Wasatch Pool Holdings, Inc. v. Bailey

Filing 7

FINDINGS and RECOMMENDATIONS recommending that this 1 Action be remanded to state court, signed by Magistrate Judge Stanley A. Boone on 5/27/2015. Matter referred to Judge Nunley. Objections to F&R due by 6/17/2015. (Rosales, O)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 WASATCH POOL HOLDINGS, INC., 12 Plaintiff, FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS RECOMMENDING THAT THIS ACTION BE REMANDED TO STATE COURT v. 13 14 Case No. 1:15-cv-00776-TLN-SAB MARIO BAILEY, 15 OBJECTIONS DUE WITHIN TWENTYONE (21) DAYS Defendant. 16 17 On May 22, 2015, Defendant Mario Bailey (“Defendant”) filed the notice of removal in 18 this action. (ECF No. 1.) Plaintiff Wasatch Pool Holdings, Inc. (“Plaintiff”) filed the original 19 complaint in the Superior Court of California for the County of Fresno. The original complaint 20 raised a cause of action for unlawful detainer against Defendant. Defendant removed the action 21 to this Court and contend that jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 22 For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds that jurisdiction does not exist over this 23 action and recommends that the action be remanded back to state court. 24 / / / 25 / / / 26 / / / 27 / / / 28 / / / 1 1 I. 2 SUA SPONTE ASSESSMENT OF JURISDICTION District courts may dismiss a claim sua sponte1 under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 3 4 12(b)(6) if the Court gives notice of its intention to dismiss and afford plaintiffs an opportunity to 2 5 at least submit a written memorandum in opposition to such motion. Lee v. City of Los 6 Angeles, 250 F.3d 668, 683 n.7 (9th Cir. 2001) (quoting Omar v. Sea-Land Serv., Inc., 813 F.2d 7 986, 991 (9th Cir. 1987); Wong v. Bell, 642 F.2d 359, 362 (9th Cir. 1981)). Moreover, district 8 courts have authority to dismiss actions sua sponte for lack of jurisdiction. Franklin v. State of 9 Or., State Welfare Division, 662 F.2d 1337, 1342 (9th Cir. 1981). “[F]ederal courts are without 10 power to entertain claims otherwise within their jurisdiction if they are so attenuated and 11 unsubstantial as to be absolutely devoid of merit” and are “obviously frivolous.” Hagans v. 12 Lavine, 415 U.S. 528, 536-37 (1974) (internal quotations and citations omitted). 13 II. 14 DISCUSSION Defendant contends jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. District courts have 15 16 original jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the 17 United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. “The well-pleaded-complaint rule has long governed whether 18 a case „arises under‟ federal law for purposes of § 1331.” Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air 19 Circulation Systems, Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 830 (2002). “[F]ederal jurisdiction generally exists 20 „only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded 21 complaint.‟” Id. (quoting Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (italics in 22 original). Federal question jurisdictions cannot be premised on federal issues raised in a 23 defendant‟s answer or counterclaim. Id. 24 / / / 25 26 27 28 1 On May 26, 2015, contemporaneously with the Court‟s preparation of these Findings and Recommendations, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand. The Court will keep the motion and hearing date on calendar for now to decide the issue of attorney‟s fees. 2 Through these Findings and Recommendations, the Court gives Defendant notice of its intention to remand. Defendant has an opportunity to submit a written memorandum in opposition by filing objections to these Findings and Recommendations. 2 1 “The rule makes the plaintiff the master of the claim; he or she may avoid federal 2 jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state law.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 3 (1987). Moreover, “[i]t is a „long-settled understanding that the mere presence of a federal issue 4 in a state cause of action does not automatically confer federal-question jurisdiction.‟” Lippitt v. 5 Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., 340 F.3d 1033, 1040 (9th Cir. 2003) (quoting Merrell 6 Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986)). 7 Plaintiff‟s complaint for unlawful detainer is devoid of any federal issues. See First 8 Northern Bank of Dixon v. Hatanaka, No. 2:11-cv-02976 MCE KJN PS, 2011 WL 6328713, at 9 *3 (E.D. Cal. Dec. 16, 2011) (“Because a claim for unlawful detainer does not by itself present a 10 federal question or necessarily turn on the construction of federal law, no basis for federal 11 question jurisdiction appears on the face of the Complaint.”). 12 Defendant contends that federal question jurisdiction is proper based on issues arising 13 under the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3604. Defendant contends that he did not pay rent 14 owed to Plaintiff because Plaintiff discriminated against Defendant by refusing Defendant‟s 15 requests for reasonable modification of the leased premises and due to the existence of several 16 code violations. 17 Even if these allegations were true, they are issues that were not raised in Plaintiff‟s 18 complaint. Accordingly, Defendant‟s arguments are best characterized as defenses or 19 counterclaims, and therefore cannot serve as the basis of federal question jurisdiction. The Court 20 finds that removal was improper because this Court lacks jurisdiction over this action and that 21 this action should be remanded to state court. 22 III. 23 CONCLUSION AND RECOMMENDATION 24 The Court finds that it lacks jurisdiction over this action. Accordingly, it is HEREBY 25 RECOMMENDED that this matter be REMANDED to the Superior Court of California for the 26 County of Fresno. 27 These findings and recommendations are submitted to the district judge assigned to this 28 action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court‟s Local Rule 304. Within twenty- 3 1 one (21) days of service of this recommendation, any party may file written objections to these 2 findings and recommendations with the Court and serve a copy on all parties. Such a document 3 should be captioned “Objections to Magistrate Judge‟s Findings and Recommendations.” The 4 district judge will review the magistrate judge‟s findings and recommendations pursuant to 28 5 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that failure to file objections within the specified 6 time may result in the waiver of rights on appeal. Wilkerson v. Wheeler, 772 F.3d 834, 839 (9th 7 Cir. 2014) (citing Baxter v. Sullivan, 923 F.2d 1391, 1394 (9th Cir. 1991)). 8 9 IT IS SO ORDERED. 10 Dated: May 27, 2015 UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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