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United Illuminating Realty Trust v. Christina Gersten

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


February 23, 2012

UNITED ILLUMINATING REALTY TRUST
v.
CHRISTINA GERSTEN, ET AL.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States District Judge

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

#6

JS-6

Title

Wendy K. Hernandez Not Present n/a

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiff(s): Attorneys Present for Defendant(s): Not Present Not Present

Proceedings: (In Chambers) Order REMANDING case to state court and MOOTING ex parte application

On February 8, 2012 Defendant Christina Gersten ("Defendant") filed a notice of removal of a civil action for unlawful detainer brought by United Illuminating Realty Trust ("Plaintiff"). See Dkt #3. On February 17, 2012, Plaintiff filed an ex parte application seeking remand and an award of attorney's fees. See Dkt. # 6. After reviewing Defendant's notice of removal and the underlying complaint, the Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this case. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004) (observing that a court is required to consider sua sponte whether it has subject matter jurisdiction).

Generally, subject matter jurisdiction is based on the presence of a federal question, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or on complete diversity between the parties, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332. If at any time before the entry of final judgment it appears that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case removed from state court, it must remand the action to state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Int'l Primate Prot. League v. Adm'rs of Tulane Educ. Fund, 500 U.S. 72 (1991). There is a "strong presumption" against removal jurisdiction, and the party seeking removal always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). If there is any doubt as to the propriety of removal, federal jurisdiction must be rejected. Id. at 567. Furthermore, "a defendant may not remove a case to federal court unless the plaintiff 's complaint establishes that the case 'arises under' federal law." Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 10 (1983).

The well-pleaded complaint rule requires a federal question to be evident from the face of the plaintiff's complaint for jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 to exist. See Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Here, the complaint only asserts a claim for unlawful detainer, a cause of action that is purely a matter of state law. Thus, from the face of the complaint, no basis for federal question jurisdiction exists.

Furthermore, the Court notes that there is no diversity jurisdiction in this matter. For a federal court to exercise diversity jurisdiction, there must be "complete" diversity between the parties and the amount in controversy requirement must be met. See Strawbridge v. Curtis, 7 U.S. (3 Cranch) 267, 267 (1806); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Here, Defendant's notice of removal fails to establish Plaintiff's citizenship. Moreover, the Court notes that the complaint for unlawful detainer seeks only past rent due in the amount of $31,400.00. See Dkt. # 3. Therefore, Defendant has failed to meet the $75,000.00 amount in controversy requirement, and diversity jurisdiction is lacking.

Defendant's notice of removal alleges removal jurisdiction based on 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Not. 3:20-25. Under Section 1441, a party may remove an action to the district court embracing the state court where the action is currently pending if the district court would also have original jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Since Defendant has failed to provide a sufficient basis for original federal jurisdiction, the action cannot properly be removed under Section 1441.

For the foregoing reasons, the Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter and therefore REMANDS the case. And as the Court has determined that remand is appropriate, Plaintiff's pending ex parte application seeking the same relief is rendered moot. See Dkt. # 6. The Court declines to award attorney's fees.

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20120223

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