LAWRENCE GWOZDZ, Individually and on behalf of Donna Gwozdz and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellant,
HEALTHPORT TECHNOLOGIES, LLC, Defendant-Appellee.
Argued: December 9, 2016
from the United States District Court for the District of
Maryland, at Greenbelt. Roger W. Titus, Senior District
Jonathan Barry Nace, ANTONOPLOS & ASSOCIATES, Washington,
D.C., for Appellant.
Winfield Farr, BRYAN CAVE LLP, Washington, D.C., for
J. Nace, PAULSON & NACE, PLLC, Washington, D.C., for
WILKINSON, NIEMEYER, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges.
and remanded with instructions by published opinion. Judge
Wilkinson wrote the opinion, in which Judge Niemeyer and
Judge Diaz joined.
WILKINSON, CIRCUIT JUDGE:
Gwozdz challenges HealthPort's collection of $23 in sales
tax on the sale of medical records. Under the Tax Injunction
Act (TIA), federal courts may not "enjoin, suspend or
restrain the assessment, levy or collection of any tax under
State law where a plain, speedy and efficient remedy may be
had in the courts of such State." 28 U.S.C. § 1341.
Here, Maryland has established just such a remedy. Because
the TIA and the related principle of federal-state comity
operate to deprive us of jurisdiction, we vacate the judgment
of dismissal and remand to the district court with
instructions to return the action to state court. See
Lawyer v. Hilton Head Pub. Serv. Dist. No. 1, 220 F.3d
298, 306 (4th Cir. 2000) (remanding removed portion of
consolidated case to state court due to jurisdictional bar of
requested his wife's medical records from two Maryland
hospitals, which forwarded his inquiries to their contractor,
HealthPort Technologies, LLC. Before releasing the documents,
HealthPort sent Gwozdz two itemized invoices demanding that
he pay a total of $23 in sales tax, along with other fees.
Gwozdz protested, insisting that Maryland exempted the sale
of medical records from its general sales tax and that the
$23 charge was therefore unlawful. HealthPort defended the
tax and refused to send the records unless Gwozdz pre-paid in
full. Despite his misgivings, he did so.
Gwozdz filed a class action complaint against HealthPort in
Maryland state court seeking damages and injunctive relief.
HealthPort removed the case under the Class Action Fairness
Act. Instead of requesting a refund, the typical relief
sought for an improperly paid tax, the operative complaint
asserts several statutory consumer protection claims and a