Sacramento Winding Way Apartments, LP v. Martin

Filing 3

ORDER signed by District Judge Troy L. Nunley on 1/8/2018 REMANDING CASE to Sacramento County Superior Court. Copy of remand order sent to other court; GRANTING 2 Motion to Proceed IFP CASE CLOSED (Washington, S)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 11 FOR THE EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 12 13 14 SACRAMENTO WINDING WAY APARTMENTS LP, Plaintiff, 15 16 17 18 No. 2:18-cv-00012-TLN-KJN ORDER REMANDING CASE v. GEORGINA L. MARTIN, Defendant. This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Georgina L. Martin’s (“Defendant”) 19 Notice of Removal and motion to proceed in forma pauperis. (ECF Nos. 1 & 2.) For the reasons 20 set forth below, Defendant’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is GRANTED. The Court 21 hereby remands the action to the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento, due to lack 22 of subject matter jurisdiction. 23 I. 24 FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY On November 29, 2017, Plaintiff Sacramento Winding Way Apartments LP (“Plaintiff”) 25 filed an unlawful detainer action in the Superior Court of California, County of Sacramento. 26 (Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1 at 2.) On January 4, 2018, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal in 27 the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California. (ECF No. 1.) Defendant 28 1 1 asserts that removal is proper because (i) “[t]he complaint presents federal questions” and (ii) 2 “[f]ederal question jurisdiction exists because Defendants [sic] pleading depend [sic] on the 3 determination of Defendant’s rights and Plaintiff’s duties under federal law.” (ECF No. 1 at ¶¶ 4, 4 7.) For the reasons stated below, this Court finds that subject matter jurisdiction does not exist 5 and thus this case must be remanded. 6 II. 7 28 U.S.C. § 1441 permits the removal to federal court of any civil action over which “the 8 district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Removal is 9 proper only if the court could have exercised jurisdiction over the action had it originally been 10 STANDARD OF LAW filed in federal court. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). 11 Courts “strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction,” and “the 12 defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 13 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam). Furthermore, “[i]f the district court at any time 14 determines that it lacks jurisdiction over the removed action, it must remedy the improvident 15 grant of removal by remanding the action to state court.” California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, 16 Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004). The “presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well-pleaded 17 18 complaint rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is 19 presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392. 20 Removal cannot be based on a defense, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party claim raising a 21 federal question, whether filed in state court or federal court. See Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 22 U.S. 49, 60–61 (2009); Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042–43 (9th Cir. 2009). 23 III. 24 Defendant removed this case to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction. 25 ANALYSIS (ECF No. 1 at 2.) Defendant argues that jurisdiction is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) or (b).1 26 27 28 1 Defendant fails to explain how or why subject matter jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). In fact, other than Defendant’s passing mention of §1441(b), Defendant fails to discuss diversity jurisdiction. Nonetheless, this Court discusses below why removal is improper under §1441(b). 2 1 (ECF No. 1 at 2.) For jurisdiction to exist under § 1441(a), a federal question must be presented 2 on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint. Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392. Here, 3 Defendant states without explanation that the “complaint presents federal questions.” (ECF No. 1 4 at ¶ 4.) However, Plaintiff’s complaint for unlawful detainer does not present a federal question 5 on its face. See, e.g., DVP, LP v. Champ, No. 1:15-cv-00074-LJO-SKO, 2015 WL 12681672, at 6 *2 (E.D. Cal. Jan. 29, 2015) (“[A]n unlawful detainer action, on its face, fails to raise a federal 7 question.”). Defendant further claims that her Answer implicates federal questions because it 8 requires a “determination of Defendant’s rights and Plaintiff’s duties under federal law.” (ECF 9 No. 1 at ¶ 7.) An answer cannot confer federal question jurisdiction on this Court. See Vaden, 10 556 U.S. at 60 (explaining federal jurisdiction can neither be “predicated on an actual or 11 anticipated defense” nor “rest upon an actual or anticipated counterclaim”). To the extent Plaintiff’s notice of removal seeks removal on the basis of Section 1441(b), 12 13 this too fails. Section 1441(b) allows for a case to be removed to federal court on the basis of 14 diversity jurisdiction if the requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) are met. Section 1332(a) confers 15 diversity jurisdiction “where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, 16 exclusive of interest and costs, and is between—(1) citizens of different States.” In an unlawful 17 detainer action, only the right to possession of the property is at issue, not the title. See Deutsche 18 Bank Nat’l Trust Co. v. Yanez, ED-15-CV-02462-VAP-DTBx, 2016 WL 591752, at *2 (C.D. Cal. 19 February 11, 2016) (citing Evans v. Superior Court, 67 Cal. App. 3d 162, 170 (1977)). 20 Consequently, the amount in controversy is determined by the amount sought in the complaint. 21 See id. Here, Defendant fails to meet the $75,000 threshold as Plaintiff seeks less than $10,000 in 22 its complaint. (See ECF No. 1-1 at 3.) 23 Thus, Defendant has failed to establish the burden of showing that jurisdiction before this 24 Court is proper, and it is appropriate to remand this case, sua sponte, for lack of federal 25 jurisdiction. See United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th 26 Cir. 2004) (“[T]he district court ha[s] a duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction over the 27 removed action sua sponte, whether the parties raised the issue or not.”). 28 /// 3 1 IV. 2 For the foregoing reasons, the Court hereby remands this action to the Superior Court of CONCLUSION 3 California, County of Sacramento. In removing this case, Defendant filed a motion to proceed in 4 forma pauperis. (See ECF No. 2.) The Court has reviewed this motion and finds that Defendant 5 meets the requirements of in forma pauperis status and thus grants Defendant’s request. 6 IT IS SO ORDERED. 7 8 Dated: January 8, 2018 9 10 11 12 Troy L. Nunley United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4

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