Lee v. Mancuso et al

Filing 3

ORDER REMANDING CASE to San Joaquin County Superior Court signed by District Judge Troy L. Nunley on 5/16/17. CASE CLOSED. (Kaminski, H)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 JORDAN LEE, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 No. 2:17-cv-01009-TLN-AC v. ORDER JAMES L. MANCUSO, ARNOLD S. CARLON; and DOES 1 to 10, inclusive, Defendants. 16 17 This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant James L. Mancuso’s (“Defendant”) 18 19 Notice of Removal. (ECF No. 1.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court remands the action 20 to the Superior Court of California, County of San Joaquin. 21 I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY 22 On November 1, 2016, Plaintiff Jordan Lee (“Plaintiff”) filed an unlawful detainer action 23 in the San Joaquin County Superior Court of California. (Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1 at 6–7.) 24 On May 15, 2017, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal in the United States District Court, 25 Eastern District of California, alleging that this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 26 and 1441. (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Defendant included a copy of the state court summons in his filing 27 in this Court, but has not provided any other documents, pleadings, or orders from the state court 28 case. 1 1 II. 2 28 U.S.C. § 1441 permits the removal to federal court of any civil action over which “the 3 district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Removal is 4 proper only if the court could have exercised jurisdiction over the action had it originally been 5 filed in federal court.” Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). STANDARD OF LAW 6 Courts “strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction,” and “the 7 defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 8 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). 9 28 U.S.C. § 1446 requires a defendant removing a civil action from a state court to a 10 district court to include “a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal, together with a 11 copy of all process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a). 12 Section 1446 also requires that the “notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall 13 be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy 14 of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is 15 based, or within 30 days after the service of summons upon the defendant if such initial pleading 16 has then been filed in court and is not required to be served on the defendant, whichever period is 17 shorter.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1). 18 III. ANALYSIS 19 Defendant removed this case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. 20 However, Defendant did not include the required documents in his filing — specifically, he did 21 not include the pleading Plaintiff filed in state court. Defendant’s filing, therefore, fails to meet 22 the minimum requirements. 23 Further, the Court cannot properly evaluate Defendant’s filing without those documents. 24 The “presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well-pleaded 25 complaint rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is 26 presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 386. 27 Without Plaintiff’s state court pleading, this Court cannot determine whether federal question 28 jurisdiction is appropriate. 2 1 Defendant has not met his burden of showing that jurisdiction before this Court is proper. 2 Therefore, it is appropriate to remand this case, sua sponte, for lack of federal jurisdiction. See 3 United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir. 2004) (“the 4 district court ha[s] a duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction over the removed action sua 5 sponte, whether the parties raised the issue or not.”). 6 As to the merits, Defendant appears to assert jurisdiction on the basis of his defenses. 7 Removal cannot be based on a defense, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party claim raising a 8 federal question, whether filed in state court or federal court. See Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 9 U.S. 49 (2009); Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042–43 (9th Cir. 2009). 10 Defendant alleges that he withheld rent due to discrimination, relating to the dwelling’s condition, 11 pursuant to provisions of the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. §§ 3604(f)(3)(A) and 3604(f)(3)(C)(ii)– 12 (iii). (ECF No. 1 at 3–4.) Defendant cannot base removal on the defenses he asserts. 13 Additionally, Defendant has filed pro se, but it appears he is trying to remove the case on 14 behalf of himself and his co-defendants. A party may represent himself and manage his own case 15 in federal court. 28 U.S.C.A. § 1654. “It is well established that the privilege to represent oneself 16 pro se provided by § 1654 is personal to the litigant and does not extend to other parties or 17 entities.” Simon v. Hartford Life, Inc., 546 F.3d 661, 664 (9th Cir. 2008). Defendant Mancuso, a 18 pro se litigant who does not purport to be licensed to practice law in California, cannot represent 19 or file on behalf of any of his co-defendants. 20 21 Finally, the Court notes that this action may not have been timely filed as Defendant appears to have filed well after the 30-day period required by 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1). 22 IV. 23 For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby REMANDS this action to the Superior Court 24 of California, County of San Joaquin. Defendant’s motion for in forma pauperis status (ECF No. 25 2), meets the requisite standard. Defendant’s motion for in forma pauperis status is GRANTED. 26 27 CONCLUSION IT IS SO ORDERED. Dated: May 16, 2017 28 3 Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge

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