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Wells Fargo Bank, et al. v. Donnie Mayes

March 15, 2012

WELLS FARGO BANK, ET AL.
v.
DONNIE MAYES, ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Margaret M. Morrow Anel Huerta N/a

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Present: The Honorable MARGARET M. MORROW ANEL HUERTA N/A

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:

N/A N/A

Proceedings: Order Remanding Action to Los Angeles Superior Court for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction; Declining to Evaluate Defendants' Ex Parte Application[6]

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, NA, successor by merger to Wells Fargo Bank Southwest, NA formerly known as Wachovia Mortgage, FSB, formerly known as World Savings Bank, FSB ("Wells Fargo") filed this unlawful detainer action in Los Angeles Superior Court against defendants Donnie

R. Mayes, Donnie R. Mayes as trustee of the Donnie R. Mayes Living Trust (collectively, "Mayes"), and certain fictitious defendants on October 18, 2011.*fn1 Mayes is allegedly the former owner of real property located at 19355 Pacific Oaks Place, Rowland Heights, Los Angeles County, California 91748 ("the property").*fn2 On December 23, 2005, Mayes, as trustee, executed a deed of trust on the property as security for a promissory note.*fn3 Mayes allegedly defaulted on the note, and the trustee under the deed of trust filed a notice of default and election to sell the property.*fn4 In October, 2011, the property was allegedly sold to Wells Fargo at a foreclosure sale.*fn5 A trustee's deed reflecting the sale to Wells Fargo was recorded in Los Angeles County on October 6, 2011.*fn6
On October 6, 2011, Wells Fargo allegedly served a notice to quit on Mayes, which required him to vacate the property within three days.*fn7 Its complaint alleges that, although more than three days had elapsed, Mayes continues in possession of the property without Wells Fargo's permission or consent.*fn8 Wells Fargo seeks possession of the property as well as damages in the amount of $100 per day (the allegedly reasonable daily rental value) for each day from October 10, 2011 until Mayes relinquishes the property. It also seeks costs of suit.*fn9
Mayes filed a notice of removal on February 17, 2012, invoking the court's federal question and diversity jurisdiction.*fn10 On March 12, 2012, he filed a motion captioned "Emergency Ec Parte Application to Turnover Property (I) to Enforce the Federal Removal; (II) for an Order to Show Cause."*fn11 In the motion, Mayes states that on March 7, 2012, he was locked out of his house. He appears to argue that his eviction was improper because he had removed the unlawful detainer action to federal court.*fn12

II. DISCUSSION

"A district court has an independent obligation to examine whether removal jurisdiction exists before deciding any issue on the merits." Thiara v. Kiernan, No. C06-03503 MJJ, 2006 WL 3065568, *2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2006); see also United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, , 360 F.3d 960, 966 (9th Cir. 2004) ("[A] district court's duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction is not contingent upon the parties' arguments," citing Mitchell v. Maurer, 293 U.S. 237, 244 (1934)); see also Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Products, Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996) (lack of subject matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time by either party or by the court sua sponte).

When a case has been removed, the court may remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction at any time before final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) ("If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded"). The court may -- indeed must -- remand an action sua sponte if it determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction. See Kelton Arms Condominium Owners Ass'n v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[W]e have held that the district court must remand if it lacks jurisdiction," Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat'l Ass'n Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 F.3d ...


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