United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Columbia Division
DONALD BLACK, MARCIA BLACK, LARRY MARTIN, REBECCA MARTIN, BARBARA THOMPSON, and JAMES THOMPSON, for themselves and a class of similarly situated plaintiffs, Plaintiffs,
MANTEI & ASSOCIATES, RICKEY ALAN MANTEI, CINDY CHIELLINI, CENTAURUS FINANCIAL, INC., and J.P. TURNER & CO., LLC, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS
MOTION TO REMAND AND FOR ATTORNEY FEES
GEIGER LEWIS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Donald Black, Marcia Black, Larry Martin, Rebecca Martin,
Barbara Thompson, and James Thompson, for themselves and a
class of similarly situated plaintiffs, (collectively,
Plaintiffs) brought this action for various South Carolina
state law claims. Defendants Mantei & Associates, Rickey
Alan Mantei, Cindy Chiellini, Centaurus Financial, Inc., and
J.P. Turner & Company, LLC (collectively Defendants)
removed the action to federal court under 15 U.S.C. §
before the Court is Plaintiffs' motion to remand the
action to state court and for attorney fees. Having carefully
considered Plaintiffs' motion, the response, the reply,
the record, and the applicable law, it is the judgment of the
Court Plaintiffs' motion to remand and for attorney fees
will be denied.
brought this action in the Lexington County Court of Common
Pleas. Plaintiffs allege Defendants “advertised and
sold illiquid debt instruments to unsophisticated
investors.” Complaint ¶ 4. More specifically,
Plaintiffs allege the suit involves “products
includ[ing] structured certificates of deposit . . .,
principal protected notes . . ., and ‘medium term'
corporate bonds, all of which shared the same characteristics
that Defendants willfully misrepresented and/or concealed
from Named Plaintiffs and other Class Members.”
Id. Plaintiffs, in the complaint, further assert:
All of the [products included in the suit] were debt
securities exempt from registration pursuant to rules issued
by the Securities and Exchange Commission under the
Securities Act of 1933, [which] were not issued by investment
companies registered under or which have filed registration
statements under the Investment Company Act of 1940, and/or
[which] otherwise did not qualify as “covered
securities” for purposes of the Securities Litigation
Uniform Standards Act of 1998 [(SLUSA)].
Id. ¶ 5. Importantly, neither the definition,
nor any other portion of the complaint, identifies specific
products subject to the suit.
removed the action to federal court based on 15 U.S.C. §
78bb(f)(2). Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand the action to
state court and to collect attorney fees. Defendants
responded and Plaintiffs replied. The court, having been
fully briefed on the relevant issues, is prepared to
adjudicate Plaintiffs' motion.
STANDARDS OF REVIEW
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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
“Because removal jurisdiction raises significant
federalism concerns, [a court] must strictly construe removal
jurisdiction.” Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chem.
Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994). “If federal
jurisdiction is doubtful, a remand is necessary.”
courts have jurisdiction over “all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Under federal question
jurisdiction, the well-plead compliant rule applies.
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). This requires “a federal question [be]
presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Id. This means a plaintiff
“may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance
on state law.” Id.
notable exception to the well-plead compliant rule is where
there is complete preemption of the claim under federal law.
Id. at 393. “Once an area of state law has
been completely preempted, any claim purportedly based on
that pre-empted state law is considered, from its ...