VRM (Vendor Recource Management) v. Jellison, et al
ORDER GRANTING 2 Motion to Remand to State Court. Signed by Judge Xavier Rodriguez. (rg)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SAN ANTONIO DIVISION
VENDOR RESOURCE MANAGEMENT,
MANIDA JELLISON, ET AL.,
§ Civil Action No. SA-17-CV-00504-XR
Before the Court is Plaintiff Vendor Resource Management’s Motion to Remand to State
Court. Docket no. 2. After careful consideration, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff’s motion.
This case involves real property located at 12430 Basil Bay, San Antonio, Texas 78253.
The Property was purchased at a foreclosure sale on December 6, 2016. Docket no. 1 at 1. Wells
Fargo Bank, N.A. executed a Special Warranty Deed conveying its interest in the Property to
Plaintiff on December 15, 2016. Docket no. 2-3 at 1. The Special Warranty Deed was recorded
on December 20, 2016. Id.
The Deed of Trust encumbering the Property provides that upon the occurrence of a
foreclosure sale, Defendants 1 or any person holding possession of the Property through
Defendants shall immediately surrender possession of the Property to the purchaser of the
Property. Docket no. 2-5 at 17. If Defendants do not surrender the Property, they will be tenants
at sufferance and may be removed by court proceeding. Id. Plaintiff sent Defendants a letter on
December 28, 2016, informing them that they needed to vacate the Property within 90 days.
Docket no. 2-4 at 2. Defendants did not do so, and on March 30, 2017, Plaintiff filed its Original
Defendants in this action are Manida Jellison and all occupants of the Property.
Petition for Forcible Detainer in the Justice Court of Precinct 1 Place 1 of Bexar County, Texas.
Docket no. 2 at 1. Judgment was entered in favor of Plaintiff on April 18, 2017, and Defendants
appealed that ruling on April 24, 2017. Docket no. 1 at 12; Docket no. 2 at 2–3.
Defendants removed the action to this Court on June 7, 2017. Docket no. 1 at 1. The next
day, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand. Docket no. 2. The Court now turns to this pending
Any civil action brought in state court may be removed to federal court if the district
court has original jurisdiction over that action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The defendant bears the
burden of demonstrating that the court has jurisdiction when the case is removed. See In re HotHed Inc., 477 F.3d 320, 323 (5th Cir. 2007). If a court doubts the propriety of removal, it should
resolve these doubts in favor of remand. Id. In this case, there are two potential bases for original
jurisdiction: federal question and diversity. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332.
Under the forum-defendant rule, if original jurisdiction is based on diversity, the action
may not be removed from state court if any of the defendants is a citizen of the state in which the
action is brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). The plaintiff is required to move for remand within 30
days of removal if this procedural defect exists. See In re 1994 Exxon Chem. Fire, 558 F.3d 378,
393 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing In re Shell Oil Co., 932 F.2d 1518, 1519 (5th Cir. 1991)).
Federal question jurisdiction exists if a question of federal law is presented on the face of
the plaintiff’s “well-pleaded complaint.” Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 207 (2004).
Generally, if a plaintiff’s complaint asserts only state law causes of action, the action is not
removable to a federal district court. See Kramer v. Smith Barney, 80 F.3d 1080, 1082 (5th Cir.
Defendants argue this Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. In
their Notice of Removal, Defendants allege that Plaintiff is a citizen of Missouri and that they are
citizens of Texas. Under the forum-defendant rule, an action with original jurisdiction based on
diversity may not be removed to a federal district court if a defendant is a citizen of the state in
which the action is brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b); In re 1994 Exxon Chemical Fire, 558 F.3d at
391. By the terms of their own Notice of Removal, Defendants acknowledge that they are
citizens of Texas and the action was brought in Texas state court; indeed, because this is a
forcible detainer action aimed at those occupying real property in Texas, this admission makes
sense. Docket no. 1 at 1. Consequently, Defendants are procedurally barred from removing this
action to any federal district court in Texas on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. 2
Furthermore, Defendants do not properly allege that federal question jurisdiction exists.
Initially, it is not entirely clear that Defendants even attempt to assert a federal basis for this
Court’s jurisdiction—minus one cursory reference to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, Defendants’ Notice of
Removal is silent on any federal laws that might be implicated by Plaintiff’s complaint. See
Docket no. 1. Assuming Defendants do attempt to rely on federal question jurisdiction, this
reliance is misplaced. Plaintiff’s underlying forcible detainer claim is a state law cause of action
that does not present any federal questions. Fed. Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n v. Morse, No. 4:16-CV-396,
2016 WL 6871143, at *4 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 22, 2016); see also U.S. Bank, N.A., v. Allain, No.
Assuming arguendo that Defendants were not citizens of Texas, they still have not adequately pled that
the amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied. Defendants allege the Property’s value is $130,813.00 and
therefore that the amount in controversy is satisfied. They are mistaken. The object of Plaintiff’s underlying forcible
detainer claim is possession of the Property, not title of the Property. Fed. Nat’l Mortg. Ass’n v. Morse, No. 4:16CV-396, 2016 WL 6871143, at *3 (E.D. Tex. Nov. 22, 2016). Consequently, the amount in controversy is the value
of merely possessing the Property, not the value of the Property itself. Id. Defendants do not allege that the value of
possessing the house is at least $75,000. Instead, they allege the market value of the Property meets the amount in
controversy, but this is not the correct measure of the amount in controversy. Nevertheless, the Court recognizes that
it has not allowed Defendants the opportunity to re-plead their jurisdictional allegations or respond to Plaintiff’s
motion to remand, and for these reasons, does not reach the question of whether Defendants have satisfied the
1:14-CV-670, 2015 WL 679233, at *3 (E.D. Tex. Feb. 17, 2015) (finding forcible detainer does
not raise a federal claim or require plaintiff to rely on federal law for relief); Fed. Nat’l Mortg.
Ass’n v. Elliott, No. 3:10-CV-1321-L, 2010 WL 4627833, at *3 (N.D.Tex. Nov. 16, 2010)
(“Forcible detainer actions do not meet [the well-pleaded complaint rule’s] standard. Plaintiff’s
Complaint is simply one to evict Defendants and obtain physical possession of the Property
under state law. The Complaint raises no federal claim or issue and provides no basis for federal
question jurisdiction.”); Bank of N.Y. Mellon Trust Co., N.A. v. De La Fuente, No. 3:14-CV3627, 2014 WL 6901794, at *4 (N.D. Tex. Dec. 8, 2014) (remanding forcible detainer action
because federal question jurisdiction did not exist). Consequently, Plaintiff’s action is not
removable to this Court on the basis of federal question jurisdiction.
In sum, Defendants’ Notice of Removal, on its face, acknowledges that Defendants are
citizens of Texas, preventing diversity-based removal under the forum-defendant rule. See 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b). Furthermore, the Notice of Removal does not identify a basis for federal
question jurisdiction and Plaintiff’s underlying complaint lacks one as well. Accordingly, this
case must be remanded to state court.
For the foregoing reasons, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand (Docket no. 2) is GRANTED.
This case is hereby REMANDED to state court.
It is so ORDERED.
SIGNED this 12th day of June, 2017.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
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