De Cambra v. State of Hawaii
ORDER OF REMAND - Signed by CHIEF JUDGE SUSAN OKI MOLLWAY on 6/13/2014. "This action is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED to send a certified copy of the present Order and any pending motions to the state court, and to terminate this federal case and close the case file." (emt, )CERTIFICATE OF SERVICEParticipants registered to receive electronic notifications received this document electronically at the e-mail address listed on the Notice of Electronic Filing (NEF). John De Cambra served by first class mail at the address of record on June 13, 2014.
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF HAWAII
JOHN DE CAMBRA, #A04002093,
STATE OF HAWAII,
CIV. NO. 14-00228 SOM/RLP
ORDER OF REMAND
ORDER OF REMAND
On May 15, 2014, Defendant State of Hawaii removed this
action from the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of
Hawaii (“state circuit court”), asserting federal question
jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S. §§ 1331, 1441(a).
Removal, Doc. No. 1.
See Notice of
For the following reasons, the court
REMANDS this action to the state circuit court for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction.
On or about March 16, 2014, Plaintiff/Respondent John
De Cambra, who was then incarcerated at the Saguaro Correctional
Center (“SCC”) in Eloy, Arizona,1 signed a document for filing in
the state circuit court.
Doc. No. 1-1.
The court clerk
On May 19, 2014, Plaintiff notified the court that he has
been transferred to the Halawa Correctional Facility. See Doc.
originally docketed this pleading as a special prisoner
proceeding under Rule 40(2)(3) of the Hawaii Rules of Penal
Procedure (“HRPP”), S.P.P. No. 14-1-0010.
See Compl., Doc. No.
In this document, Plaintiff verified his claims under
penalty of perjury pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1746 and alleged that
he is “one of many Undersigned Petitioners-Plaintiffs in
‘PETITION TO CHANGE AND CORRECT THE CONDITIONS OF CONFINEMENT OF
A.D. SEG. AT SCC.’”
Plaintiff claimed that he was “amongst
numerous Hawai`i Prisoners that are victims of CCA-Saguaro
Correctional Centers (SCC) unconstitutional Administrative
Segregations (‘Ad. Seg.’) Conditions of Confinement.”
On April 16, 2014, the state circuit court determined
that Plaintiff was not challenging his conviction or sentence
under HRPP 40, but rather was challenging the conditions of his
confinement at SCC.
Order, Doc. No. 1-2.
The state circuit
court therefore directed the court clerk to process Plaintiff’s
documents as a civil proceeding under Civ. No. 14-1-0941-04 KTN,
and to serve Defendant State of Hawaii.
On or about May 9, 2014, Plaintiff and eighteen other
SCC inmates submitted the referenced “Petition To Change And
Correct The Conditions of Confinement of Administrative
Segregation at CCA-Saguaro Correctional Center.”
Pet., Doc. No.
This petition details the abuses Plaintiff and the other
inmates allegedly have suffered while incarcerated in the SCC
Administrative Segregation Unit.
Plaintiff also submitted a
“Conditions of Confinement Comparison,” comparing conditions in
SCC’s Administrative Segregation Unit with conditions in SCC’s
Doc. No. 7-8.
On May 15, 2014, Defendant removed Plaintiff’s
initiating state circuit court documents to this court.
Nos. 1-1, 1-2, 1-3, 1-4.
On May 20, 2014, Defendant moved to
stay all proceedings in this action until the court screened
Plaintiff’s Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915A(a).
The court granted Defendants’ motion on May 21, 2014.
On May 21, 2014, the state circuit court transmitted all
documents from state circuit court proceeding Civ. No. 14-1-094104 KTN to this court.
See Doc. Nos. 7, 7-1 to 7-15.
On May 29,
2014, Plaintiff filed a change of address, indicating that he is
now incarcerated in Hawaii.
Doc. No. 8.
The removal statute is strictly construed against
removal, and the party seeking removal bears the burden of
establishing that removal is proper.
Provincial Gov’t of
Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir.
Removal is only proper when the district court has
original jurisdiction; that is, the removed claims must “aris[e]
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331.
An action “arises under” federal law when
“federal law creates the cause of action.”
Merrell Dow Pharm.
Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986).
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance.”
Gaus v. Miles, Inc.,
980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citations omitted).
Additionally, the well-pleaded complaint rule “provides that
federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is
presented on the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded
Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042
(9th Cir. 2009); see also Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S.
386, 392 (1987).
While a plaintiff may defeat removal by choosing not to
plead any federal claims, id. at 399, “a plaintiff may not defeat
removal by omitting to plead necessary federal questions in a
Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers
Vacation Trust for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 22 (1983); Easton v.
