(UD)(PS)Alvernaz Partners, LLC v. Pitts

Filing 3

SUA SPONTE ORDER signed by District Judge John A. Mendez on 1/7/21 REMANDING CASE to San Joaquin County Superior Court and DENYING as moot 2 Motion to Proceed IFP. 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 ALVERNAZ PARTNERS, LLC, 12 Plaintiff, 13 v. 14 MARIA PITTS, 15 No. 2:21-cv-00011-JAM-CKD SUA SPONTE ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT Defendant. 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 The undersigned revokes any actual or anticipated referral to a Magistrate Judge for the purposes of Findings and Recommendations in this case. See Local Rule 302(d) (“Notwithstanding any other provision of this Rule, a Judge may retain any matter otherwise routinely referred to a Magistrate Judge.”). On January 4, 2021, Defendant Maria Pitts filed a Notice of 25 Removal with this Court, seeking to remove an action from San 26 Joaquin County Superior Court. 27 Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. For the following reasons, the Court sua sponte REMANDS this case 28 1 1 2 3 4 to San Joaquin County Superior Court. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove an action to federal court if the district court has original jurisdiction. Hunter v. Phillip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) 5 6 7 (quoting Ansley v. Ameriquest Mortg. Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003)). If at any time before final judgment it appears 8 that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the 9 case shall be remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Generally, a 10 defendant seeking to remove an action to federal court must file 11 a notice of removal within thirty days of receiving a copy of the 12 13 initial pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The defendant seeking removal of an action to federal court has the burden of 14 15 16 17 establishing federal jurisdiction in the case. California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004). Defendant is attempting to remove an unlawful detainer 18 action based on federal subject matter jurisdiction. 19 Removal at 2. 20 21 Notice of Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and lack inherent or general subject matter jurisdiction. Federal courts can adjudicate only those cases authorized by the 22 23 24 United States Constitution and Congress. Generally, those cases involve diversity of citizenship or a federal question, or cases 25 in which the United States is a party. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life 26 Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375 (1994); Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 27 545 (1989). Federal courts are presumptively without 28 2 1 jurisdiction over civil actions. 2 Lack of subject matter jurisdiction is never waived and may be 3 4 raised by the Court sua sponte. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Prods., Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996). 5 6 7 “Nothing is to be more jealously guarded by a court than its jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is what its power rests upon. Without 8 jurisdiction it is nothing.” 9 (9th Cir. 1988). 10 11 12 13 In re Mooney, 841 F.2d 1003, 1006 The Ninth Circuit has held that the removal statute should be strictly construed in favor of remand and against removal. Harris v. Bankers Life and Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The “strong presumption” against removal jurisdiction 14 15 16 means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Nishimoto v. Federman–Bachrach & 17 Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990); Emrich v. Touche 18 Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). 19 jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the 20 21 right of removal in the first instance. Federal Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). 22 23 24 In this case, Defendant is unable to establish subject matter jurisdiction before this Court because the complaint filed 25 in the state court apparently contains a single cause of action 26 for unlawful detainer. 27 within the province of state court. Unlawful detainer actions are strictly 28 3 A defendant’s attempt to 1 create federal subject matter jurisdiction by adding claims or 2 defenses to a notice of removal will not succeed. 3 4 Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 50 (2009) (federal question jurisdiction cannot “rest upon an actual or anticipated 5 6 7 counterclaim”); Valles v. Ivy Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir. 2005) (“A federal law defense to a state-law claim does 8 not confer jurisdiction on a federal court, even if the defense 9 is that of federal preemption and is anticipated in the 10 11 12 13 plaintiff’s complaint.”). In determining the presence or absence of federal jurisdiction in removal cases, the “well-pleaded complaint rule” applies, “which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only 14 15 16 when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. 17 Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). 18 established that plaintiff is the ‘master of her complaint’ and 19 can plead to avoid federal jurisdiction.” 20 21 Moreover, “it is well Lowdermilk v. U.S. Bank Nat’l Ass’n, 479 F.3d 994, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2007); Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63 (1987) (citing Gully v. 22 23 24 First Nat’l Bank, 299 U.S. 109 (1936)) (“It is long settled law that a cause of action arises under federal law only when the 25 plaintiff’s well-pleaded complaint raises issues of federal 26 law.”). 27 Plaintiff’s complaint raises a single state law claim. 28 4 The 1 face of a properly-pled state law unlawful detainer action does 2 not present a federal question. 3 4 Therefore, Plaintiff’s complaint avoids federal question jurisdiction. Defendant cannot inject a federal issue through her answer. 5 6 7 8 9 10 Accordingly, the Court REMANDS this case to San Joaquin County Superior Court for all future proceedings. Defendant’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis, ECF No. 2, is DENIED as moot. Dated: January 7, 2021 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5

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