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Hamilton v. Arcan Capital, LLC

United States District Court, M.D. North Carolina

March 22, 2019

TANESHA HAMILTON, Plaintiff,
v.
ARCAN CAPITAL, LLC, and CMJD WINSTON-SALEM APARTMENTS, LLC d/b/a/ SEDGEFIELD APARTMENTS, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          Loretta C. Biggs United States District Judge

         Plaintiff initiated this putative class action alleging unlawful debt collection practices against Arcan Capital, LLC (“Arcan Capital”) and CMJD Winston-Salem Apartments, LLC (“CMJD Winston-Salem”) in Forsyth County Superior Court on March 26, 2018. (ECF No. 6.) Defendants removed the case to this Court “pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(1) and 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446” on May 1, 2018. (ECF No. 1.) Before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 13.) For the reasons stated below, Plaintiff's motion is granted.

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff leased an apartment from Sedgefield Apartments, which was operated by Arcan Capital. (ECF No. 6 ¶¶ 8, 13.) In September 2017, Plaintiff was late in making a rent payment and was charged an additional 5% of her monthly rent, pursuant to the terms of her lease. (Id. ¶¶ 39-40; ECF No. 6-2 at 2.) On September 26, 2017, Defendants initiated a Complaint in Summary Ejectment in Small Claims Court in Forsyth County. (ECF No. 6-3.) On September 28, 2017, Defendants charged Plaintiff $191.00 for “Eviction/Filing Fees.” (ECF No. 6-2 at 2.) On October 11, 2017, Defendants obtained a Judgment in their Action for Summary Ejectment, in which the costs of the action were taxed to the Defendants. (ECF No. 6-4.) The same pattern repeated for the month of October, with Plaintiff being charged both a 5% late fee and $191.00 for “Eviction Filing Fees.” (ECF No. 6 ¶ 44-48; ECF No. 6-2 at 2; ECF Nos. 6-5, 6-6.)

         Plaintiff filed this action individually and on behalf of a class, asserting three claims of violations of state law: one violation of the North Carolina Residential Rental Agreements Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 42-46, one violation of the North Carolina Debt Collection Act, N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-50, et seq., and one violation of the North Carolina Unfair and Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“NCUDTPA”), N.C. Gen. Stat. § 75-1.1, et seq. (ECF No. 6 ¶¶ 66-96.) Plaintiff's putative class consists of:

all tenants of Defendants' Apartments in North Carolina who (a) at any point within the four (4) year period preceding the filing of Plaintiff's Complaint and during its pendency (b) resided in one of the apartments owned or managed by Defendants[ ] in North Carolina (c) were charged Court Costs and Attorneys' Fees prior to a North Carolina court taxing such Court Costs and Attorneys' Fees to the particular individual (d) or actually paid such Court Costs and Attorneys' Fees to Defendants.

(Id. ¶ 50.)

         Defendants removed the case to this Court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d), and diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 11, 12.) Plaintiff now moves to remand this case back to state court, arguing that this Court does not have jurisdiction over this matter. (ECF No. 13.) Plaintiff also requests that she be awarded attorney's fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). (ECF No. 14 at 19-22.)

         II. DISCUSSION

         Subject matter jurisdiction relates to the Court's power to hear this case. Holloway v. Pagan River Dockside Seafood, Inc., 669 F.3d 448, 453 (4th Cir. 2012) (citing Arbaugh v. Y & H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514 (2006)). Thus, the Court must address this issue before addressing other issues in the case. Jones v. Am. Postal Workers Union, 192 F.3d 417, 422 (4th Cir. 1999). The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction rests with the party seeking removal. Hoschar v. Appalachian Power Co., 739 F.3d 163, 169 (4th Cir. 2014). Remand is required “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         A defendant can remove a state court action to federal court if it is one over which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction. Id. § 1441(a). Defendants argue that this Court has jurisdiction over this case under both CAFA and diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1 ¶¶ 11, 12.) This Court will address both bases of jurisdiction in turn.

         A. CAFA-§ 1332(d)

         A district court has jurisdiction pursuant to CAFA if the following requirements are satisfied:

(1) “the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2); (2) “any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a State different from any defendant, ” id. ยง 1332(d)(2)(A); and (3) ...

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