Crossland Mortg. Corp., 114 F.3d 979, 981 (9th Cir. 1997)
(stating that a plaintiff “may not avoid federal jurisdiction by
omitting from his complaint federal law essential to . . . his
claim or by casting in state law terms a claim that can be made
only under federal law”).
Conversely, a state law claim is not
transformed into a federal cause of action merely because a
complaint references federal law.
Easton, 114 F.3d at 981.
First, Plaintiff does not assert that his challenge to
the conditions of confinement at SCC arises under the United
States Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.
does not cite to the United States Constitution or to federal law
anywhere in his pleadings or supplemental documents.
Plaintiff broadly alleges that the conditions of confinement at
SCC are “unconstitutional,” he names only the State of Hawaii as
Defendant/Respondent, and he filed this action in the Hawaii
state circuit court.
These details suggest that Plaintiff refers
to the Hawaii State Constitution as the source he invokes to
vindicate his rights, rather than to the United States
Second, Plaintiff’s constitutional claims are not
created exclusively under the United States Constitution or
federal law, nor are they preempted by federal law, because
rights created under the Hawaii Constitution are complementary
to, and may be more protective than, those granted under the
Cf. State v. Aplaca, 74 Haw. 54, 67, 837
P.2d 1298, 1305 n.2 (1992) (explaining that Hawaii defendants are
“clearly afforded greater protection of their right to effective
assistance of counsel” under the Hawaii Constitution than under
the United States Constitution as enunciated in Strickland v.
Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984)).
There is, therefore, no reason
that Plaintiff cannot tailor his Complaint to allege only state
Third, Plaintiff is master of his own complaint; he may
choose where to file it and whether to forgo a federal cause of
While he refers to 28 U.S.C. § 1746 in attesting to the
veracity of his declaration, this simple reference to the federal
statute regarding the proper form for unsworn declarations does
not transform his claims into federal causes of action.
Easton, 114 F.3d at 981.
Plaintiff has neither pled any federal
claims nor failed to plead necessary federal questions.
Finally, Plaintiff is proceeding pro se, and his
filings must be afforded liberal construction.
See Erickson v.
Pardus, 551 U.S. 89, 94 (2007); Hebbe v. Pliler, 611 F.3d 1202,
1205 (9th Cir. 2010) (stating that “we continue to construe pro
se filings liberally”).
And, with a pro se litigant, the court
“affords [Plaintiff] the benefit of any doubt.”
Hebbe, 627 F.3d
The court may not, however, “supply essential elements
of [a] claim that were not initially pled.”
Ivey v. Bd. of
Regents of the Univ. of Alaska, 673 F.2d 266, 268 (9th Cir.
The court should review a complaint as it is pled and not
“infer in one cause of action when a complaint clearly states a
claim under a different cause of action.”
189 F.3d 999, 1001 (9th Cir. 1999).
Bogovich v. Sandoval,
As noted, Plaintiff is
“master to decide what law he will rely upon,” and it is clear
that he intended to file this suit in the Hawaii state court
under Hawaii state law.
This court will not read a federal
cause of action into a document when none is apparent on the face
of the document.
Federal question jurisdiction is presumed to be absent
unless the party seeking removal shows that the plaintiff has
either alleged: (1) a federal claim, (2) a state cause of action
that requires resolution of a substantial issue of federal law,
or (3) a state cause of action that Congress has transformed into
an inherently federal claim by completely preempting the field.
See Homesales, Inc. v. Frierson, 2009 WL 365663 (C.D. Cal. Feb.
11, 2009) (citations omitted).
show that removal is proper.
Defendant’s documents fail to
Based on its review of the
Complaint, this court determines sua sponte that it lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff’s claims and that the case
should be remanded.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); see also Watkins v.
Vital Pharm., Inc., 720 F.3d 1179 (9th Cir. 2013) (“[I]t is well
established that district courts may address questions of subject
matter jurisdiction sua sponte.”) (citation omitted).
Plaintiff later attempts to assert federal claims, Defendants may
again remove this action to the federal court.
See 28 U.S.C.
This action is REMANDED to the Circuit Court of the
First Circuit, State of Hawaii.
The Clerk of Court is DIRECTED
to send a certified copy of the present Order and any pending
motions to the state court, and to terminate this federal case
and close the case file.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
DATED: Honolulu, Hawaii, June 13, 2014.
/s/ Susan Oki Mollway
Susan Oki Mollway
Chief United States District Judge
De Cambra v. State of Hawaii, 1:14-cv-00228 SOM/RLP; psa/remand 2014;
J:\Denise's Draft Orders\SOM\DeCambra 14-228 som (rmd).wpd
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