Federal National Mortgage Association v. Dominador O Nicolas III et al
MINUTE ORDER IN CHAMBERS by Judge Jesus G. Bernal REMANDING Action to California Superior Court for the County of San Bernardino: (see document image for further details). IT IS SO ORDERED. Case Terminated. Made JS-6 (Attachments: # 1 CV-103) (ad)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
EDCV 13-00619-JGB (DTB)
August 7, 2013
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation v. Dominador O. Nicolas III, et al.
Present: The Honorable
JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Attorney(s) Present for Plaintiff(s):
Attorney(s) Present for Defendant(s):
Minute Order REMANDING Action to California Superior Court for
the County of San Bernardino (IN CHAMBERS)
On July 25, 2012, Plaintiff Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation filed a complaint
for unlawful detainer ("Complaint") against Defendants Dominador O. Nicolas III ("Defendant")
and Does 1-10 in the California Superior Court for the County of San Bernardino. (Not. of
Removal, Doc. No. 1.) On April 5, 2013, Defendant Dominador O. Nicolas III removed the
action on the basis of federal question and diversity jurisdiction. (Not. of Removal at 1-3.)
Removal jurisdiction is governed by statute. See 28 U.S.C. §1441. The Ninth Circuit
applies a strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, ensuring "the defendant always has
the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th
Cir. 1992) (citing Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir.
1990)); see also In re Ford Motor Co./Citibank, 264 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2001) ("The party
asserting federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proving the case is properly in federal court.").
"If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); FW/PBS, Inc. v. Dallas, 493 U.S.
215, 231 (1990) ("federal courts are under an independent obligation to examine their own
jurisdiction"); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3) ("If the court determines at any time that it lacks
subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action.").
Defendant appears to allege two bases for removal: federal question jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1331 and diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. From the face of the
Complaint, however, Plaintiff's only claim is for unlawful detainer, a California state law action.
See Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 10 (1983) (defendant may
not remove case to federal court unless basis for federal jurisdiction apparent on the face of the
complaint). Accordingly, Defendants have not shown the Court has jurisdiction based on federal
question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Defendants also appear to allege that the basis for removal is diversity jurisdiction, 28
U.S.C. § 1332. Diversity jurisdiction requires that the amount in controversy exceed $75,000
and that the action be between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Defendants do
not allege the citizenship of Plaintiff Federal National Mortgage Association. (Not. of Removal
at 3.) Additionally, jurisdiction, including the amount in controversy, is determined at the
moment of removal. See Strotek Corp. v. Air Transp. Ass'n. of Am., 300 F.3d 1129, 1131 (9th
Cir. 2002). The amount in controversy is determined from the complaint itself, unless it appears
to a legal certainty that the claim is worth an amount other than that pled in the complaint.
Horton v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 367 U.S. 348, 354 (1961); Lowdermilk v. United States Bank
Nat'l Ass’n, 479 F.3d 994, 999 (9th Cir. 2007). In its Complaint, Plaintiff alleges that its
damages do not exceed $10,000, and it filed the action as a limited civil case. (Not. of Removal
at 1.) See CAL. CODE CIV. PROC. § 86 (classifying cases where the prayer is less than $25,000 as
limited civil cases). Consequently, it is clear that the amount in controversy does not exceed
$75,000,1 and the Court lacks diversity jurisdiction to hear the action.
"If it clearly appears on the face of the [Notice of Removal] and any exhibits annexed
thereto that removal should not be permitted, the court shall make an order for summary
remand." 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(4). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(4), the Court has examined
the Notice of Removal and concludes that Defendant has not met his burden of establishing that
this case is properly in federal court. See In re Ford Motor Co./Citibank (South Dakota), N.A.,
264 F.3d 952, 957 (9th Cir. 2001) ("The party asserting federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
proving the case is properly in federal court."). Accordingly, the Court REMANDS this
action to the Superior Court of California, San Bernardino County.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
In an unlawful detainer action, the appropriate measure of damages is the amount sought
in the complaint, not the value of the property. Federal Nat. Mortg. Ass’n v. Lemon, No. CV
11–03948 DDP (FFMx), 2011 WL 3204344, *2 (C.D. Cal. July 26, 2011) (“[T]he appropriate
damages in unlawful detainer actions remains the amount sought in the complaint, not the value of
the property itself”).
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