United States District Court, E.D. Virginia, Richmond Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION (DENYING PLAINTIFFS MOTION TO
Honorable Henry E. Hudson, Senior United States District
matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Joseph O'Carroll,
Ill's ("Plaintiff) Motion to Remand (the
"Motion") (ECF No. 14), filed on March 29, 2019.
Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. ("JPMorgan")
filed a Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motion (ECF No.
16) on April 11, 2019. The Court will dispense with oral
argument because the facts and legal contentions are
adequately presented in the materials before the Court, and
oral argument would not aid in the decisional process.
See E.D. Va. Local Civ. R. 7(J). For the reasons
that follow, the Court denies Plaintiffs Motion.
to the Complaint, Plaintiff owns property "in the city
of North Chesterfield, Virginia" known as "Lot 44,
North Settlers Landing, Section 1, with improvements
thereon." (Compl. ¶ 4, ECF No. 1-1.) On June 20,
2003, Plaintiff allegedly entered into a mortgage loan
contract in which he was the borrower. (Id.
¶ 5.) The Complaint further states that the loan was
evidenced by a Note and secured by a Deed of Trust.
(Id. ¶ 5.)
January 2017, Plaintiff fell behind on his mortgage payments
after experiencing a "reduction of income after a job
change." (Id. ¶ 7.) Somtime thereafter,
Plaintiff alleges that his income increased and that he
sought several loan modifications with JPMorgan.
(Id. ¶ 8.) However, he contends that JPMorgan
repeatedly denied these attempts. (Id. ¶ 9.)
Furthermore, Plaintiff alleges that, despite his best
efforts, he was unable to save enough to satisfy the missed
payments. (Id. ¶ 11.)
April 2018, Plaintiff states that he received an escrow
statement from JPMorgan reflecting a surplus of $16, 360.86.
(Id. ¶ 12.) In response, Plaintiff requested
that JPMorgan apply those funds to the outstanding balance,
however, JPMorgan allegedly declined to do so. (Id.
¶ 13.) Plaintiff contends that he has proof of funds to
cover the remainder of the balance should JPMorgan apply the
escrow funds to the outstanding amount. (Id. ¶
2018, Plaintiff alleges that he attempted to make a payment
to JPMorgan that, when combined with the amount in escrow,
would bring his mortgage account current, but JPMorgan
refused that payment. (Id. ¶¶ 15-16.)
Plaintiff obtained counsel and sent an "error
letter" to JPMorgan and the substitute trustee,
Defendant Samuel I. White, P.C. ("SIWPC"), which
outlined JPMorgan's alleged violations of 12 C.F.R.
§ 1024.35 and 12 C.F.R. § 1026.36. (Id.
¶¶ 17-18.) Representatives from JPMorgan allegedly
informed Plaintiff that they could not process his request
because the account is in active foreclosure status.
(Id. ¶ 20.)
January 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed suit in Chesterfield County
Circuit Court. As of the date of filing, Plaintiff contends
that SIWPC intended to sell the property at auction on
January 31. (Id. ¶ 21.) The Complaint
lodges five claims against JPMorgan and SIWPC. (Id.
¶¶ 22-61.) On February 21, JPMorgan filed a Notice
of Removal in this Court (ECF No. 1). On March 15, JPMorgan
and SIWPC each filed respective Motions to Dismiss (ECF Nos.
9, 12). On March 29, Plaintiff filed the Motion that is
currently before the Court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
removing parties, Defendants bear the burden of demonstrating
that this Court has subject-matter jurisdiction. Pressl
v. Appalachian Power Co., 842 F.3d 299, 302 (4th Cir.
2016). Removing a proceeding from state court raises
significant federalism concerns; accordingly, "[i]f
federal jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is
necessary." Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems.
Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994).
Court has "original jurisdiction of all civil actions
where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of
$75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between ...
Citizens of different States ...." 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a)(1). Diversity must be complete "such that the
state of citizenship of each plaintiff must be different from
that of each defendant" at the time an action commences.
Athena Auto., Inc. v. DiGregorio, 166 F.3d 288, 290
(4th Cir. 1999).
fraudulent joinder doctrine, however, presents an exception
to the complete diversity requirement, whereby a federal
court can disregard the citizenship of a fraudulently joined
party in determining whether the court has jurisdiction under
§ 1332. E.D. ex rel Darcy v. Pfizer, Inc., 722
F.3d 574, 578 (4th Cir. 2013); McFadden v. Fannie
Mae, 525 Fed.Appx. 223, 227 (4th Cir. 2013) (citations
omitted). The Fourth Circuit counsels that the fraudulent
joinder standard "is even more favorable to the
plaintiff than the standard for ruling on a motion to dismiss
under Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(b)(6)." Hartley v. CSX Trans.,
Inc., 187 F.3d 422, 424 (4th Cir. 1999) (citing
Batoffv. State Farm Ins. Co., 977 F.2d 848, 852 (3d
Cir. 1992)). Consequently, the defendant must shoulder a
significant burden to establish fraudulent joinder.
Marshall v. Manville Sales Corp., 6 F.3d 229, 232-33
(4th Cir. 1993).
party claiming fraudulent or improper joinder must show that
a claim could not be established against the non-diverse
defendant, even after resolving all issues of law and fact in
the plaintiffs favor. Mayes v. Rapoport, 198 ...