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Benjamin S. White v. Taylor Bean and Whitaker Mortgage Corp.

UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JS-6 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA


March 22, 2012

BENJAMIN S. WHITE
v.
TAYLOR BEAN AND WHITAKER MORTGAGE CORP., ET AL.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable John F. Walter, United States District Judge

CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

Shannon Reilly

Courtroom Deputy

ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR PLAINTIFFS: None None Present

Court Reporter

ATTORNEYS PRESENT FOR DEFENDANTS: None

PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO LOS ANGELES SUPERIOR COURT

On January 18, 2012, Plaintiff Benjamin S. White filed a Complaint against Taylor Bean & Whitaker Mortgage Corp. ("TBW") and Mortgage Electronic Registration System ("MERS")in Los Angeles Superior Court. On February 17, 2012, MERS filed a Notice of Removal, alleging that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. See Bender v. Williamsport Area School, 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). "Because of the Congressional purpose to restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts on removal, the statute is strictly construed, and federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Duncan v.

, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations and quotations omitted). There is a strong presumption that the Court is without jurisdiction unless the contrary affirmatively appears. See Fifty Associates v. Prudential Insurance Company of America, 446 F.2d 1187, 1190 (9th Cir. 1990). As the party invoking federal jurisdiction, MERS bears the burden of demonstrating that removal is

See, e.g., Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992); Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988).

Federal jurisdiction founded on Section 1332(a) requires that the parties be in complete diversity and the amount in controversy exceed $75,000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. When, as in this case, "the complaint does not demand a dollar amount, the removing defendant bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds [$75,000]." Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997). "The district court may consider whether it is 'facially apparent' from the complaint that the jurisdictional amount is in controversy. If not, the court may consider facts in the removal petition, and may 'require parties to submit summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount in controversy at the time of Id. at 377 (quoting Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335-36 (5th Cir. 1995)); see also Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co. 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004) ("Since it [was] not facially evident from the complaint that more than $75,000 [was] in controversy, Allstate should have prove[n], by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy [met] the jurisdictional threshold.") (internal quotation omitted). "Conclusory allegations as to the amount in controversy are insufficient." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003).

In this case, MERS has failed to allege the citizenship of TBW. Accordingly, MERS has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the parties are completely diverse.

In addition, MERS simply concludes that the amount in controversy is in excess of $75,000. conclusory allegations do not prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the jurisdictional amount is satisfied. See, e.g., Alvarez v. Limited Express, LLC, 2007 WL 2317125, at *4 (S.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2007) (remanding where defendant "chose not to provide the underlying facts and instead relied on a speculative, conjectural estimate from plaintiff's motion papers"); see, also, Lowdermilk v. United States Bank National Association, 479 F.3d 994, 1002 (9th Cir. 2007) (holding that a court cannot base its jurisdiction on speculation and conjecture). Accordingly, MERS has failed to meet its burden of demonstrating that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.

Accordingly, this action is REMANDED to Los Angeles Superior Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

IT IS SO ORDERED.

20120322

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