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Silicon Valley Homes, LLC v. Deanna Lieu; et al

February 6, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Howard R. Lloyd United States Magistrate Judge

E-filed February 6, 2012


United States District Court For the Northern District of California



On February 2, 2012, defendants Deanna Lieu and Ting Louangxay, proceeding pro se, 19 removed this case from Santa Clara County Superior Court. Docket No. 1 ("Notice of Removal"). 20

For the reasons stated below, the undersigned recommends that this action be summarily remanded 21 to state court. 22


Plaintiff Silicon Valley Homes, LLC ("SVH") filed this unlawful detainer action against Deanna Lieu, Ting Louangxay, and five Doe Defendants on January 27, 2012 in Santa Clara County 25 Superior Court. Notice of Removal, Ex. A ("Complaint"). According to the complaint, SVH 26 acquired the subject property through a foreclosure trustee's sale on January 17, 2012, in accordance 27 with California Civil Code section 2924. Id. at ¶ 4. On January 17, SVH served the defendants with 28 a three-day Notice to Quit. Id. at ¶ 6. Defendants did not respond to the Notice, nor did they vacate 2 the property. Id. at ¶ 7. 3 4 matter jurisdiction over the complaint. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Removal jurisdiction can be based on 5 diversity of citizenship or on the existence of a federal question. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 6 Removal to federal court is proper where the federal court would have original subject U.S. 386, 392 (1987). If, after a court's prompt review of a notice of removal, "it clearly appears on 7 the face of the notice and any exhibits annexed thereto that removal should not be permitted, the 8 court shallmake an order for summary remand." 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(4) (emphasis added). These 9 removal statutes are strictly construed against removal and place the burden on the defendant to 10 demonstrate that removal was proper. Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992)).

Here, the defendants assert that removal is proper based on federal question and diversity 13 jurisdiction. See Notice of Removal ¶¶ 14-15. Federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions "arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A 15 claim "arises under" federal law if, based on the "well-pleaded complaint rule," the plaintiff alleges 16 a federal cause of action. Vaden v. Discovery Bank, 129 S. Ct. 1262, 1272 (2009). Alternatively, the 17 complaint may establish that the plaintiff's right to relief "necessarily depends on resolution of a 18 substantial question of federal law." Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas 19 Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27--28 (1983). Defenses and counterclaims asserting a 21 federal question do not satisfy this requirement. Discovery Bank, 129 S. Ct. at 1272. 22 Removal ¶¶ 8, 14-15. These appear to be defenses that the defendants have raised or would raise 24 against the claim for unlawful detainer. However, SVH's complaint alleges only a state law claim 25 for unlawful detainer; it does not allege any federal claims whatsoever. See Complaint. Moreover, 26 resolving SVH's unlawful detainer claim does not depend on resolution of any substantial issues of 27 federal law. As stated above, defenses and counterclaims that raise questions of federal law will not 28 Storage Leasehold & Easement, 524 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008) (quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. 20 Defendants assert that a variety of federal laws are implicated in this action. Notice of suffice. See Discovery Bank, 129 S. Ct. at 1272. Accordingly, the defendants have failed to show 2 that this action arises under federal law. 3

Neither is there diversity jurisdiction over this action. Federal subject-matter jurisdiction 4 based on diversity requires complete diversity of citizenship and an amount in controversy in excess 5 of $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). In this matter, the plaintiff's complaint expressly states that the 6 amount in controversy is less than $10,000. Complaint p.1. The defendants appear to be California 7 citizens, and they state that SVH is incorporated in California.*fn1 See Notice of Removal ¶ 15(a); 8 Complaint ¶ 1. Neither the requirement of complete diversity nor the minimum amount in 9 controversy are satisfied. Therefore, there is no basis for this court to exercise jurisdiction based 10 either upon a federal question or diversity.


Because the parties have yet to consent to the undersigned's jurisdiction, this court ORDERS 13 the Clerk of the Court to reassign this case to a District Court judge. The undersigned further RECOMMENDS that the newly assigned judge summarily remand the case to Santa Clara County 15 Superior Court. Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72(b), any party may serve and ...

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