Franks v. Franks et al

Filing 2

Sua Sponte Order of Remand to State Court. Signed by Judge Cathy Ann Bencivengo on 5/4/2017. (Certified copy mailed to San Diego County Superior Court) (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(jjg)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 DANIEL FRANKS, Case No.: 3:17-CV-893-CAB-AGS Plaintiff, 12 13 v. 14 SUA SPONTE ORDER OF REMAND TO STATE COURT JEFFREY FRANKS et al., 15 Defendants. 16 17 On December 8, 2016, Plaintiff Daniel Franks filed a complaint for unlawful 18 detainer against Defendants Jeffrey Franks, Guardian Angel Productions, Inc., and Kellie 19 McKenzie in San Diego County Superior Court. [Doc. No. 1 at 12.] On May 3, 2017, 20 Defendant Jeffrey Franks, proceeding pro se, removed the action to this court. [Doc. No. 21 1.] After reviewing the notice of removal and the underlying complaint, the Court finds 22 that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Accordingly, the Court 23 REMANDS this action to state court. 24 A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court by the defendant or 25 defendants if the federal court would have had original subject matter jurisdiction over that 26 suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1243 27 (9th Cir. 2009). On the other hand, “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that 28 the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. 1 3:17-CV-893-CAB-AGS 1 § 1447(c); see also Kelton Arms Condo. Owners Ass’n, Inc. v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 2 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003) (“Subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, and, 3 indeed, we have held that the district court must remand if it lacks jurisdiction.”). The 4 Court may remand sua sponte or on motion of a party. Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 5 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002) (“Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3) provides that a court 6 may raise the question of subject matter jurisdiction, sua sponte, at any time during the 7 pendency of the action . . . .”). “The defendant bears the burden of establishing that removal 8 was proper.” Provincial Gov’t of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 9 (9th Cir. 2009). “The removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right 10 of removal requires resolution in favor of remand.” Moore-Thomas, 553 F.3d at 1244. 11 Generally, subject matter jurisdiction is based on the presence of a federal question, 12 see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or on complete diversity between the parties, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332. 13 In the notice of removal, Jeffrey Franks argues only that this Court has federal-question 14 jurisdiction. “The presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the 15 ‘well-pleaded complaint rule,’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a 16 federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” 17 Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). The complaint must establish 18 “either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff’s right to relief 19 necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law.” Franchise Tax 20 Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983). 21 Here, federal question jurisdiction is absent because no “federal question is 22 presented on the face of plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 23 392. Plaintiff’s complaint asserts a single claim for unlawful detainer, a cause of action 24 that is purely a matter of state law. See Muhammad v. N. Richmond Senior Hous., Inc., 25 No. 15-CV-00629-WHO, 2015 WL 1154209, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 13, 2015) (“California 26 federal courts have repeatedly held that unlawful detainer cases brought under California’s 27 unlawful detainer statute do not raise federal questions.”); Fed. Nat’l. Mortg. Ass’n v. 28 Enshiwat, No. 12-631 CAS (CWx), 2012 WL 683106, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 2, 2012) 2 3:17-CV-893-CAB-AGS 1 (“Unlawful detainer actions are strictly within the province of state court.”) (quotations 2 omitted). Accordingly, the face of the complaint does not present a federal question 3 justifying removal. 4 Jeffrey Franks argues that federal question exists because Plaintiff allegedly violated 5 the notice provisions of the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (“PTFA”), and that the 6 PTFA preempts Plaintiff’s unlawful detainer action. He is incorrect. “First, the PTFA 7 expired on December 31, 2014.” Fairview Tasman LLC v. Young, No. 15-CV-05493- 8 LHK, 2016 WL 199060, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 18, 2016) (citing Dodd-Frank Wall Street 9 Reform and Consumer Protection Act, Pub. L. No. 111-203, 124 Stat. 1376, 2204 (2010) 10 (setting date of expiration)). 11 Second, even if it had not expired, “[t]he PTFA creates no cause of action allowing 12 for evictions, either explicitly or implicitly.” Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, No. CV 10- 13 8203 GAF SSX, 2010 WL 4916578, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2010). While Jeffrey Franks 14 may be able to assert a violation of the PTFA as a defense to the unlawful detainer claim, 15 “a case may not be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense . . . even if 16 the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff’s complaint, and even if both parties concede that 17 the federal defense is the only question truly at issue.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393. 18 “Indeed, federal courts have consistently rejected attempts to premise federal subject 19 matter jurisdiction on the 90–day notice provision of the PTFA.” U.S. Bank Trust, N.A. v. 20 Bracken, No. 2:14-CV-1738-TLN-KJN, 2014 WL 3729563, at *3 (E.D. Cal. July 25, 2014) 21 report and recommendation adopted, No. 2:14-CV-1738-TLN-KJN, 2014 WL 4197566 22 (E.D. Cal. Aug. 22, 2014). “Put simply, the existence of federal jurisdiction depends solely 23 on the plaintiff’s claims for relief and not on anticipated defenses to those claims.” ARCO 24 Envtl. Remediation, L.L.C. v. Dep’t of Health & Envtl. Quality of Montana, 213 F.3d 1108, 25 1113 (9th Cir. 2000). Accordingly, the possible existence of issues under the PTFA does 26 not establish federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. 27 Jeffrey Franks does not argue that removal is proper on the basis of diversity 28 jurisdiction, and the complaint makes clear that no such jurisdiction exists. For a federal 3 3:17-CV-893-CAB-AGS 1 court to exercise diversity jurisdiction, the amount in controversy must exceed $75,000. 2 See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Plaintiff’s complaint explicitly states that he seeks limited civil 3 damages totaling less than $10,000. Thus, diversity jurisdiction is lacking as well. 4 5 6 7 Based on the foregoing, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter and therefore REMANDS the case to San Diego County Superior Court. It is SO ORDERED. Dated: May 4, 2017 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 3:17-CV-893-CAB-AGS

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