United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
Castle Credit Co. Holding, LLC, Plaintiff,
Ramona Riley and Roy Riley, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
C. COGGINS, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on a United States Magistrate
Judge's Report and Recommendation (“Report”),
recommending that this Court remand the case to the Lexington
County Magistrate Court. ECF No. 8. Defendant Roy Riley
(“Defendant Riley”) has filed Objections to the
Report. ECF No. 11. Having reviewed the entire record, the
Court finds that the Magistrate Judge fairly and accurately
summarized the facts and applied the correct principles of
law. Accordingly, the Court adopts the Report and fully
incorporates it into this Order.
Procedural and Factual History
filed a debt collection action against Defendants in the
Lexington County Magistrate Court on May 19, 2017. ECF No.
1-4 at 9-14. The Complaint raises state law causes of action
for breach of contract, debt collection, and quantum meruit.
ECF No. 1-4 at 10-12. Defendant Riley, proceeding pro se,
filed a Notice of Removal in this Court on September 26, 2017,
seeking to remove the case to federal court and raise a
counterclaim under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15
U.S.C. §§ 1692-1692p, (“FDCPA”) for
damages, costs, and attorneys' fees. ECF No. 1 at 1-4.
Defendants filed an “Affidavit in Support of Complaint
for Removal, ” which indicates that Defendant Ramona
Riley has consented to removal. ECF No. 1-2 at 1. The Notice
of Removal generally contends that the Court has federal
question jurisdiction in this matter. ECF No. 1 at 2.
case was referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b) and Local Civil Rule 73.02(B)(2)
(D.S.C.). On October 5, 2017, the Magistrate Judge issued the
Report and recommended that the matter be remanded to the
Lexington County Magistrate Court for lack of federal
jurisdiction. ECF No. 8. Defendant Riley filed timely
Objections to the Report, which are addressed in turn below.
The Magistrate Judge's Report and Recommendation
Magistrate Judge makes only a recommendation to this Court.
The recommendation has no presumptive weight, and the
responsibility to make a final determination remains with
this Court. Mathews v. Weber, 423 U.S. 261, 270-71.
Parties are allowed to make a written objection to a
Magistrate Judge's report within fourteen days after
being served a copy of the report. 28 U.S.C. §
636(b)(1). From the objections, the Court reviews de novo
those portions of the Report that have been specifically
objected to, and the Court may accept, reject, or modify the
Report, in whole or in part. Id.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and, as such, may
only hear and decide cases when they have been given the
authority to do so by the Constitution and by federal
statute. In re Bulldog Trucking, Inc., 147 F.3d 347,
352 (1998). Generally, a case can be filed in federal
district court if there is diversity of citizenship under 28
U.S.C. § 1332 or if there is federal question
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The removal
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, allows a state court
defendant to remove a case to a federal district court if the
state court action could have been originally filed there.
Darcangelo v. Verizon Commc'ns, Inc., 292 F.3d
181, 186 (4th Cir. 2002). However, the removing defendant has
the burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction,
Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chems. Co., Inc., 29
F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994), and a federal district court
may sua sponte remand a case to state court if federal
jurisdiction is lacking. Ellenburg v. Spartan Motors
Chassis, Inc., 519 F.3d 192, 196 (4th Cir. 2008).
Report, the Magistrate Judge recommends that this Court
remand the case because Defendant Riley has not met his
burden of establishing federal subject matter jurisdiction.
To that end, the Magistrate Judge first found jurisdiction to
be lacking because Plaintiff's Complaint contains no
federal question. ECF No. 8 at 3. Defendant Riley objects to
this finding and contends that a federal question was
presented pursuant to 5 U.S.C. § 702 and the FDCPA.
Defendant Riley's argument is not persuasive, as this
Court's inquiry is focused only on the question of
whether “a federal question is presented on the face of
the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint without
consideration of any potential defenses.” Harless
v. CSX Hotels, Inc., 389 F.3d 444, 450 (4th Cir. 2004).
This Court has reviewed the Plaintiff's Complaint and is
satisfied that the only claims raised therein are state law
claims that implicate no questions of federal law.
Magistrate Judge also addressed the question of whether there
is diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332
and found jurisdiction to be lacking because Defendants are
citizens of South Carolina. ECF No. 8 at 3-4. In his
Objections, Defendant Riley variously claims that Defendants
are “consumer[s] and citizen[s] of the united States of
America (sic)” and “are American and not a
Corporation.” ECF No. 11 at 3. However, Defendant Riley
does not offer any evidence to dispute the record before the
Court, which indicates that Defendants are citizens of the
State of South Carolina. In fact, Defendant Riley lists a
Columbia, South Carolina address for himself in the Notice of
Removal. ECF No. 1 at 4. Therefore, Defendant Riley has
failed to carry his burden of establishing federal subject
matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2)
(“A civil action otherwise removable solely on the
basis of [diversity] jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of
this title may not be removed if any of the parties in
interest properly joined and served as defendants is a
citizen of the State in which such action is