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Bonnie Brae Properties, LLC v. Mercedes Posada

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


November 29, 2010

BONNIE BRAE PROPERTIES, LLC
v.
MERCEDES POSADA

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Percy Anderson, United States District Judge

JS-6

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Paul Songco Not Reported N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants: None None

Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER

The Court is in receipt of a Notice of Removal filed by defendant Mercedes Posada ("Defendant") on November 24, 2010. (Docket No. 1.) Plaintiff Bonnie Brae Properties, LLC's ("Plaintiff's") Complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, asserts a single cause of action for unlawful detainer. Defendant, who is appearing pro se, seems to assert that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of 28 U.S.C. § 1443, which creates federal removal jurisdiction for actions brought against people who cannot enforce in state court "any law providing for the equal rights of citizens of the Untied States." 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1).

Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S. Ct. 1673, 1675, 128 L. Ed. 2d 391 (1994). A "strong presumption" against removal jurisdiction exists. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992). In seeking removal, the defendant bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, this Court has original jurisdiction over civil actions "arising under" federal law. Removal based on § 1331 is governed by the "well-pleaded complaint" rule. Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S. Ct. 2425, 2429, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318 (1987). Under the rule, "federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Id. at 392, 107 S. Ct. at 2429, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318. If the complaint does not specify whether a claim is based on federal or state law, it is a claim "arising under" federal law only if it is "clear" that it raises a federal question. Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996). Thus, plaintiff is generally the "master of the claim." Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392, 107 S. Ct. at 2429, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318. There is no federal question jurisdiction simply because there is a federal defense to the claim. Id. at 392, 107 S. Ct. at 2429, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318. The only exception to this rule is where plaintiff's federal claim has been disguised by "artful pleading," such as where the only claim is a federal one or is a state claim preempted by federal law. Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813 F. 2d 1368, 1372 (9th Cir. 1987).

JS-6

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Case No. CV 10-9131 PA (PLAx)

Date November 29, 2010

Bonnie Brae Properties, LLC v. Mercedes Posada

Here, the Complaint contains a single cause of action for unlawful detainer. No federal claim is alleged. Further, Defendant does not allege that the Complaint contains a federal claim in disguise, or that the unlawful detainer claim is preempted by federal law. The Notice of Removal instead appears to assert that certain adverse ruling in the unlawful detainer action have violated Defendant's constitutional rights. Such claims in the Notice of Removal are inadequate to establish a basis for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1443. There is no allegation or any other indication that Defendant has properly sought to invoke a law that provides "for the equal civil rights of citizens of the United States," or that she is unable to pursue such a claim or that the state court is unable or unwilling to enforce such a claim. See Patel v. Del Taco, Inc., 446 F.3d 996, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2006) ("A petition for removal under § 1443(1) must satisfy the two-part test articulated by the Supreme Court in Georgia v. Rachel, 384 U.S. 780, 788-92, 794-804, 86 S. Ct. 1783, 16 L. Ed. 2d 925 (1966) and City of Greenwood, Miss. v. Peacock, 384 U.S. 808, 824-28, 86 S. Ct. 1800, 16 L. Ed. 2d 944 (1966). 'First, the petitioners must assert, as a defense to the prosecution, rights that are given to them by explicit statutory enactment protecting equal racial civil rights.' 'Second, petitioners must assert that the state courts will not enforce that right, and that allegation must be supported by reference to a state statute or a constitutional provision that purports to command the state courts to ignore the federal rights.') (quoting California v. Sandoval, 434 F.2d 635, 636 (9th Cir. 1970)). Because the Complaint does not allege claims under any federal law, and the Notice of Removal's citation to 28 U.S.C. § 1443 does not confer jurisdiction on this Court, the Notice of Removal's allegations are insufficient to establish the Court's jurisdiction.

For the foregoing reasons, Defendant has failed to meet her burden of showing that federal question jurisdiction exists over this action. Accordingly, because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, this action is hereby remanded to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, Case No. 10U08362. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20101129

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