendant and alleged that he was a
resident of Washington, D.C. See Am. Compl. at 2 ¶ 5.
after filing the Amended Complaint, Ms. Farar filed a Motion
to Remand. See Pl.'s Mot. Remand. Ms. Farar asserted that
the addition of Mr. Siguenza as a defendant deprived the
Court of diversity jurisdiction because Mr. Siguenza and Ms.
Farar were District of Columbia residents. See Id.
¶ 4. Although the Amended Complaint alleges that Mr.
Coffield also resides in the District of Columbia, Ms. Farar
did not allege that his change in residence divested the
Court of diversity jurisdiction. See Am. Compl. at 2 ¶ 3
(alleging that Mr. Coffield testified to being a D.C.
resident although he lived in Maryland when the first
complaint was filed). See generally Pl.'s Mot. Remand
(discussing only Mr. Siguenza's residence in its analysis
of diversity jurisdiction). Defendant GEICO filed a response
in which it: asserted that it had not consented to remanding
the case; argued that because this case originated in federal
court, the removal statute that Ms. Farar cited as a basis
for remand does not apply; noted that the record lacked
evidence to confirm that Mr. Siguenza is a citizen of the
District of Columbia; suggested that the Court might have
diversity jurisdiction; and requested “additional time
to consider its options.” Def. GEICO's Resp. to
Mot. Remand ¶¶ 1, 7-14 & n.1, ECF No. 29. The
remaining defendants named in the original complaint,
GetAround and Mr. Coffield, filed no response, and Mr.
Siguenza had not yet been served at that time. Ms. Farar
filed a reply to GEICO's response, although she labeled
it a “sur-reply, ” seeking a hearing and asking
that GEICO “advise the Court and counsel of its
position” on the Motion to Remand. See Pl.'s
Sur-reply to Def. GEICO's Resp. to Pl.'s Mot. Remand
at 1, 5, ECF No. 31.
20, 2018 Minute Order, the Court requested supplemental
briefing from the parties regarding whether the addition of a
new defendant who had not yet consented to proceed before a
magistrate judge - Mr. Siguenza - affected the Court's
authority to rule on Plaintiff's pending Motion to
Remand. Ms. Farar and all three Defendants filed memoranda in
response to the Court's Minute Order. See generally
Getaround's Mem., ECF No. 43; Pl.'s Mem. of Law, ECF
No. 44; Def. Coffield's Mem. of Law, ECF No. 45; Def.
GEICO's Suppl. Mem., ECF No. 46. In a subsequent filing,
Ms. Farar proposed to serve Mr. Siguenza with the Amended
Complaint so that he could state his position regarding
proceeding before a Magistrate Judge. See Pl.'s Surreply
to GEICO's Resp. to Pl.'s Partial Consent Mot. for
Status Hr'g ¶¶ 5-6, ECF No. 49.
Minute Order dated October 10, 2018, the Court extended the
time in which Ms. Farar could serve Mr. Siguenza. Ms. Farar
filed proof of service on October 17, 2018, demonstrating
that she had timely served Mr. Siguenza with the Amended
Complaint. See Return of Service/Affidavit, ECF No. 53. On
November 5, 2018, Mr. Siguenza filed his Answer to the
Amended Complaint, see ECF No. 54, and a Notice indicating
that he consented to proceeding before the undersigned for
all purposes, including trial. See Notice, Consent, and
Reference of a Civil Action to a Magistrate Judge, ECF No.
55. The parties have all now consented to proceed before a
Magistrate Judge in this action, thereby resolving any prior
ambiguity regarding the Court's authority to resolve the
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12, if the Court finds
“at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction,
the court must dismiss the action.” Fed.R.Civ.P.
12(h)(3). Federal courts may address questions of subject
matter jurisdiction even if no party has moved to dismiss the
action. See Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 671
(2009) (“Subject-matter jurisdiction cannot be
forfeited or waived and should be considered when fairly in
doubt.”); G. Keys PC/Logis NP v. Pope, 630
F.Supp.2d 13, 15 (D.D.C. 2009) (“When it perceives that
subject matter jurisdiction is in question, the Court should
address the issue sua sponte.”); see also Noel
Canning v. NLRB, 705 F.3d 490, 496 (D.C. Cir. 2013)
(noting that “federal courts, being courts of limited
jurisdiction, must assure themselves of jurisdiction over any
controversy they hear”), aff'd but
criticized, 134 S.Ct. 2550 (2014).
evaluating subject matter jurisdiction, the Court “must
accept all of the complaint's well-pleaded factual
allegations as true and draw all reasonable inferences from
those allegations in the plaintiff['s] favor.”
G. Keys PC/Logis NP, 630 F.Supp.2d at 16. However,
the Court “need not accept factual inferences drawn by
plaintiffs if those inferences are not supported by facts
alleged in the complaint, nor must the Court accept
plaintiff['s] legal conclusions.” Masoud v.
Suliman,816 F.Supp.2d 77, 79 (D.D.C. 2011) (quoting
Speelman v. United States,461 F.Supp.2d 71, 73
(D.D.C. 2006)) (internal quotation marks omitted). The Court
also may consider information outside of the complaint and
look to “undisputed facts evidenced in the record, or
the complaint supplemented by ...