CAM IX Trust v. Bowdler et al

Filing 4

ORDER: (1) Sua Sponte Remanding Action to State Court for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction (Doc. No. 1 ); and (2) Denying Motion to Proceed In Forma Pauperis as Moot (Doc. No. 3 ). Signed by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on 10/12/2016.(All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service; certified copy of Order sent to State Court)(dls)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 CAM IX TRUST, Case No.: 16-CV-2419-AJB-DHB Plaintiff, 12 13 14 (1) SUA SPONTE REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION (Doc. No. 1); v. DENISE T. BOWDLER AND DOES 1 TO 10, 15 Defendants. 16 (2) DENYING MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AS MOOT (Doc. No. 3); 17 18 19 On September 27, 2016, Defendant Denise Bowdler (“Removing Defendant”), 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 acting pro se, filed a notice of removal of an unlawful detainer action filed in San Diego Superior Court, (Doc. No. 1), and an application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 3.) The notice of removal seeks to remove an unlawful detainer proceeding initiated in San Diego Superior Court by Plaintiff Cam IX Trust (“Plaintiff”). (Doc. No. 1 at 1-3.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court sua sponte REMANDS the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and DENIES AS MOOT Removing Defendant’s application to proceed in forma pauperis. (Doc. No. 3.) /// 1 16-CV-2419-AJB-DHB 1 LEGAL STANDARD 2 Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction 3 only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See Kokkonen v. Guardian 4 Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A defendant may remove a civil action to federal 5 court only if the district court would have original jurisdiction over the matter. 28 U.S.C. 6 § 1441(a). “[R]emoval statutes are strictly construed against removal.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 7 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). A defendant seeking removal has the burden to establish 8 that removal is proper and any doubt is resolved against removability. Luther v. 9 Countrywide Home Loans Servicing LP, 533 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2008). However, a 10 plaintiff seeking remand has the burden to prove that an express exception to removal 11 exists. See Breuer v. Jim’s Concrete of Brevard, Inc., 538 U.S. 691, 698 (2003). 12 “[F]ederal courts are under an independent obligation to examine their own 13 jurisdiction[.]” FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 231 (1990). Accordingly, 14 “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter 15 jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 16 12(h)(3) (“If the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the 17 court must dismiss the action.”). 18 DISCUSSION 19 Removing Defendant alleges that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over this 20 matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and § 1441. (Doc. No. 1 at 2.)1 Federal question 21 jurisdiction exists over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of 22 the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331; see also U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. Jurisdiction in 23 federal question cases is “governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule,’ which provides 24 that federal [question] jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the 25 face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 26 27 1 28 Page numbers refer to the CM/ECF page numbers and not the automatically generated page numbers on the original document. 2 16-CV-2419-AJB-DHB 1 386, 392-93 (1987). Diversity jurisdiction exists where there is complete diversity among 2 opposing parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). 3 Removing Defendant claims that federal question jurisdiction exists because “the 4 complaint presents federal questions” and that “Defendant’s answer depend[s] on the 5 determination of Defendant’s rights and Plaintiff’s duties under federal law.” (Doc. No. 1 6 ¶¶ 6, 10.) The complaint attached as Exhibit A to the notice of removal, however, 7 affirmatively shows that Removing Defendant’s complaint alleges only a single claim for 8 unlawful detainer, which is a California state law cause of action. (Id. at 6.) Wells Fargo 9 Bank v. Lapeen, No. C 11-01932 LB, 2011 WL 2194117, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 6, 2011) 10 (“An unlawful detainer action, on its face, does not arise under federal law but is purely a 11 creature of California law.”) (citing Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, No. CV 10-8203 12 GAF (SSx), 2010 WL 4916578, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2010))). 13 Removing Defendant also claims that removal is appropriate based on diversity 14 jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 6.) Removing Defendant does not plead any more facts to 15 support this argument. Looking at the complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff is a Delaware 16 Statutory Trust and Removing Defendant is a citizen of California, residing at the property 17 in question in the unlawful detainer action. (Id. at 6, 7.) The complaint also states on its 18 face that the demand for damages does not exceed $10,000. (Id. at 6.) Moreover, Plaintiff 19 asks for damages in the amount of $102.00 per day as allowed by law from 07/26/2016. 20 (Id. at 8.) As of the day of this order, that only amounts to $1224.00, which is far less than 21 the $75,000 needed to qualify for diversity jurisdiction. 22 The Court finds that Plaintiff’s complaint does not “necessarily raise a stated federal 23 issue, actually disputed and substantial,” which this Court “may entertain without 24 disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal and state judicial 25 responsibilities.” Grable & Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng’g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 26 314 (2005); see also Aurora Loan Servs., LLC v. Montoya, No. 2:11-cv-2485- MCE-KJN- 27 PS, 2011 WL 5508926, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2011) (“[P]laintiff filed its Complaint in 28 Superior Court asserting a single claim for unlawful detainer premised solely on California 3 16-CV-2419-AJB-DHB 1 law. Because a claim for unlawful detainer does not itself present a federal question or 2 necessarily turn on the construction of federal law, no basis for federal question jurisdiction 3 appears on the face of the Complaint.”). As the complaint does not present a federal 4 question, and diversity jurisdiction is not present, the Court lacks subject matter 5 jurisdiction. 6 CONCLUSION 7 For the reasons set forth above, the Court sua sponte REMANDS the action to San 8 Diego Superior Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Accordingly, Removing 9 Defendant’s motion to proceed in forma pauperis is DENIED as moot. (Doc. No. 3). 10 11 IT IS SO ORDERED. 12 13 Dated: October 12, 2016 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 16-CV-2419-AJB-DHB

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