WLP Sycamores Apartments, LLC v. Cigarroa

Filing 11

ORDER signed by District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on 3/21/2017 REMANDING this matter to the Superior Court of California for the County of Solano; DENYING 2 Motion to Proceed IFP as moot. Copy of remand order sent to other court. CASE CLOSED. (Michel, G.)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 12 WLP SYCAMORES APARTMENTS, LLC, Plaintiff, 13 ORDER v. 14 15 No. 2:17-cv-0248-KJM-DB PS ESTEBAN CIGARROA, and DOES 1 through 10 inclusive, 16 Defendants. 17 18 On February 3, 2017, defendant Esteban Cigarroa, proceeding pro se, removed this 19 20 unlawful detainer action from Solano County Superior Court. ECF No. 1. Cigarroa also filed a 21 motion to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF No. 2. As explained below, the court REMANDS the 22 case to the Solano County Superior Court and DENIES as moot defendant’s motion to proceed in 23 forma pauperis. 24 I. 25 26 SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION A. Legal Standard When a case “of which the district courts of the United States have original 27 jurisdiction” is initially brought in state court, a defendant may remove it to federal court. 28 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). There are two primary bases for federal subject matter jurisdiction: (1) federal 1 1 question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and (2) diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 2 § 1332. 3 Under § 1331, district courts have federal question jurisdiction over “all civil 4 actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 5 Under the longstanding well-pleaded complaint rule, a suit “arises under” federal law “only when 6 the plaintiff’s statement of his own cause of action shows that it is based upon [federal law].” 7 Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908). Federal question jurisdiction 8 cannot rest on an actual or anticipated defense or counterclaim. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 9 U.S. 49, 60 (2009). 10 Under § 1332, district courts have diversity-of-citizenship jurisdiction where the 11 amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties are in complete diversity. 28 U.S.C. 12 § 1332. “Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75,000 is in 13 controversy, the removing party must prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount 14 in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold.” Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 15 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam). 16 A federal district court may remand a case sua sponte where a defendant has not 17 established federal jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it 18 appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded . . . .”); 19 see also Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583–84 (1999). 20 21 B. Discussion Cigarroa’s Notice of Removal asserts the court has federal question jurisdiction 22 under § 1331 because “Defendant’s Answer, a pleading depend [sic] on the determination of 23 Defendant’s rights and Plaintiff’s duties under federal law.” ECF No. 1 at 2. Plaintiff’s 24 complaint asserts only a claim for unlawful detainer, which is a matter of state law. See id. at 6. 25 As explained above, Cigarroa’s answer or counterclaim cannot serve as the basis 26 for federal question jurisdiction. Vaden, 556 U.S. at 60. Plaintiff is the master of the complaint 27 and may, as here, “avoid federal jurisdiction by pleading solely state-law claims.” Valles v. Ivy 28 2 1 Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir. 2005). Because plaintiff’s complaint does not plead a 2 basis in federal law, the court does not have federal question jurisdiction over the action. 3 Neither does the court appear to have diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff’s complaint 4 seeks possession of the premises, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees, past-due rent of $1,300.00, 5 forfeiture of the agreement, and damages of $47.57 per day for each day from January 1, 2017 6 until the date of judgment. ECF No. 1 at 8. Because these damages are not likely to total more 7 than $75,000, and Cigarroa has provided no other evidence or allegations as to the amount in 8 controversy, the court cannot exercise diversity jurisdiction over the action. 9 II. 10 REQUEST TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS For the foregoing reasons, the court has determined sua sponte that it lacks subject 11 matter jurisdiction, and thus remands the case to the Solano County Superior Court. Cf. 12 Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090 (“Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a case should be 13 remanded to state court.”). As a result, defendant’s motion for in forma pauperis status is moot. 14 III. 15 16 17 18 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, this action is REMANDED to Solano County Superior Court, and defendant’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED as moot. IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: March 21, 2017 19 20 21 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3

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