United States District Court, District of Columbia
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
A. Howell, Chief Judge.
removed action raises D.C. contract and tort law claims
related to event planning services that the plaintiff, RGI
Events & Public Relations, LLC (“RGI”),
provided to defendant Al Qurm Management Consultancy
(“AQC”), a corporation, and two of AQC's
employees, Bassma El-Afghani and Maria Chin (the
“Individual Defendants”). See Compl.,
ECF No. 1-1; Defs.' Resp. to Order to Show Cause
(“Defs.' Resp. to Order”) ¶ 2, ECF No.
27. As discussed below, this Court lacks jurisdiction to
review the merits of those claims. Accordingly, this action
shall be remanded to the Superior Court of the District of
Columbia (“D.C. Superior Court”).
initially filed this action in D.C. Superior Court against
three defendants-AQC, a corporation, and two AQC employees,
Bassma El-Afghani and Maria Chin-asserting D.C. law claims
for breach of contract, misappropriation of trade secrets,
and tortious interference with business relations.
See Compl.; Defs.' Resp. to Order ¶ 2. The
defendants removed the case to this Court, see
Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1, which removal RGI did not
defendant AQC filed counterclaims against RGI, as well as a
third-party complaint against Rachael Glaws, the sole member
of RGI, and two others. See AQC's Answer,
Third-Party Compl., and Countercls., ECF No. 6; AQC's
Suppl. Countercls. with Exs., ECF No. 9. The Individual
Defendants also filed a third-party complaint against Ms.
Glaws. See Individual Defs.' Third-Party Compl.,
ECF No. 7. The parties then filed several dispositive motions
against each other. Specifically, pending before the Court
are (1) the Individual Defendants' Joint Motion to
Dismiss RGI's Complaint, ECF No. 8; (2) RGI's Motion
for Judgment on the Pleadings, ECF No. 12; and (3) RGI and
Rachael Glaws's Joint Motion to Dismiss Defendants'
Counterclaims and Third Party Complaints, or a Motion for
Summary Judgment in the Alternative, ECF No. 14.
Court, in reviewing the parties' filings, questioned its
subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte and ordered
the defendants, which bear the burden of pleading
jurisdiction in this removed action, to show cause why the
Court has diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
See Min. Order (Feb. 9, 2019). The defendants
submitted a sparse response totaling three paragraphs.
See Defs.' Resp. to Order. RGI did not file any
opposition. For the reasons explained below, upon
consideration of the defendants' response and the entire
record, the Court concludes jurisdiction is lacking. Thus,
this action is remanded to D.C. Superior Court, and the
pending motions are denied as moot.
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may
be removed by . . . 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). “When 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 .
. ., and the court's order remanding the case to the
state court whence it came ‘is not reviewable on appeal
or otherwise.'” Republic of Venezuela v. Philip
Morris Inc., 287 F.3d 192, 196 (D.C. Cir. 2002) (citing
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) and quoting id. §
1447(d)). Due to the statutory prohibition of appellate
review of remanded cases, the legal standard for removal has
largely been developed by the district courts.
defendants, as the parties seeking the exercise of federal
court jurisdiction over this removed case, “bear the
burden of pleading” the basis for jurisdiction.
Novak v. Capital Mgmt. & Dev. Corp., 452 F.3d
902, 906 (D.C. Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks and
citation omitted); Apton v. Volkswagen Grp. of Am.,
Inc., 233 F.Supp.3d 4, 11 (D.D.C. 2017). If the
defendants are unable to make this showing, a “court
must remand the case.” Johnson-Brown v. 2200 M
Street LLC, 257 F.Supp.2d 175, 177 (D.D.C. 2003) (citing
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)).
light of the significant federalism concerns involved, this
court ‘strictly construes the scope of its removal
jurisdiction.'” Moses v. SunTrust Mortg.,
Inc., No. 11-cv-00822 (BJR), 2012 WL 113375, at *2
(D.D.C. 2012) (quoting Breakman v. AOL LLC, 545
F.Supp.2d 96, 100 (D.D.C. 2008)); accord Wells Fargo
Bank, N.A. v. Wilson, No. 18-cv-2381 (RC), 2019 WL
340717, at *1 (D.D.C. Jan. 28, 2019). Even “[w]here the
need to remand is not self-evident, the court must resolve
any ambiguities concerning the propriety of removal in favor
of remand.” Animal Legal Def. Fund v. Hormel Foods
Corp., 249 F.Supp.3d 53, 56 (D.D.C. 2017) (internal
quotation marks omitted) (quoting Johnson-Brown, 257
F.Supp.2d at 177).
defendants contend that this action is properly removed,
based on diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Notice of Removal ¶ 3. Section 1332 provides that
federal courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil
actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $75, 000, exclusive of interests and costs, and is
between . . . citizens of a State and citizens or subjects of
a foreign state.” Id. § 1332(a)(2). Thus,
subject matter jurisdiction over any action raised in
diversity must satisfy a two-prong inquiry: the amount in
controversy must exceed $75, 000, and the litigants must be
diverse from one another. See Id. The
defendants have not sufficiently pleaded either requirement,
neither of which is apparent on the face of the Complaint.
A. Amount in Controversy
jurisdiction requires that the “the matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000.”
Id. § 1332(a). RGI's Complaint includes
three counts for damages. Compl. ¶¶ 28-52. Count I
seeks $38, 655.33 for a breach of contract claim against AQC
only. Id. ¶¶ 28- 32. Counts II and III-for
misappropriation of trade secrets and tortious interference
with business relations, respectively-include claims against
all three defendants. Id. ¶¶ 33-52. For
each of ...