DVP, LP v. Champ

Filing 7

ORDER Remanding Action To Tulare County Superior Court (Doc. 1 ), signed by District Judge Lawrence J. O'Neill on 4/13/2015. REMANDING CASE to Superior Court of Tulare County. Copy of remand order sent to Superior Court of Tulare County. CASE CLOSED. (Fahrney, E)

Download PDF
1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 7 DVP, LP No. 1:15-cv-00454-LJO-GSA 8 Plaintiff, 9 10 11 12 ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO TULARE COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT v. DARNELL CHAMP, (Doc. 1) Defendant. 13 14 INTRODUCTION 15 Pro se defendant Darnell Champ ("Defendant”) removed this case from the Superior Court of 16 Tulare County on March 24, 2015, asserting that this Court has federal question jurisdiction under 28 17 U.S.C. § 1331. Doc. 1 at 2. Defendant contends that he was served by the plaintiff, DVP, LP 18 (“Plaintiff”), with a notice which “expressly references and incorporates the ‘Protecting Tenants at 19 Foreclosure Act of 2009,’ 12 U.S.C. § 5201,” and that removal of the action is thus warranted 20 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Id. 21 DISCUSSION 22 A. The Court Must Address Subject Matter Jurisdiction Sua Sponte 23 A district court has “a duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction over [a] removed action sua 24 sponte, whether the parties raise[ ] the issue or not.” United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, 25 Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir. 2004). The removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, must be “strictly 26 construed against removal jurisdiction.” Provincial Gov’t of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 27 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009). As a result, any ambiguities should be resolved “in favor of remand 28 1 1 to state court.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009). A defendant “bears 2 the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Marinduque, 582 F.3d at 1087. Any defects in the 3 Court’s subject matter jurisdiction require remand; the duty to remand under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) is 4 “mandatory, not discretionary.” Bruns v. NCUA, 122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997). 5 B. Defendant Fails to Demonstrate that Subject Matter Jurisdiction Exists 6 Determination of federal question jurisdiction “is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint 7 rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the 8 face of plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” California v. United States, 215 F.3d 1005, 1014 (9th 9 Cir. 2000), quoting Audette v. Int’l Longshoremen’s & Warehousemen’s Union, 195 F.3d 1107, 1111 10 (9th Cir. 1999). It is not enough to “show that a federal question lurks somewhere inside the parties’ 11 controversy.” Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 70 (2009). Rather, courts must determine federal 12 jurisdiction based solely on what “necessarily appears in the plaintiff’s statement of his own claim in 13 the bill or declaration, unaided by anything in anticipation of avoidance of defenses which it is 14 thought the defendant may interpose.” California, 215 F.3d at 1014. The record indicates that Defendant is named in a state court complaint (“the Complaint”) 15 16 seeking unlawful detainer relief solely on the basis of California law. Doc. 1 at 9-11; also see Fannie 17 Mae v. Suarez, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82300, at *6 (E.D. Cal. 2011) (“Unlawful detainer actions are 18 strictly the province of state court”); Deutsche Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Leonardo, 2011 U.S. Dist. 19 LEXIS 83854, at * 2 (C.D. Cal. 2011) (“the complaint only asserts a claim for unlawful detainer, a 20 cause of action that is purely a matter of state law”). The Complaint contains no reference, express or 21 otherwise, to any federal statute, regulation, or other federal law. Doc. 1 at 9-11. Defendant cannot 22 create federal jurisdiction through the mere invocation of a federal statute in his notice of removal. 23 Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 (“it is now settled law that a case may not be removed 24 to federal court on the basis of a federal defense…even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff’s 25 complaint, and even if both parties concede that the federal defense is the only question truly at 26 issue”). 27 Defendant asserts that Plaintiff’s claim is “based upon a notice which expressly references and 28 incorporates the ‘Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009,’” 12 U.S.C. § 5201 (the “Act”). Doc. 2 1 1 at 2. Defendant further states that the provisions of the Act provide a defense against the claim 2 alleged in the Complaint. Doc. 1 at 3. However, as explained above, the face of the Complaint is 3 devoid of any reference to this statute, and the possibility that a federal statute may form a portion of a 4 defense to a claim does not confer federal jurisdiction. Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393. Even if 5 Defendant received a notice before the Complaint was filed that briefly referenced the Act, the Act 6 does not form the basis of the Complaint.1 The Act thus cannot be used to establish federal 7 jurisdiction merely because Defendant believes he will be able to assert a defense to the Complaint 8 based on its provisions. Id. Accordingly, this case is remanded to the Tulare County Superior Court. 9 C. Rule 11 Sanctions 10 The Court notes that this is the third time that Defendant has removed this same case from 11 Tulare County Superior Court to this Court. Indeed, Defendant initiated the instant removal 12 proceedings despite the issuance of two prior remand orders clarifying that this Court does not have 13 jurisdiction over this unlawful detainer action. See Doc. 11, DVP, LP v. Champ, Case No. 1:14-cv- 14 01476---MJS and Doc, 10, DVP, LP v. Champ, Case No. 1:15-cv-00074-LJO-SKO. Defendant is 15 hereby advised that this Court will sua sponte initiate proceedings to impose sanctions pursuant to 16 Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure in the event of any further attempts to remove this 17 case here. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 11(c)(3). Rule 11 provides in pertinent part: 18 By presenting to the court a pleading, written motion, or other paper--whether by signing, filing, submitting, or later advocating it--an attorney or unrepresented party certifies that to the best of the person's knowledge, information, and belief, formed after an inquiry reasonable under the circumstances: (1) it is not being presented for any improper purpose, such as to harass, cause unnecessary delay, or needlessly increase the cost of litigation; [and] (2) the claims, defenses, and other legal contentions are warranted by existing law or by a nonfrivolous argument for extending, modifying, or reversing existing law or for establishing new law[.] 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 Defendant has ample notice that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this unlawful detainer action. Therefore any subsequent attempt to remove this case to this Court would constitute a violation of Rule 11. Defendant is further advised that upon a finding that he has violated Rule 11, the 27 1 28 Notably, other federal courts have held that the Act merely “provides directives to state courts,” rather than creates any special federal right of action. Deutsche Bank, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83854, at *1 n.3. 3 1 Court may impose any sanction authorized by Rule 11(c)(4), including an order requiring Defendant 2 to pay a monetary penalty or part or all of Plaintiff DVP, LP’s reasonable attorney’s fees and other 3 expenses directly resulting from the violation. 4 CONCLUSION AND ORDER 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Defendant's papers fail to establish this Court’s subject matter jurisdiction to support removal of the unlawful detainer action. As such, this Court: 1. REMANDS to the Superior Court of Tulare County, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), this and any other unlawful detainer action which Defendant attempts to remove to this Court; and 2. DIRECTS the clerk to take necessary action to remand this unlawful detainer action to the Superior Court of Tulare County. IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 Dated: /s/ Lawrence J. O’Neill April 13, 2015 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?