CARRINGTON MORTGAGE SERVICES, LLC v. FERNANDEZ et al
MEMORANDUM OPINION FILED. Signed by Chief Judge Jerome B. Simandle on 2/22/17. (js)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE DISTRICT OF NEW JERSEY
CARRINGTON MORTGAGES SERVICERS,
HONORABLE JEROME B. SIMANDLE
No. 16-9586 (JBS/JS)
MARIA LOURDES FERNANDEZ, et al.
SIMANDLE, Chief Judge:
This matter comes before the Court by way of Plaintiff
Carrington Mortgage Servicers, LLC’s unopposed motion to remand
this action to the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery
Division. [Docket Item 4.] For the reasons that follow, the
Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the
parties’ dispute and grants Plaintiff’s motion to remand.
Plaintiff Carrington Mortgage Servicers, LLC
(“Carrington”) filed a foreclosure action in the Superior Court
of New Jersey, Chancery Division, Atlantic County on August 5,
2016, alleging that Defendants Maria Lourdes Fernandez and
Samuel Tomas Dipini had defaulted on their obligations under a
Note and Mortgage executed with Bank of America, N.A. and
presently held by Carrington. On December 28, 2016, pro se
Defendants removed this action to this federal Court, asserting
diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
[Docket Item 1.] Plaintiff’s unopposed motion to remand
followed. [Docket Item 4.] In this pending motion, Plaintiff
argues that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over
this action, because its Complaint sounds exclusively under
state law and because Defendants improperly removed the action
under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).
Where this Court’s jurisdiction on removal is
challenged, the burden is upon Defendants, as the removing
parties, to demonstrate that subject matter jurisdiction exists
as claimed. In re Nat. Football League Players Concussion Injury
Litig., 775 F.3d 570, 574 (3d Cir. 2014). The federal removal
statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, “is strictly construed, requiring
remand if any doubt exists over whether removal was proper.”
Carlyle Inv. Mgmt. LLC v. Moonmouth Co. SA, 779 F.3d 214, 218
(3d Cir. 2015).
Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and
they must have the power to hear a case. In re Morrissey, 717
F.2d 100, 102 (3d Cir. 1983). Federal courts have the power to
hear only two types of cases: cases over “issues arising under
the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States,” 28
U.S.C. § 1331, and disputes between citizens of different
states, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. It is well-settled that a defendant
may remove a case from state to federal court if the state-court
action “could have been filed in federal court” in the first
place. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987);
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Where removal is based on diversity of
citizenship, Section 1441(b) imposes an additional condition:
“[a] civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of
[diversity jurisdiction] may not be removed if any of the
parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is
a citizen of the State in which the action is brought.” In other
words, Section 1441 allows a defendant to move a state case into
federal court if, and only if, the state case presents a federal
question or the parties are citizens of diverse states, and the
defendant is not a citizen of the forum state.
In this foreclosure case, it is clear that there is no
federal question over which this Court can have jurisdiction.
Carrington’s suit raises only state law claims against
Defendants, and it is well-settled that “federal question
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on
the face of the plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392.
Similarly, it is apparent that Section 1441(b)
prohibits Defendants from removing this case to federal court.
Although Plaintiff and Defendants are citizens of diverse states
[see Civil Cover Sheet, Docket Item 1-2], Defendants are
citizens of New Jersey, and cannot remove their case to this
federal Court in the District of New Jersey. In the absence of
any basis for subject matter jurisdiction, this case must be
remanded back to the Superior Court.
An accompanying Order will be entered.
February 22, 2017
s/ Jerome B. Simandle
JEROME B. SIMANDLE
Chief U.S. District Judge
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