Sage Home Mortgage, LLC v. Roohan et al

Filing 5

Sua Sponte Remanding Action to State Court for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction; denying 2 Motion for Leave to Proceed in forma pauperis; finding as moot 3 Motion to Remand to State Court. Signed by Judge Anthony J. Battaglia on 7/27/2017. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(acc)

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 SAGE HOME MORTGAGE, LLC, Case No.: 17-cv-1409-AJB-JMA Plaintiff, 12 13 14 ORDER: v. JAMES R. ROOHAN; and Does 1-10, inclusive, 15 16 (1) SUA SPONTE REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION; Defendants. 17 (2) DENYING DEFENDANT’S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AS MOOT; AND 18 19 (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO REMAND AS MOOT (Doc. Nos. 2, 3) 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 On July 12, 2017, Defendant James R. Roohan (“Removing Defendant”), acting pro se, filed a notice of removal of an unlawful detainer action filed in San Diego Superior Court, (Doc. No. 1), and a motion to proceed in forma pauperis (“IFP”), (Doc. No. 2). Subsequently, Plaintiff Sage Home Mortgage, LLC (“Plaintiff”) filed a motion to remand. (Doc. No. 3.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court sua sponte REMANDS the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, (Doc. No. 1), DENIES AS MOOT Removing 1 17-cv-1409-AJB-JMA 1 Defendant’s application to proceed IFP, (Doc. No. 2), and DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiff’s 2 motion to remand, (Doc. No. 3). 3 BACKGROUND 4 The instant matter finds itself in federal court for the second time, having been 5 removed and remanded once before. The underlying facts remain the same: on December 6 19, 2016, Plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer suit in the Superior Court of California, 7 County of San Diego against Defendants James R. Roohan and Does 1-10 (collectively 8 referred to as “Defendants”). (Doc. No. 1 at 3–6.) Plaintiff alleges that on November 28, 9 2016, it purchased the premises located at 485 La Costa Avenue, Encinitas, CA 92024 in 10 a non-judicial foreclosure sale under California law. (Id. at 4.) In spite of this purchase, 11 Plaintiff alleges that Defendants have continued to possess the property and thus it seeks 12 damages including restitution, unpaid rent, and attorney’s fees and costs. (Id. at 4–6.) 13 On February 10, 2017, Removing Defendant filed his first notice of removal based 14 on federal question jurisdiction in this Court—17-cv-00272. (Doc. No. 3-1 at 3.) However, 15 finding that the complaint relied entirely on state law, and that the removal notice offered 16 no facts regarding a substantial federal question nor a subject matter jurisdiction issue on 17 the basis of citizenship, Judge John A. Houston sua sponte remanded the case back to state 18 court. (Id.; Doc. No. 3-8.) On July 12, 2017, Removing Defendant filed his second notice 19 of removal that sought to remove the same unlawful detainer action.1 (Doc. No. 1.) 20 LEGAL STANDARD 21 Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over 22 matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. 23 of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A defendant may remove a civil action from state court 24 to federal court only if the district court could have original jurisdiction over the matter. 28 25 26                                                                   27 1 28 The Court notes that Removing Defendant puzzlingly selected “U.S. Government Defendant” on the civil cover sheet and cited 23 U.S.C. § 1345 as the grounds for removal. (Doc. No. 1-1.) 2 17-cv-1409-AJB-JMA 1 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Removal statutes are strictly construed against removal.” Luther v. 2 Countrywide Home Loans Serv., L.P., 533 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir. 2008). There is a 3 “strong presumption” against removal jurisdiction, and the party seeking removal always 4 has the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 5 566 (9th Cir. 1992). If there is any doubt as to the propriety of removal, federal jurisdiction 6 must be rejected. Id. at 567. At any time during court proceedings, a district court may 7 remand a case to state court if the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the 8 case. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). 