The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Gary Allen Feess
Proceedings: (In Chambers)
I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
On March 5, 2010, Plaintiffs Joanna and Michael Zielinski ("Plaintiffs") filed this lawsuit in Ventura County Superior Court against Target National Bank ("Target") for unlawful debt collection practices.
According to the Complaint, Plaintiffs received property, services, or money from Target on an extension of credit. (Compl. ¶ 4.) In seeking to collect the alleged debt, Target placed collection calls to Plaintiffs without disclosing its identity and with such unreasonable frequency that the "natural consequence" of this behavior "was to harass, oppress, or abuse Plaintiffs." (Id. ¶¶ 13, 17-18, Ex. A.) Plaintiffs further claim that Target continued to place calls even after receiving a cease and desist letter. (Id. ¶ 16.)
Plaintiffs assert a sole cause of action for violation of the Rosenthal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, CAL. CIV. CODE § 1788, et seq. (the "Rosenthal Act"). To support this state law claim, Plaintiffs also allege violations of the FDCPA, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (Compl. ¶ 18.)
Defendant timely removed this action to this Court and contends that the "federal claim set out in the action includes a cause of action over which this Court has original jurisdiction." (Not. ¶ 3.) The Court disagrees and REMANDS the case, sua sponte, for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), "[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." The removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1086 (9th Cir. 2009). The "mere presence of a federal issue in a state cause of action does not automatically confer federal question jurisdiction." Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 814 (1986). Rather, "federal courts are under an independent obligation to examine their own jurisdiction." FW/PBS, Inc. v. City of Dallas, 493 U.S. 215, 229 (1990).
In Rains v. Criterion Sys., Inc., the Ninth Circuit addressed the issue of whether federal jurisdiction extends to a state law claim that alleges a number of alternative theories of relief, some of which are supported by reference to federal law. 80 F.3d 339, 341 (9th Cir. 1996). The plaintiff in Rains referred to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as one aspect of his claims for wrongful termination in violation of public policy and intentional interference with contractual relations. Id. at 342. In remanding the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, the Ninth Circuit held that "even though Rains' ...