Guillory v. Guillory et al

Filing 4

ORDER signed by District Judge Kimberly J. Mueller on 9/11/17 ORDERING that this action is REMANDED to Solano County Superior Court. Copy of remand order sent to other court. and Defendants' MOTIONS to proceed in forma pauperis 2 and 3 are DENIED. CASE CLOSED. (Mena-Sanchez, L)

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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 BRANDY GUILLORY, 12 Plaintiff, 13 14 15 No. 2:17-cv-1814-KJM-AC-PS v. ORDER RICKEY GUILLORY, VERONICA GUILLORY, and DOES 1 to 10, Defendants. 16 17 On August 31, 2017, defendants Rickey Guillory and Veronica Guillory, 18 19 proceeding pro se, removed this unlawful detainer action from Solano County Superior Court. 20 ECF No. 1. Defendants also filed motions to proceed in forma pauperis. ECF Nos. 2–3. As 21 explained below, the court REMANDS the case to the Solano County Superior Court and 22 DENIES as moot Defendants’ motions to proceed in forma pauperis. 23 I. 24 25 SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION A. Legal Standard When a case “of which the district courts of the United States have original 26 jurisdiction” is initially brought in state court, a defendant may remove it to federal court. 28 27 U.S.C. § 1441(a). There are two primary bases for federal subject matter jurisdiction: (1) federal 28 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 upon 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 Enrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988) (citing Wilson v. Republic 20 Iron & Steel Co., 257 U.S. 92, 97 (1921)). 21 22 B. Discussion Defendants’ Notice of Removal asserts the court has federal question jurisdiction 23 under § 1331 because “Defendant’s Demurrer, a pleading depend [sic] on the determination of 24 Defendant’s rights and Plaintiff’s duties under federal law.” ECF No. 1 at 2. The complaint 25 plaintiff filed in state court asserts only a claim for unlawful detainer, which is a matter of state 26 law. See ECF No. 1 at 6. 27 28 As explained above, defendants’ answer or counterclaim cannot serve as the basis for federal question jurisdiction. Vaden, 556 U.S. at 60. Plaintiff is the master of the complaint 2 1 and may, as here, “avoid federal jurisdiction by pleading solely state-law claims.” Valles v. Ivy 2 Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir. 2005). Because plaintiff’s complaint does not show 3 that it is based upon federal law, the court does not have federal question jurisdiction over the 4 action. 5 Neither does the court appear to have diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff’s complaint 6 seeks possession of the premises, costs and reasonable attorney’s fees, past-due rent of $3,513.00, 7 forfeiture of the agreement, and damages of $41.66 per day for each day from August 1, 2017, 8 until the date of judgment. ECF No. 1 at 8. Because these damages are not likely to total more 9 than $75,000, and defendants have provided no other evidence or allegations as to the amount in 10 controversy, the court cannot exercise diversity jurisdiction over the action. 11 II. 12 REQUEST TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS For the foregoing reasons, the court has determined sua sponte that it lacks subject 13 matter jurisdiction, and thus remands the case to the Solano County Superior Court. Cf. 14 Matheson, 319 F.3d at 1090 (“Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a case should be 15 remanded to state court.”). As a result, defendants’ motions for in forma pauperis status are 16 moot. 17 III. 18 19 20 21 CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, this action is REMANDED to Solano County Superior Court, and defendants’ motions to proceed in forma pauperis are DENIED as moot. IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: September 11, 2017. 22 23 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 24 25 26 27 28 3

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