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Federal National Mortgage Association v. Michael D. Bahan

July 15, 2011



This matter comes before the court upon plaintiff's motion to remand and for award of attorneys' fees and costs. (ECF 11.) For the following reasons, the court GRANTS plaintiff's motion to remand and DENIES plaintiff's motion for attorneys' fees and costs.


On April 14, 2011, plaintiff filed an action for unlawful detainer against defendant in the Superior Court of the State of California, County of Placer. Plaintiff alleged that defendant remains in unlawful possession of plaintiff's property located at 757 Deer Park Drive in Lincoln, California, in violation of Section 1161a of the California Code of Civil Procedure. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 10, ECF 1.) This action was assigned case number MCV-0050607. (Notice of Removal ¶ 1, ECF 1.)

On April 25, 2011, defendant filed a Notice of Removal in this court. (Notice of Removal, ECF 1.) The Notice of Removal asserts plaintiff's action is properly removed to this court under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question jurisdiction) and 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) (actions removable without regard to citizenship or residence of the parties). Specifically, the Notice argues that plaintiff's action is subject to this court's jurisdiction based on (1) plaintiff's alleged violation of federal law governing wrongful and fraudulent taking of property (Notice of Removal ¶ 4, ECF 1); (2) alleged denial of defendant's rights guaranteed by the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the Constitution (id. ¶ 11); (3) plaintiff's alleged violation of statutes and regulations prohibiting securities fraud (id. ¶ 14); and (4) the "sue-and-be-sued" provision in plaintiff's federal charter (id. ¶ 15).

On May 13, 2011, plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand and Request for Attorneys' Fees and Costs. (Mot. to Remand, ECF 11.)


A. Motion to Remand

i. Legal Standard

District courts have original jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The federal removal statute provides that "any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

In the Ninth Circuit, courts must "strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (citing Boggs v. Lewis, 863 F.2d 662, 663 (9th Cir. 1988); Takeda v. Northwestern Nat'l Life Ins. Co., 765 F.2d 815, 818 (9th Cir. 1985)). Furthermore, "[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Id. (citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979). This "'strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id. (citing Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990); Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988)).

A defendant's ability to carry this burden is restricted by the "well-pleaded complaint rule," which dictates 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 (1987). According to the Ninth Circuit, "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, L.L.C. v. Dep't of Health & Envtl. Quality, 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir. 2000). Indeed, "the federal issue 'must be disclosed upon the face of the complaint, unaided by the answer or by the petition for removal' " in order for a cause of action to be removed to federal court. California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004) (citing Gully v. First Nat'l Bank, 299 U.S. 109, 112 (1936)).*fn1

There are three limited exceptions to the well-pleaded complaint rule allowing federal jurisdiction over an action originally based in state law, and thus supporting removal. These exceptions exist "where federal law completely preempts state law, where the claim is necessarily federal in character, or where the right to relief depends on the resolution of a substantial, disputed federal question." ARCO Envtl. Remediation, 213 F.3d at 1114 (internal citations omitted).

The court applies these standards to defendant's ...

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