United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Norfolk Division
OPINION & ORDER
COKE MORGAN, JR. SENIOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on Dante Ventvertloh's
("Plaintiffs") Motion to Remand and for Joinder of
the United States as a Necessary Party ("the
Motion"). Doc. 6. Lincoln Property Company
("LPC"), Lincoln Military Housing, LLC
("LMH"), Mid-Atlantic Military Family Communities,
LLC ("Mid-Atlantic"), and LPC Property Management,
LLC ("LPCPM") (collectively "Defendants")
oppose the Motion. Doc. 7. The Court held a hearing on
Plaintiffs Motion to Remand on June 19, 2018. For the reasons
set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs Motion to Remand
and for Joinder of the United States as a Necessary Party.
is an adult who resided in military housing ("Ben
Moreell") as a minor child. Compl ¶ 1. Plaintiff
alleges that while he resided in Ben Moreell he was exposed
to "damp indoor space, " which resulted in a
personal injury. Compl. ¶ 2. The land on which Ben
Moreell is located (the "Property") is owned by the
United States Navy and was leased to Defendants for the
purpose of maintaining military housing. Id. at 7.
When the Property was originally purchased by the United
States Navy, the State ceded exclusive legislative
jurisdiction over the Property to the Navy; however, in 1984
the Navy gave concurrent legislative jurisdiction over the
Property to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Id. at 5,
Ex. C. Plaintiff began residing in military housing in 2000,
during the time period in which the Navy had ceded concurrent
legislative jurisdiction to the Commonwealth of Virginia.
Compl. ¶ 12.
December 14, 2017 Plaintiff filed a complaint with the
Circuit Court for the City of Norfolk. Compl. On January 9,
2018, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal pursuant to 28
U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1441, and 1446. Doc. 1. On February
5, 2018, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion. Doc. 6. On
February 19, 2018, Defendant responded in opposition to
Plaintiffs Motion. Doc. 7. Plaintiff did not reply. On March
12, 2018, Plaintiff attempted to attach additional documents
to his Motion without requesting leave of Court. See Doc. 6.
Defendant filed a Motion to Strike the additional exhibits on
March 15, 2018. On March 27, 2018, this Court GRANTED
Defendant's Motion to Strike and GRANTED Plaintiff leave
to re-file the attachments upon filing the appropriate
motion. Doc. 11. On March 30, 2018 Plaintiff filed two
Motions to Attach Additional Brief Materials. Docs. 12,
On April 13, 2018 Plaintiff filed a Memorandum in Support of
his Motion for Leave to Attach Additional Documents. Doc. 16.
On April 18, 2018, this Court GRANTED Plaintiffs Motion to
Attach Additional Brief Materials, Doc. 13, and DENIED
Plaintiffs Motion to Attach brief Materials, Doc. 12, as
MOOT. The Court GRANTED Defendant ten (10) days from the date
of its order to amend its Memorandum in Opposition to
Plaintiffs Motion to address the contents of the newly
attached brief materials. Doc. 17. Defendant filed its
Response in Opposition on April 30, 2018. Plaintiffs Motion
is now ripe for review.
Motion to Remand
28 of the United States Code, Section 1441(a) provides that
"any civil action brought in a State court of which the
district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the
defendants" A defendant may remove a state court action
to federal court only if it originally could have been filed
by the plaintiff in federal court. Caterpillar Inc. v.
Williams. 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441). When analyzing a motion to remand, significant
federalism concerns require the court to construe the removal
statute strictly against removal. Venezuela v. Massimo
Zanetti Beverage USA. Inc.. 525 F.Supp.2d 781, 784 (E.D.
Va. 2007). The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is
thus upon the party seeking removal. Mulcahev v. Columbia
Organic Chems. Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994)
(citing Wilson v. Republic Iron & Steel Co.. 257
U.S. 92, 97 (1921)). "If federal jurisdiction is
doubtful, a remand is necessary." Mulcahev. 29
F.3d at 151.
28 U.S.C. §1331, a federal district court has
jurisdiction over matters "arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."
Gunn v. Minton. 568 U.S. 251, 257 (2005). Article I,
section 8, clause 17, of the United States Constitution (the
"Enclave Clause") gives "Congress...the
power...to exercise exclusive Legislation...over all Places
purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in
which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts,
Magazines, Arsenals, Dock-Yards, and other needful
Buildings." Federico. et al. v. Lincoln Military
Housing, et al. 901 F.Supp.2d 654, 663 (E.D. Va. 2012).
Whether the United States has acquired exclusive jurisdiction
over a federal enclave is a federal question. Id.
Joinder of Necessary Parties
(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure states:
...a person who is subject to service of process and whose
joinder will not deprive the court of subject-matter
jurisdiction must be joined as a party if: (A) in that
person's absence, the court cannot accord complete relief
among existing parties; or (B) that person claims an interest
relating to the subject of the action and is so situated that
disposing of the action in the person's absence may: (i)
as a practical matter impair or impede the person's
ability to protect the interest; or (ii) leave an existing
party subject to a substantial risk of incurring double,
multiple, or otherwise inconsistent obligations because of
the interest...If a person has not been joined as required,