Midland Funding LLC v. Huminski et al

Filing 18

ORDER that Plaintiff's 9 Motion to Dismiss, construed as a Motion to Remand, is granted. The Clerk shall remand this case to Highland Justice Court. All other pending motions (Doc. 2, 7, 8, 13, 15 and 16) are denied as moot. Signed by Judge David G Campbell on 12/3/2012. (LFIG)

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1 WO 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE DISTRICT OF ARIZONA 8 9 Midland Funding LLC, Plaintiffs, 10 11 v. 12 Scott Huminski, et al., 13 Defendants. 14 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) No. CV-12-0868-PHX-DGC ORDER 15 Plaintiff commenced this breach of contract action in Highland Justice Court to collect 16 an alleged debt of $5,710.17. Doc. 1-2. Plaintiff served the complaint on April 25, 2012, 17 and Defendants removed the case to this Court the next day alleging diversity and federal 18 question jurisdiction. Doc. 1. Rather than answer the complaint in this Court, Defendants 19 filed a motion to dismiss and numerous other motions. 20 Plaintiff has filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that this Court lacks subject matter 21 jurisdiction. Doc. 9. The Court will construe the motion to dismiss as a motion to remand 22 the case to Justice Court. Defendants oppose the motion. Docs. 13, 15. For the reasons that 23 follow, the Court will grant Plaintiff’s motion and remand this case to Justice Court. 24 Pursuant to the removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, any civil action brought in state 25 court over which the federal district courts have original jurisdiction may be removed to the 26 federal district court for the district where the action is pending. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Courts 27 strictly construe the statute against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 28 566 (9th Cir. 1992). Indeed, there is a “strong presumption” against removal and “[f]ederal 1 jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first 2 instance.” Id. “The ‘strong presumption’ against removal jurisdiction means that the 3 defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id. “If at any time 4 before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the 5 case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). 6 The complaint in this case seeks to recover $5,701.17, substantially less than the 7 $75,000 threshold for diversity jurisdiction. Defendants’ reply to the motion does not 8 address this issue. See Docs. 13, 15. Defendants bear the burden “of establishing, by a 9 preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75,000].” Sanchez 10 v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996); see Matheson v. Progressive 11 Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). Because Defendants have not met 12 this burden, the Court concludes that it does not have diversity jurisdiction. 13 Defendants seem to argue that a federal question exists in this case because they will 14 ask the Court to declare unconstitutional an Arizona criminal statute (A.R.S. § 13-1921) that 15 is not at issue in this case. Doc. 15. The Court cannot see how the criminal statute will be 16 at issue in this case, but even if its constitutionality was raised by Defendants in an answer 17 or counterclaim, federal question jurisdiction must be determined solely by the face of the 18 complaint. As the Ninth Circuit has explained, “the existence of federal jurisdiction depends 19 solely on the plaintiff’s claims for relief and not on anticipated defenses to those claims.” 20 ARCO Envtl. Remediation v. Dep’t of Health & Envtl. Quality, 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 21 (9th Cir. 2000). The complaint in this case pleads nothing more than a simple breach of 22 contract claim. The complaint does not raise a federal question. 23 24 Because the Court lacks diversity and federal question jurisdiction over this case, it will remand the case to Highland Justice Court. 25 IT IS ORDERED: 26 1. 27 Plaintiff’s motion to dismiss (Doc. 9), construed as a motion to remand, is granted. The Clerk shall remand this case to Highland Justice Court. 28 -2- 1 2. All other pending motions (Docs. 2, 7, 8, 13, 15, 16) are denied as moot. 2 DATED this 3rd day of December, 2012. 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -3-

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