9 DISCUSSION 10 Removing Defendant’s notice of removal alleges that the Court has jurisdiction over 11 the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) and/or (b). (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) Federal question 12 jurisdiction exists over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of 13 the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331; see also U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. Jurisdiction in 14 federal question cases is “governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule,’ which provides 15 that federal [question] jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the 16 face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 17 386, 392 (1987). Diversity jurisdiction exists where there is complete diversity among 18 opposing parties and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). 19 Despite the clear and straightforward order by Judge Houston that was filed in 20 February of this year, Removing Defendant is seeking to remove the same action to the 21 district court again. However, Removing Defendant’s second attempt to bring his case to 22 federal court is not only frivolous, but wholly flawed. Here, Removing Defendant attaches 23 to his notice a short statement of his allegations regarding the lending history behind the 24 property, complaints against different people involved in the sale of the property, and the 25 instant action for unlawful detainer. (Doc. No. 1 at 9.) However, the Court again highlights 26 that the complaint affirmatively shows that the only allegation is for a single claim for 27 unlawful detainer, which is a California state law cause of action. (Doc. No. 1 at 3 (see 28 Wells Fargo Bank v. Lapeen, No. C 11-01932 LB, 2011 WL 2194117, at *3 (N.D. Cal. 3 17-cv-1409-AJB-JMA 1 June 6, 2011) (“An unlawful detainer action, on its face, does not arise under federal law 2 but is purely a creature of California law.”) (citing Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, No. 3 CV 10-8203 GAF (SSx), 2010 WL 4916578, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2010))). 4 The Court also notes that Removing Defendant makes no claims that removal is 5 appropriate based on diversity jurisdiction. Looking at the complaint, the Court finds that 6 Plaintiff and Removing Defendant are both citizens of California. (Doc. No. 1 at 3.) Thus, 7 the complete diversity between the parties that is needed for a finding of diversity 8 jurisdiction is lacking. 9 Based upon the foregoing, the Court finds that the complaint does not “necessarily 10 raise a stated federal issue, actually disputed and substantial,” which this Court “may 11 entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved balance of federal and state 12 judicial responsibilities.” Grable & Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng’g & Mfg., 545 13 U.S. 308, 314 (2005); see also Aurora Loan Servs., LLC v. Montoya, No. 2:11-cv-2485- 14 MCE-KJN-PS, 2011 WL 5508926, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2011) (“[P]laintiff filed its 15 Complaint in Superior Court asserting a single claim for unlawful detainer premised solely 16 on California law. Because a claim for unlawful detainer does not by itself present a federal 17 question or necessarily turn on the construction of federal law, no basis for federal question 18 jurisdiction appears on the face of the Complaint.”). Consequently, as the complaint in the 19 instant action does not present a federal question and diversity jurisdiction is not present, 20 the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 21 On a final note, Plaintiff has asked the Court to sanction Removing Defendant for 22 allegedly abusing the court system by removing his case a second time for the purpose of 23 increasing costs on Plaintiff and delaying trial. (Doc. No. 3-1 at 9.) After reviewing the 24 pleadings, the Court has reason to believe that Removing Defendant has indeed been using 25 notices of removal and stays of action to unduly delay court proceedings and frustrate 26 judicial economy. (See generally Doc. Nos. 1, 3.) However, the Court does not deem 27 sanctions to be appropriate at this time. Nevertheless, the Court warns Removing 28 Defendant that if he chooses to make any further filings in the district court regarding the 4 17-cv-1409-AJB-JMA 1 instant matter, the Court will initiate proceedings to hold him in contempt of court for 2 violation of this order, subjecting Removing Defendant to remain in custody as well as 3 fines. 4 CONCLUSION 5 Based on the foregoing, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that: 6 1. 7 8 9 The Court sua sponte REMANDS the action to San Diego Superior Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and 2. Defendant’s motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis, (Doc. No. 2), and Plaintiff’s motion to remand, (Doc. No. 3), are DENIED AS MOOT. 10 11 Dated: July 27, 2017 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 5 17-cv-1409-AJB-JMA

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