The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Stephen V. Wilson, United States District Judge
Paul Cruz 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
On August 23, 2011, Plaintiff Canterbury Lots 68 LLC (hereinafter "Canterbury Lots") filed the instant action in San Bernardino County Superior Court against Defendants John Esposito and Lisa Esposito alleging unlawful detainer pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure §§ 1161a(b)(3) and 1166. On November 29, 2011, Defendant John Esposito removed the action to this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446. (Dkt. No. 1). Defendant removed the action on the basis of federal subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Notice of Removal, at 4). The Court hereby REMANDS the case to San Bernardino County Superior Court because: (1) the Court lackesFederal Question Jurisdiction; (2) Defendant's Notice of Removal is untimely; and (3) the other named Defendant, Lisa Esposito, has not joined in or consented to the Notice of Removal.
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 (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).
A. Federal Question Jurisdiction
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 (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. 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. "A case may not be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense, including the defense of preemption." Id. at 393 (emphasis in original). 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.
Here, the Complaint contains a single cause of action for unlawful detainer. No federal claim is alleged. Defendant claims that federal question jurisdiction exists because of his allegations that Plaintiff violated the Constitution and TILA by engaging in racially discriminatory and predatory lending practices. (Notice of Removal, 2:25-3:4, 3:17-4:2). However, Defendant seems to be citing to federal law in support of potential counterclaims. These allegations do not constitute a basis for removal. Just as a federal defense does not form a basis for removal, neither does an actual or anticipated federal counterclaim form a ...