MD Atkinson Company Inc. v. Reese

Filing 4

ORDER Directing The Clerk To Assign A United States District Judge To The Action, FINDINGS And RECOMMENDATIONS Remanding The Matter To Kern County Superior Court For Lack Of Jurisdiction, signed by Magistrate Judge Jennifer L. Thurston on 3/25/2015.(Objections to F&R due by 4/10/2015), New Case Number: 1:15-cv-447-LJO-JLT. (Fahrney, E)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 MD ATKINSON COMPANY INC., Plaintiff, 12 v. 13 14 DESTREA REESE, Defendant. 15 16 ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Case No.: 1:15-cv-00447 - --- - JLT ORDER DIRECTING THE CLERK TO ASSIGN A UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE TO THE ACTION FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS REMANDING THE MATTER TO KERN COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION 17 18 Defendant Destrea Reese seeks the removal of the unlawful detainer action initiated by MD 19 Atkinson Company, Inc., in Kern County Superior Court Case No. S-1500-CL-289579.1 (Doc. 1.) 20 Because an action for unlawful detainer arises under California law, the Court lacks subject matter 21 jurisdiction over the complaint. Accordingly, the Court recommends the action be REMANDED to 22 Kern County Superior Court. 23 I. 24 Removal Jurisdiction Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant has the right to remove a matter to federal court 25 26 27 28 1 The Court may take notice of facts that are capable of accurate and ready determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned. Fed. R. Evid. 201(b); United States v. Bernal-Obeso, 989 F.2d 331, 333 (9th Cir. 1993). The accuracy of the Court’s records cannot reasonably be questioned, and judicial notice may be taken of court records. Mullis v. United States Bank. Ct., 828 F.2d 1385, 1388 n.9 (9th Cir. 1987); Valerio v. Boise Cascade Corp., 80 F.R.D. 626, 635 n.1 (N.D. Cal. 1978), aff’d 645 F.2d 699 (9th Cir. 1981); see also Colonial Penn Ins. Co. v. Coil, 887 F.2d 1236, 1239 (4th Cir. 1989); Rodic v. Thistledown Racing Club, Inc., 615 F.2d 736, 738 (6th Cir. 1980). Therefore, judicial notice is taken of the docket in Case No. S-1500-CL-289579. 1 1 where the district court would have original jurisdiction. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 286, 2 392 (1987). Specifically, Except otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any 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 or defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending. 3 4 5 6 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). District courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the 7 Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Id. at § 1331. 8 9 A party seeking removal must file a notice of removal of a civil action within thirty days of receipt of a copy of the initial pleading. Id. at § 1446(b). Removal statutes are to be strictly construed, 10 and any doubts are to be resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction and remand. See Gaus v. Miles, 11 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of proving its 12 propriety. Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996); Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 13 676, 683-85 (9th Cir. 2006); see also Calif. ex. rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 2274 F.3d 831, 838 (“the 14 burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls to the party invoking the statute”). If there is any doubt 15 as to the right of removal, “federal jurisdiction must be rejected.” Duncan, 76 F.3d at 1485. 16 The district court has “a duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction over [a] removed action 17 sua sponte, whether the parties raised the issue or not.” United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & 18 Reed, Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Kelton Arms Condo. Homeowners Ass’n v. 19 Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192-93 (9th Cir. 2003) (noting a distinction between procedural 20 and jurisdictional defects and holding that a “district court must remand if it lacks jurisdiction”). Thus, 21 the Sixth Circuit explained that a court “can, in fact must, dismiss a case when it determines that it 22 lacks subject matter jurisdiction, whether or not a party has a filed a motion.” Page v. City of 23 Southfield, 45 F.3d 128, 133 (6th Cir. 1995). 24 II. Discussion and Analysis 25 Defendant Destrea Reese asserts that this court has jurisdiction over the complaint pursuant to 26 28 U.S.C. § 1441 because the “[p]laintiff has actually filed a Federal Question action in State Court.” 27 (Doc. 1 at 2.) The determination of subject matter jurisdiction “is governed by the ‘well-pleaded 28 complaint rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is 2 1 presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392. 2 Therefore, the complaint must establish “either that [1] federal law creates the cause of action or that 3 [2] the plaintiff’s right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal 4 law.” Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage Leasehold & Easement, 524 5 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 6 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983)). Significantly, the only cause of action identified by the plaintiff is for unlawful detainer. An 7 8 unlawful detainer action does not arise under federal law, but arises instead under state law. See 9 Fannie Mae v. Suarez, 2011U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82300, at *6 (E.D. Cal. July 27, 2011) (“Unlawful 10 detainer actions are strictly within the province of state court”); Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co v. 11 Leonardo, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83854, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 1, 2011) (“the complaint only asserts a 12 claim for unlawful detainer, a cause of action that is purely a matter of state law”). Thus, the plaintiff 13 has not raised a claim that invokes federal subject matter jurisdiction. 14 In addition, Ms. Reese seeks to invoke federal jurisdiction because she claims the plaintiff 15 violated the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 by providing insufficient notice before 16 initiating eviction proceedings. (Doc. 1 at 2-4.) However, claims arising under the Protecting Tenants 17 at Foreclosure Act “are best characterized as defenses or potential counterclaims; neither of which are 18 considered in evaluating whether a federal question appears on the face of a plaintiff’s complaint. First 19 Northern Bank of Dixon v. Hatanaka, , 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145066, at *11-12 (E.D. Cal. Dec.16, 20 2011) (citing Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 59 (2009)). Moreover, “federal district courts 21 have held that the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act does not create a federal private right of 22 action.” Aurora Loan Servs., LLC v. Montoya, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 129905, at *7, n. 3 (E.D. Cal., 23 Nov. 9, 2011). Accordingly, the Court does not have jurisdiction over the action based upon 24 Defendant’s claim that the plaintiff violated the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act. 25 III. 26 Rooker-Feldman Doctrine Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, a party may not seek appellate review in federal court of a 27 decision made by a state court. See Rooker v. Fidelity Trust Co., 263 U.S. 413 (1923); D.C. Court of 28 Appeals v. Feldman, 460 U.S. 462 (1983). The Ninth Circuit explained, 3 Typically, the Rooker-Feldman doctrine bars federal courts from exercising subjectmatter jurisdiction over a proceeding in which a party losing in state court seeks what in substance would be appellate review of the state judgment in a United States district court, based on the losing party's claim that the state judgment itself violates the losers’ federal rights. 1 2 3 4 Doe v. Mann, 415 F.3d 1038, 1041-42 (9th Cir. 2005); see also Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Saudi Basic 5 Indus. Corp., 544 U.S. 280, 284 (2005) (the Rooker-Feldman doctrine precludes a district court from 6 appellate review of “cases brought by state-court losers complaining of injuries caused by state-court 7 judgments rendered before the district court proceeding commenced . . .”). Accordingly, the district 8 court lacks jurisdiction over “claims . . . ‘inextricably intertwined’ with the state court’s decision such 9 that the adjudication of the federal claims would undercut the state ruling.” Bianchi v. Rylaarsdam, 334 10 F.3d 895, 898 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Feldman, 460 U.S. at 483, 485)). Here, the state court docket indicates that the court has determined judgment should be entered 11 12 against Defendant, and Plaintiff’s counsel was ordered “to prepare judgment for signature” on March 13 23, 2015. Thus, it appears the Rooker-Feldman bars this court from review of the arguments presented 14 by Defendant in the Notice of Removal. Moreover, given the posture of the case, it appears the 15 attempted removal of this action was designed only to thwart the state court judgment and to delay 16 process; this is improper. 17 IV. Conclusion Because there is no federal question appearing in the complaint, the Court cannot exercise 18 19 jurisdiction over this action and the matter must be remanded to the state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 20 1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter 21 jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded”). Moreover, it appears Ms. Reese is seeking to obtain federal 22 court review of a state court action which is prohibited. 23 V. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to assign a United States District Judge to this action 24 25 Order VI. Findings and Recommendations 26 Based upon the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY RECOMMENED: 27 1. The matter be REMANDED to the Superior Court of Kern County; and 28 2. The Clerk of Court be DIRECTED to close this matter. 4 1 These Findings and Recommendations are submitted to the United States District Judge 2 assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and Rule 304 of the Local 3 Rules of Practice for the United States District Court, Eastern District of California. Within 14 days 4 after being served with these Findings and Recommendations, any party may file written objections 5 with the Court. Such a document should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge’s Findings and 6 Recommendations.” The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified time may 7 waive the right to appeal the District Court’s order. Martinez v. Ylst, 951 F.2d 1153 (9th Cir. 1991). 8 9 10 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: March 25, 2015 /s/ Jennifer L. Thurston UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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