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You Never Know, LLC v. Richard Sheils


June 21, 2011



On May 11, 2011, Ron Vanderbeck, proceeding pro se, filed an application to proceed in forma pauperis along with a notice of removal of an action from Placer County Superior Court.*fn1 The removing party alleges that he is a tenant residing in the property at issue in the unlawful detainer action filed by plaintiff on April 8, 2011.

Exhibits to the Notice of Removal show that Richard Sheils and Olivia Sheils were the named defendants in the action filed by plaintiff, along with DOES 1-10, and that Ron Vanderbeck was declared a defendant by order of the state court after Vanderbeck filed a prejudgment claim of right to possession. (Def't Vanderbeck's Notice of Removal (Doc. No. 1) at 14-16 & 83-87.) Plaintiff acquired title to the residential property at 8000 Chestnut Court, Granite Bay, CA on March 8, 2011, pursuant to a foreclosure sale after defendants Richard Sheils and Olivia Sheils defaulted on their mortgage loan. (Id. at 83-87.)

It is well established that the statutes governing removal jurisdiction must be "strictly construed against removal." Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979) (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108 (1941)). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). "'The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls on the party invoking removal.'" Harris v. Provident Life & Accident Ins. Co., 26 F.3d 930, 932 (9th Cir. 1994) (quoting Gould v. Mut. Life Ins. Co., 790 F.2d 769, 771 (9th Cir.1986)). Moreover, "the existence of federal jurisdiction depends solely on the plaintiff's claims for relief and not on anticipated defenses to those claims." ARCO Envtl. Remediation, LLC v. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Quality, 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir. 2000). Where it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a removed case, "the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

Defendant alleges that he is "entitled to removal" based on federal question jurisdiction. He "strongly believes he has been discriminated [sic] and that the Plaintiff has violated federal law" because "[t]hey have failed to provide the defendant with a 90 day notice to quit, by federal law passed in 2009 of May." (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) Defendant argues that "[t]he complaint clearly points out that the recovery for possession is based on a foreclosure and it raises questions as to what rights tenants have because of the effect of the foreclosure." (Id. at 2.)

The exhibits to defendant's notice of removal demonstrate that this action is nothing more than a garden-variety unlawful detainer action brought pursuant to state statutes. The action, filed against residents of real property located in California based wholly on California law, does not present a "claim or right arising under the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States" that would have permitted plaintiff to file the action originally in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). The mere fact that plaintiff seeks to recover possession of property obtained by non-judicial sale after a foreclosure does not in itself raise any federal question. The defendant's allegations of discrimination and non-compliance with proper procedure under a federal statute are defenses and are not inherent in plaintiff's claims.

Defendant has failed to meet his burden of establishing federal jurisdiction, and this action should therefore be summarily remanded. Defendant's application to proceed in forma pauperis should be denied due to his attempted removal of a case in which the plaintiff's state court pleading contains no claim that would have permitted plaintiff to file this action originally in federal court.

In light of the recommendation of summary remand upon screening defendant's in forma pauperis application and notice of removal, the undersigned will vacate the hearing on plaintiff's recently filed motion to remand and will further recommend that the motion be denied as moot.

Accordingly, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the hearing of plaintiff's motion to remand (Doc. No. 3) is vacated, and the matter is dropped from the court's June 24, 2011 calendar; and


1. Defendant's motion to proceed in forma pauperis (Doc. No. 2) be denied;

2. Plaintiff's motion to remand and request for fees and costs (Doc. No. 3) be denied as moot;

3. This action be summarily remanded to the Superior Court of California, County of Placer, and this case be closed.

These findings and recommendations will be submitted to the United States District Judge assigned to the case, pursuant to the provisions of 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(l). Within fourteen days after being served with these findings and recommendations, any party may file and serve written objections with the court. A document presenting objections should be titled "Objections to Magistrate Judge's Findings and Recommendations." Any reply to objections shall be filed and served within seven days after the objections are served.


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