The opinion of the court was delivered by: M. James Lorenz United States District Court Judge
ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT
On September 8, 2009, defendant Jerry L. Berneathy, appearing pro se, removed this action from the Superior Court for the State of California, County of San Diego, North County Division. In his notice of removal, defendant contends that the action is properly removed on the basis of federal question, diversity, and the Court's admiralty jurisdiction. For the reasons which follow, the action is REMANDED.
"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution or a statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree. It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). "Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." 28 U.S.C. §1441(a).
Consistent with the limited jurisdiction of federal courts, the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Sygenta Crop Prot. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002); O'Halloran v. University of , 856 F.2d 1375, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566. "The strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id.; see also Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assoc., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990); O'Halloran, 856 F.2d at 1380; Rockwell Int'l Credit Corp. v. U.S. Aircraft Ins. Group, 823 F.2d 302, 304 (9th Cir. 1987), overruled on other grounds, Partington v. Gedan, 923 F.2d 686 (9th Cir. 1991). "The traditional rule of burden allocation in determining removal jurisdiction was meant to comport with what the Supreme Court has termed '[t]he dominant note in the successive enactments of Congress relating to diversity jurisdiction,' that is, 'jealous restriction, of avoiding offense to state sensitiveness, and of relieving the federal courts of the overwhelming burden of business that intrinsically belongs to the state courts in order to keep them free for their distinctive federal business.'" Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Indianapolis v. Chase Nat'l Bank, 314 U.S. 63, 76 (1941)).
"Any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction founded on a claim or right arising under the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States shall be removable without regard to the citizenship or residence of the parties." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).
The Court has consistently interpreted jurisdictional statutes with an "arising under" qualification . . . as "giv[ing] the lower federal courts jurisdiction to hear, originally or by removal from a state court, only those cases in which a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that  federal law creates the cause of action or that  the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law."
Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage Leasehold and Easement, 524 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008)(quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation , 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983)); see also Empire Healthchoice Assurance, Inc. v. McVeigh, 547 U.S. 677, 690 (2006).
Defendant contends "the state court complaint pleads and alleges claims 'arising under' Federal Law and there is no absolute expressed prohibition against removal of the federal claims set for [sic] therein." (Notice of Removal at 2.) A review of the complaint does not bear out the claim of federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiff U.S. Financial is the owner of certain real property located in California that was purchased at a trustee's sale following foreclosure proceedings. Defendant, the prior owner of the property, has remained on the property without plaintiff's consent or authorization. Plaintiff seeks to have defendant removed.
Without question, federal law does not create the purely state law claim of unlawful detainer asserted in U.S. Financial's complaint.
"[F]or a state law claim to provide a basis for federal jurisdiction, the state law claim must 'turn on substantial questions of federal law,' and 'really and substantially involv[e] a dispute or controversy respecting the validity, construction or effect of [federal] law.'" Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline, 524 F.3d at 1102 (quoting Grable & Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312 (2005)). Here, plaintiff alleges a single cause of action based exclusively on state court law -- unlawful detainer. Neither the complaint nor defendant's notice of removal provides any indication that the unlawful detainer claim involves a dispute or controversy regarding the validity, construction or effect of federal law.
Based on the foregoing, defendant fails to meet his burden of establishing federal question jurisdiction. This action is therefore remanded to ...