UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT EASTERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
January 25, 2011
SCARLETT, ET AL.,
Kern County Superior Court Case No. S-1500-cv-270540-DRL
ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO KERN COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT FOR LACK OF JURISDICTION
Plaintiff Thomas Goolsby is a state prisoner proceeding pro se in this civil action. On September 20, 2010, Defendants Scarlett and Hurst removed this action from Kern County Superior Court. In their notice of removal, Defendants contend that Plaintiff's alleges violations of his First and Eighth Amendment rights under the United States Constitution. Plaintiff's claims arise from his exposure to pepper spray fumes and the subsequent lack of medical care for his injuries, and from the denial of access to the courts.
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove from state court any action "of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction." Federal courts "shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The removal statute is strictly construed, and Defendants bear the burden of establishing grounds for removal. Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. V. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32, 123 S.Ct. 366 (2002); Provincial Government of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009). Courts "must consider whether federal jurisdiction exists, even if no objection is made to removal, and even if both parties stipulate to federal jurisdiction," Rains v. Criterion Systems, Inc., 80 F.3d 339, 342 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations omitted), and "federal jurisdiction 'must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance,'" Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996) (quotingGaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992)).
"The presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule, which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Caterpillar, Inc., v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425 (1987) (internal quotations and citations omitted). "The rule makes the plaintiff the master of the claim; he or she may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state law." Caterpillar, Inc., 482 U.S. at 392.
Although Plaintiff could have brought this action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of his federal constitutional rights, he did not. Plaintiff's complaint is devoid of any mention of the United States Constitution, the First Amendment, the Eighth Amendment, section 1983, or any other federal bases for relief. While Plaintiff references deliberate indifference, the failure to protect him, and the denial of access to the courts, that terminology alone is insufficient to confer federal jurisdiction in light of the fact that Plaintiff's allegations do not give rise to claims which are redressable exclusively under federal law,*fn1 in the face of Plaintiff's decision to file suit in state court on a state form complaint, and in the absence of any language referring to his federal constitutional rights or section 1983.
The Court finds that Plaintiff exercised his right to rely exclusively on state law, though it expresses no opinion whether Plaintiff's claims are ultimately viable under state law. Caterpillar, Inc., 482 U.S. at 392. The Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action and it shall be remanded to Kern County Superior Court. ///
For the reasons set forth herein, it is HEREBY ORDERED that:
1. This action is REMANDED to the Kern County Superior Court; and
2. The Clerk of the Court shall serve a copy of this order on the Kern County Superior Court.
IT IS SO ORDERED.
CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE