The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Otis D. Wright II, United States District Judge
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: None Attorneys Present for Defendants: None
Proceedings: ORDER SUA SPONTE REMANDING ACTION FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
On April 13, 2010, Defendant Raymond Arnold ("Defendant") filed a Notice of Removal ("Notice") with this Court. (Docket No. 1.) Because Defendant has failed to meet its burden of showing that this Court has original jurisdiction, the Court REMANDS this case to the Los Angeles Superior Court.
On February 18, 2010, Plaintiff Rancho Horizon, LLC ("Plaintiff") filed a Complaint in the Los Angeles Superior Court.*fn1 The Complaint states only one cause of action: unlawful detainer post foreclosure. Plaintiff asserts proper jurisdiction in the State Court given that "[e]ach defendant resides or conducts business in the jurisdiction served by the [state] court; [t]he property [that] is subject to this Unlawful Detainer action . . . is located in the area under jurisdiction of this court; and [t]he amount of damages claimed in this Unlawful Detainer action does not exceed $10,000." (Compl. ¶ 1.) Plaintiff's Complaint does not allege any federal claim. (Notice of Removal, Ex. 1.)
On April 13, 2010, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal in this Court. Defendant contends that the Court "has original jurisdiction and the action is removable to this court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a) and 1446." (Notice ¶ 5.) Although never specifically stated in the Notice, Defendant appears to rely on federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Paragraph 4 of the Notice states that "[t]he above-mentioned action is a civil action of which this court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b)[,] [u]nlawful detainer - Eviction after foreclosure. The amount in controversy exceeds $75,000."*fn2 (Id. at ¶ 4.)
The Court finds that it cannot exercise subject matter jurisdiction over this case and therefore remands this case to the state court for the reasons stated below.
A defendant may remove a civil action from state court to federal court pursuant to the federal removal statute, based on either federal question or diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. "The removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right of removal requires resolution in favor of remand." Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airline, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992)). The presumption against removal means that "the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper."
Moreover, the district court must remand any case previously removed from a state court "if at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction."
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Further, based on the strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, the case must be remanded to state court if the court has any doubts about its subject matter jurisdiction. See Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996); see also Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 ("Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.").
The Supreme Court instructs, "[t]o determine whether [a] claim arises under federal law, we examine the 'well-pleaded' allegations of the complaint and ignore potential defenses." Beneficial Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003). "As a general rule, absent diversity jurisdiction, a case will not be removable if the complaint does not affirmatively allege a federal claim." Id. Federal question jurisdiction only extends to cases "in which a well-pleaded complaint establishes either (1) that federal law creates the cause of action or (2) that the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law, in that federal law is a necessary element of one of the well-pleaded . . . claims." Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating , 486 U.S. 800, 808 (1988) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted). Additionally, the plaintiff is the master of the claim and "can avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987).
If a complaint solely asserts state-law or common-law claims on its face, removal jurisdiction may still be appropriate if "some substantial, disputed question of federal law is a necessary element of one of the well-pleaded state claim." Rains v. Criterion Sys., Inc., 80 F.3d 339, 345 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 13 (1983). This can happen if, for instance, a plaintiff attempts to avoid federal jurisdiction by omitting from the complaint "federal law essential to his claim, or by casting in state law terms a claim that can be made only under federal law." Id. at 344 (quoting Olguin v. Inspiration Consol. Copper Co., 740 F.2d 1468, 1472 (9th Cir. 1984)). This exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule is known as the "artful pleading doctrine." Removal may also be appropriate if federal law completely preempts state law. The "complete preemption doctrine" exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule applies where the "preemptive force of a statute is so 'extraordinary' that it 'converts an ordinary state common-law complaint into one stating a federal claim for purposes of the well-pleaded complaint Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393 (quoting Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 65 (1987)). Thus, upon removal, the defendant must show that the "resolution of a ...