Beasley v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

Filing 9

MEMORANDUM OPINION. See for complete details. It is so ORDERED. Signed by District Judge Robert E. Payne on 02/06/2017. (mailed copy to pro se Plaintiff & Henrico GDC) (nbrow)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF VIRGINIA Richmond Division IL FEB - 7 20l7 RAIFORD BEASLEY, CLERK, U.S. DISTRICT COURT RICHMOND, VA Plaintiff, v. Civil Action No. 3:16cv940 WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A., Defendant. MEMORANDUM OPINION This matter is before the Court on DEFENDANT WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A. 'S MOTION TO DISMISS THE PLAINTIFF'S WARRANT IN DEBT OR ALTERNATIVELY MOTION FOR MORE DEFINITE STATEMENT ("Motion to Dismiss") Remand (ECF No. 6). (ECF No. 3) and Plaintiff Raiford Beasley's Motion to For the reasons set forth below, the Motion to Remand will be granted and the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be denied as moot. BACKGROUND This action began in the General District Court of Henrico County where Beasley filed a Warrant in Debt seeking $25,000 in damages based on the single statement that "Wells Fargo submitted wrongly negative information to the credit agency that damaged my credit rating." (ECF No. 1, Exhibit B). Concluding that Beasley was alleging violation of the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA), 15 U.S.C. §§ 1681 et. seq., Wells Fargo filed a timely 1 has notice of removal to this Court (ECF No. 1). Wells Fargo since filed a motion to dismiss the Warrant in Debt, and alternatively asks the Court to order a more definite statement pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(e). On December 21, (ECF No. contract 6), only. 2016, clarifying Wells filed DEFENDANT WELLS (ECF No. 4, 1-4). Beasley filed this Motion to Remand that his action Fargo nonetheless FARGO BANK, is opposes for breach remand and has N.A.' S MEMORANDUM OF LAW IN OPPOSITION TO PLAINTIFF RAIFORD BEASLEY'S MOTION TO REMAND No. 6) of (ECF ("Def. Resp.") . Wells Fargo maintains that the Warrant in Debt indicates a federal claim. Id. 3-4. Beasley has requested a hearing on his motion however, (ECF No. 7); the briefs that have been filed adequately present the dispute, and further argument would not aid the Court in reaching a decision. Thus, the Court denies Beasley's request in its discretion under Fed. R. merits For of the motions. Civ. the P. 78, reasons and proceeds to the set forth below, Beasley's Motion to Remand will be granted and the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss will be denied as moot. Wells Fargo was served with the Warrant in Debt on October 31, 2016. (ECF No. 1 at ~8). The notice of removal was filed November 30, 2016. Id. 1 2 DISCUSSION Removal is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides in relevant part: (a) . . . 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, to the district court of the United States for the district and di vision embracing the place where such action is pending. "Because removal jurisdiction raises significant federalism concerns," the Fourth Circuit has concluded that district courts "must strictly Columbia 1994). construe Organic removal Chemicals Consequently, if jurisdiction." Co., 29 federal F.3d 148, jurisdiction Mulcahey 151 is (4th v. Cir. doubtful, a remand is necessary. Id. Jurisdiction is at best doubtful here. initial statement stating a claim on the under Warrant Federal in Debt law, he Although Beasley's could has be since read as clarified otherwise. His motion to remand reads as follows: I am requesting to have this case moved back to Henrico General District Court. This case was filed as a result of the breach of a verbal and written agreement to resolve a case (GV-13-15762-00) previously filed in Henrico General District Court. (Court Date 9/6/13). Wells Fargo was negligent in honoring their commitment. I am requesting a hearing before a judge. (Beasley's Motion demonstrates that 1). Most he is plausibly asserting 3 read, a claim Beasley's for motion breach of contract, specifically a "verbal and written agreement to resolve" an earlier case also filed in General District Court. Id. That claim does not "arise[] under the Constitution, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. therefore lacks jurisdiction in this 1331. § case, laws, The Court and remand is is proper by necessary. Wells Fargo maintains that jurisdiction continuing to construe only the one-line Warrant in Debt, and otherwise arguing that the "outcome of this case depends upon questions of federal law," in particular preemption. 3-4). However, established Wells Fargo's that principle position federal a is (Def. Resp. contrary defense, to even one the of preemption, does not confer subject-matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. See Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers (1983) Vacation Trust for S. California, 463 U.S. 1, 12 (holding that removal was improper even if "neither the obligation created by state law nor failure to comply are in dispute, the defendant's factual and both parties admit that the only question for decision is raised by a federal preemption defense") . Beasley is the master of his complaint, and he is not bound by how Williams, the 482 Defendant U.S. interprets 386, purposes of this case, 398 it. (1987). Beasley "may, 4 Caterpillar Most Inc. importantly v. for by eschewing claims based on federal law, choose to have the cause heard in state court." Id. at 398-99 (emphasis added) . That is especially so where, as here, the state court action is commenced by filing a Warrant in Debt, which requires only a terse description of the claim, and which was filed by a lay person acting pro se. Beasley's motion to remand makes it clear that he is "eschewing claims based on federal matter law." Id. Therefore, jurisdiction Beasley's Motion in to there this Remand. is and case, Having lacks subject matter jurisdiction, no the basis for Court determined subject will that grant the Court the Court will also deny the Defendant's Motion to Dismiss as moot. CONCLUSION For (ECF No. MOTION the 6) reasons stated above, will be granted. TO ALTERNATIVELY DISMISS THE MOTION Beasley's Motion to Remand DEFENDANT WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A.'S PLAINTIFF'S FOR MORE DEFINITE IN WARRANT STATEMENT DEBT (ECF No. will be denied as moot. It is so ORDERED. Isl , Robert E. Payne Senior United States District Judge Richmond, Virginia Date: February I-' 2017 5 OR 3)

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