The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Percy Anderson, United States District Judge
Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER
The Court is in receipt of a Notice of Removal filed by Defendant Rosario Maria Soto ("Defendant") on February 7, 2011. (Docket No. 1.) Plaintiff Deutsche Bank National Trust Company's ("Plaintiff's") Complaint, filed in Ventura County Superior Court, asserts a single cause of action under state law for unlawful detainer. Defendant, who is appearing pro se, asserts that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of both diversity jurisdiction and federal question jurisdiction.
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).
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
Case No. CV 11-1149 PA (AGRx)
Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Rosario Maria Soto, et al.
Here, the Complaint contains a single cause of action for unlawful detainer; no federal claim is alleged. Defendant does not allege that the Complaint contains a federal claim in disguise, or that the unlawful detainer claim is preempted by federal law. Instead, Defendant seems to allege that federal question jurisdiction exists because she is bringing cross-claims and counterclaims for violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act ("RICO") and violation of the Securities Exchange Act. However, neither an actual nor an anticipated federal counterclaim can form a basis for removal. Vaden v. Discover Bank, __ U.S. __, 129 S. Ct. 1262, 1272, 173 L. Ed. 2d 206 (2009). However, because the scope of an unlawful detainer proceeding is limited insofar as it is only a summary proceeding, cross-complaints and counterclaims are not allowed. Knowles v. Robinson, 60 Cal. 2d 620, 626-27, 36 Cal. Rptr. 33, 387 P.2d 833 (1963). Thus, because the ...