King v. Northwest Trustee Services Inc et al

Filing 16


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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT WESTERN DISTRICT OF WASHINGTON AT SEATTLE 8 9 10 BARBARA M. KING, CASE NO. C17-1448JLR ORDER REGARDING SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION Plaintiff, 11 v. 12 13 NORTHWEST TRUSTEE SERVICES INC., et al., 14 Defendants. 15 I. INTRODUCTION 16 Before the court are pro se Plaintiff Barbara M. King’s and Defendants Select 17 Portfolio Servicing, Inc. and Deutsche Bank, NTC’s (collectively, “Defendants”) 18 responses to the court’s order to show cause regarding subject matter jurisdiction. (Pl. 19 Resp. (Dkt. # 13); Defs. Resp. (Dkt. # 14); OSC (Dkt. # 10).) The court has considered 20 the responses, the relevant portions of the record, and the applicable law. Being fully 21 advised, the court finds that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this matter. 22 ORDER - 1 1 II. BACKGROUND & ANALYSIS On October 18, 2017, the court reviewed Ms. King’s complaint (Compl. (Dkt. 2 3 # 3)), found that it inadequately alleged facts regarding the court’s subject matter 4 jurisdiction, and ordered Ms. King to show cause why this matter should not be dismissed 5 for lack of subject matter jurisdiction (OSC at 1-3). The court acknowledged that Ms. 6 King asserts that the court’s subject matter jurisdiction is based on federal question 7 jurisdiction. (Id. at 2 (citing Compl. at 3).) Although Ms. King vaguely states that her 8 constitutional rights have been violated, she does not identify—and the court cannot infer 9 from the complaint—whether those constitutional rights arise from the federal or the state 10 constitution. (Id. (citing Compl. at 5).) Moreover, Ms. King asserts claims for fraud, 11 negligence, and misrepresentation, all of which are state law claims. (Id. (citing Compl. 12 at 5).) 13 In addition, the court noted that although Ms. King does not expressly invoke 14 diversity jurisdiction, she also fails to provide a basis for that form of subject matter 15 jurisdiction. (Id.) Ms. King’s complaint alleges that she is a citizen of Washington and 16 that Defendant Northwest Trustee Services, Inc. (“NWTS”) is a citizen of Washington 17 and therefore fails to demonstrate the requisite complete diversity of citizenship. (Id. 18 (citing Compl. at 3-4).) 19 On October 30, 2017, Ms. King responded to the court’s order by addressing the 20 pleading standards under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6), Bell Atlantic Corp. v. 21 Twombly, 550 U.S. 544 (2007), and Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662 (2009), and arguing 22 that she has sufficiently stated a claim for relief. (Pl. Resp. at 1-3.) That discussion is ORDER - 2 1 irrelevant, however, to whether the court has subject matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., 28 2 U.S.C. § 1331; id. § 1332; Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(b)(1). 3 Although Ms. King’s submission still fails to provide a basis for the court’s 4 exercise of jurisdiction, Defendants contend that diversity jurisdiction exists. (Defs. 5 Resp. at 1.) They argue that NWTS is “being replaced as the foreclosure trustee and even 6 if NWTS’[s] citizenship were considered, it does not preclude jurisdiction because 7 NTWS is a nominal defendant.” (Id.; see also Memmott Decl. (Dkt. # 15).) 8 “A nominal defendant is a person who holds the subject matter of the litigation in 9 a subordinate or possessory capacity as to which there is no dispute.” S.E.C. v. Colello, 10 139 F.3d 674, 676 (9th Cir. 1998) (internal quotation marks omitted). “The paradigmatic 11 nominal defendant” is a trustee joined “purely as a means of facilitating collection.” Id. 12 (internal quotation marks omitted). Here, NWTS, as the foreclosure trustee, is a nominal 13 defendant, and Ms. King makes no substantive or specific allegations against NWTS. 14 See Prasad v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. C11-0894RSM, 2011 WL 4074300, at *2 15 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 13, 2011) (“Most courts that have considered the issue of whether a 16 trustee under a deed of trust is a nominal defendant in an action challenging the 17 foreclosure or threatened foreclosure of property have taken the position” that the trustee 18 is nominal.); see also id. at *3 (stating that a trustee is not a nominal defendant when the 19 plaintiff makes substantive allegations and asserts money damages against the trustee); 20 Beiermann v. JP Morgan Chase Bank Nat’l Ass’n, No. C11-5952RBL, 2012 WL 21 1377094, at *3 (W.D. Wash. Apr. 19, 2012) (finding that the plaintiffs made specific 22 factual allegations against the trustee); (Compl. at 4-5). The court therefore disregards ORDER - 3 1 NWTS’s citizenship in determining the court’s jurisdiction. See Prudential Real Estate 2 Affiliates, Inc. v. PPR Realty, Inc., 204 F.3d 867, 873 (9th Cir. 2000) (“We will ignore 3 the citizenship of nominal or formal parties who have no interest in the action . . . .”). 4 Because complete diversity exists and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00, the 5 court has diversity jurisdiction over this action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332; (Compl. at 5 6 (alleging damages of $750,000.00).) 7 8 9 10 III. CONCLUSION For the foregoing reasons, the court finds that it has subject matter jurisdiction over this action. Dated this 16th day of November, 2017. 11 A 12 JAMES L. ROBART United States District Judge 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 ORDER - 4

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