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Haw v. Washington Mutual Bank

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 1, 2010

PRESENTACION R. HAW, PLAINTIFF,
v.
WASHINGTON MUTUAL BANK, INDYMAC BANK, F.S.B., MORTGAGE ELECTRONIC REGISTRATION SYSTEMS, INC., MORTGAGEIT, INC, QUALITY LOAN SERVICE CORPORATION, GMAC MORTGAGE, L.L.C., JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AND DSOES 1 TO 98, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANTS.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Frank C. Damrell, Jr. United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

This matter is before the court on the motions of defendants the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation ("FDIC"), MortgageIt Inc. ("MortgageIt"), and JPMorgan Chase Bank ("JPMorgan") to dismiss plaintiff Presentacion R. Haw's ("plaintiff") first amended complaint pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure ("FRCP") 12(b)(6).

On February 12, 2009, plaintiff, acting pro se, filed a complaint against defendants for claims arising out of a real estate loan transaction. (Docket #1.) Plaintiff's original complaint included federal claims for violation of the Truth in Lending Act ("TILA") and the Federal Debt Collection Practices Act ("FDCPA") as well as a state law claim for alleged violations of California Business and Professions Code §§ 17200 et seq. relating to unfair business practices. On July 27, 2009, plaintiff, represented by counsel, filed a first amended complaint. (Docket #42.) The first amended complaint includes claims for civil conspiracy, fraud, specific performance, wrongful foreclosure, quiet title, and wrongful eviction.*fn1

Jurisdiction is a threshold inquiry before the adjudication of any case before the court. See Morongo Band of Mission Indians v. Cal. State Bd. of Equalization, 858 F.2d 1376, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988). Without jurisdiction, this court cannot adjudicate the merits of this case or order any relief. See id. ("If the district court had no jurisdiction over the subject matter, the action should have been dismissed, regardless of the parties' preference for an adjudication in federal court.").

Plaintiff's only remaining claim that could possibly support federal jurisdiction*fn2 is his seventh claim for relief, which is titled "Wrongful Eviction and Violation of Due Process." (Compl. ¶ 145.) Plaintiff alleges that, following the allegedly wrongful foreclosure of her home, defendants sought to evict plaintiff by filing an unlawful detainer suit in California Superior Court and obtaining a writ of execution to gain possession. (Id. at ¶ 147-50.) Plaintiff further alleges that "[b]y not allowing Plaintiff to assert her right to ownership, [JPMorgan] through the California Superior Court essentially deprived Plaintiff of her due process rights." (Id. at ¶ 150.)

Even if the court construes this as a claim for violation of plaintiff's procedural due process rights guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, plaintiff's claim fails to state a claim for relief because she has not plausibly alleged that JPMorgan was acting under color of state law. Use of the unlawful detainer process standing alone does not transform acts by a private party into acts under color of law for purposes of § 1983. See Hohensee v. Dailey, 383 F. Supp. 6, 9 (M.D. Pa. 1974) ("The mere fact that an individual utilizes state process against another does not make the actor's conduct cognizable as state action."); see also Deal v. Newport Datsun, Ltd., 706 F.2d 141 (4th Cir. 1983) (affirming a district court's dismissal of an action on the grounds that a landlord's commencement of an ejectment proceeding did not constitute state action); Miller v. Hartwood Apartments, Ltd., 689 F.2d 1239, 1242 (5th Cir. 1982) ("There is no cause of action under the Civil Rights Act if a case is private litigation in which the state does no more than furnish the forum and has no interest in the outcome."); cf. Howerton v. Gabica, 708 F.2d 380 (9th Cir. 1983) (finding state action in an eviction context when a police officer accompanied landlord when serving eviction notice, privately approached tenants, and recommended that they leave, creating the appearance that the police sanctioned the eviction). Plaintiff fails to set forth any allegations in her complaint or argument in her opposition that could plausibly give rise to a claim under § 1983. Indeed, plaintiff wholly fails to advance any arguments with respect to a constitutional due process claim. Rather, the only argument proffered by plaintiff is that the wrongful eviction claim, in which the due process allegation is included, is dependent upon her wrongful foreclosure claim. Accordingly, plaintiff's § 1983 claim for violation of due process is DISMISSED without leave to amend.*fn3

Dismissal of plaintiff's purported § 1983 claim leaves the complaint devoid of any federal claims. The remaining claims are state law claims for civil conspiracy, fraud, specific performance, wrongful foreclosure, quiet title, and wrongful eviction.

Subject to the conditions set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), district courts may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over state law claims. See Acri v. Varian Associates, Inc., 114 F.3d 999, 1000 (9th Cir. 1997)(en banc). The court's decision whether to exercise supplemental jurisdiction should be informed by values of "economy, convenience, fairness, and comity." Id. at 1001 (citations omitted). However, primary responsibility for developing and applying state law rests with the state courts. Therefore, when federal claims are eliminated before trial, district courts should usually decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction. See Carnegie-Mellon Univ. v. Cohill, 484 U.S. 343, 350 (1988); Gini v. Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Dept., 40 F.3d 1041, 1046 (9th Cir. 1994) ("[I]n the usual case in which federal-law claims are eliminated before trial, the balance of factors . . . will point toward declining to exercise jurisdiction over the remaining state law claims.")(quoting Schneider v. TRW Inc., 938 F.2d 986, 993 (9th Cir. 1991)). In accordance with 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), the court declines to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over plaintiff's remaining state law claims.

Accordingly, the remainder of plaintiff's complaint is DISMISSED without prejudice.*fn4

IT IS SO ORDERED.


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