Empire Management, LLC v. Ashley L. Prentiss et al

Filing 7

ORDER REMANDING ACTION AND DENYING REQUEST TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS by Judge Fernando M. Olguin that this case is REMANDED to the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, forthwith. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis is DENIED as moot. (Made JS-6 Case Terminated.) (jp)

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FILED CLERK, U.S. DISTRICT COURT 1 SEPT 12 2017 2 3 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 4 vdr BY: ___________________ DEPUTY 5 JS-6 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 EMPIRE MANAGEMENT, LLC, Case No. CV 17-06600-FMO (RAOx) Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 14 ASHLEY L. PRENTISS, et al., 15 ORDER REMANDING ACTION AND DENYING REQUEST TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS Defendants. 16 17 I. 18 FACTUAL BACKGROUND Plaintiff Empire Management, LLC (“Plaintiff”) filed an unlawful detainer 19 20 action in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Defendants Ashley L. 21 Prentiss, Ashanti M. Watson, and Does 1-10, on or about July 19, 2017. Notice of 22 Removal (“Removal”) and Attached Complaint (“Compl.”), Dkt. No. 1. 23 Defendants are allegedly former tenants of real property located in Sherman Oaks, 24 California (“the property”). Compl. ¶¶ 1, 3, 6. Plaintiff, who is the owner of the 25 property, has filed the unlawful detainer action for nonpayment of rent. Id. ¶¶ 1, 4, 26 6. 27 Defendant Ashley L. Prentiss (“Defendant Prentiss”) filed a Notice of 28 Removal on September 7, 2017, invoking the Court’s federal question jurisdiction 1 based on the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act 2009, 12 U.S.C. § 5220 2 (“PTFA”). Removal at 2-7. 3 4 The same day, Defendant Prentiss filed a Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis. Dkt. No. 2. 5 II. 6 DISCUSSION 7 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter 8 jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and statute. See, e.g., 9 Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S. Ct. 1673, 128 10 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). It is this Court’s duty always to examine its own subject 11 matter jurisdiction, see Arbaugh v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126 S. Ct. 1235, 12 163 L.Ed.2d 1097 (2006), and the Court may remand a case summarily if there is 13 an obvious jurisdictional issue. Cf. Scholastic Entm’t, Inc. v. Fox Entm’t Grp., Inc., 14 336 F.3d 982, 985 (9th Cir. 2003) (“While a party is entitled to notice and an 15 opportunity to respond when a court contemplates dismissing a claim on the merits, 16 it is not so when the dismissal is for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.”) (omitting 17 internal citations). A defendant attempting to remove an action from state to 18 federal court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. See Scott v. 19 Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986). Further, a “strong presumption” 20 against removal jurisdiction exists. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th 21 Cir. 1992). 22 Defendant Prentiss asserts that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction due 23 to the existence of a federal question. Removal at 2-6. Section 1441 provides, in 24 relevant part, that a defendant may remove to federal court a civil action in state 25 court of which the federal court has original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). 26 Section 1331 provides that federal “district courts shall have original jurisdiction of 27 all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United 28 States.” See id. § 1331. 2 1 Here, the Court’s review of the Notice of Removal and attached Complaint 2 makes clear that this Court does not have federal question jurisdiction over the 3 instant matter under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. First, there is no federal question apparent 4 from the face of the Complaint, which appears to allege only a simple unlawful 5 detainer cause of action. See Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, No. CV 10-8203 6 GAF (SSx), 2010 WL 4916578, *2 (C.D.Cal. Nov. 22, 2010) (“An unlawful 7 detainer action does not arise under federal law.”) (citation omitted); IndyMac 8 Federal Bank, F.S.B. v. Ocampo, No. EDCV 09-2337 PA(DTBx), 2010 WL 9 234828, at *2 (C.D.Cal. Jan. 13, 2010) (remanding an action to state court for lack 10 of subject matter jurisdiction where plaintiff’s complaint contained only an 11 unlawful detainer claim). 12 Second, there is no merit to Defendant Prentiss’s contention that federal 13 question jurisdiction exists based on the asserted defense that Plaintiff did not allow 14 the 90-day notice period required under the PTFA to lapse before filing the 15 unlawful detainer action. Removal at 2-6. The PTFA does not create a private 16 right of action; rather, it provides a defense to state law unlawful detainer actions. 17 See Logan v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass’n, 722 F.3d 1163, 1164 (9th Cir. 2013) (affirming 18 dismissal of the complaint because the PTFA “does not create a private right of 19 action allowing [plaintiff] to enforce its requirements”). It is well settled that a 20 “case may not be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense . . . even 21 if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff’s complaint, and even if both parties 22 concede that the federal defense is the only question truly at issue.” Caterpillar, 23 482 U.S. at 393, 107 S. Ct. at 2430. Thus, to the extent Defendant Prentiss’s 24 defenses to the unlawful detainer action are based on alleged violations of federal 25 law, those defenses do not provide a basis for federal question jurisdiction. See id. 26 Because Plaintiff’s complaint does not present a federal question, either on its face 27 or as artfully pled, the Court lacks jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 28 /// 3 1 III. 2 CONCLUSION 3 4 5 6 7 Accordingly, IT IS ORDERED that this case is REMANDED to the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, forthwith. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendant’s Request to Proceed In Forma Pauperis is DENIED as moot. IT IS SO ORDERED. 8 9 DATED: September 12, 2017 ____________/s/____________________________ 10 FERNANDO M. OLGUIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 Presented by: ________________________________________ ROZELLA A. OLIVER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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