The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Andrew J. Guilford
Present: The Honorable ANDREW J. GUILFORD
Lisa Bredahl Not Present Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No. Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:
Proceedings: [IN CHAMBERS] ORDER REMANDING CASE FOR LACK
OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
On February 15, 2012, Plaintiff Federal National Mortgage Association ("Fannie Mae" or "Plaintiff") filed an unlawful detainer action against Defendants Gilberto R. Pineda and Celia Pineda (together, "Defendants") in Orange County Superior Court. A Notice of Removal was filed on May 14, 2012. The Notice of Removal alleges that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 because the case arises under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 ("PTFA"), 12 U.S.C. §§ 5220 et seq. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws or treaties of the United States.").
This Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over Plaintiff's action for at least two reasons. First, federal questions conferring jurisdiction "must be disclosed on the face of the complaint, unaided by the answer or by the petition for removal." California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 839 (9th Cir 2004) (quoting Gully v. First Nat'l Bank in Meridian, 299 U.S. 109, 112 (1936)). Because the federal statute here appears in the Notice of Removal, and not in Plaintiff's Complaint, Plaintiff's action does not "aris[e] under" the PFTA. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Second, courts have repeatedly held that the PFTA does not confer federal subject matter jurisdiction. See, e.g., Wells Fargo Bank v. Lapeen, 2011 WL 2194117, at *4 (N.D. Cal. June 6, 2011) ("PTFA's provisions do not create a federal claim . . . ."); Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, 2010 WL 4916578, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov.22, 2010) (same).
The Court also notes that where a plaintiff could maintain claims under both federal and state law, plaintiff can prevent removal by ignoring the federal claim and alleging only state law claims. Rains v. Criterion Systems, Inc., 80 F.3d 339, 344 (9th Cir.1996); see Fed. Nat. Mortg. Ass'n v. Martinez, 2012 WL 253879 (C.D. Cal. Jan. 26, 2012) (remanding removal of unlawful detainer action filed by Fannie Mae for lack of subject matter jurisdiction); see Fed. Nat. Mortg. Ass'n v. Brooks, 2012 WL 773073 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 7, 2012) (same).
The Court reminds Defendants that "[s]peedy adjudication is desirable [in unlawful detainer actions] to prevent subjecting the landlord to undeserved economic loss and the tenant to unmerited harassment and dispossession when his lease or rental agreement gives him the right to peaceful and undisturbed possession of the property." Lindsey v. Normet, 405 U.S. 56, 73 (1972). Improper removal of unlawful detainer cases harms the concerns stated in Lindsey. Defendants are cautioned not to improperly seek federal jurisdiction, particularly for delay. See Newman & Cahn, LLP v. Sharp, 388 F. Supp. 2d 115, 119 (E.D.N.Y. 2005) (finding that a removal by a pro se defendant was "frivolous and unwarranted" and warning "that the filing of another frivolous paper with the Court may result in monetary sanctions under Rule 11").
Because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case is REMANDED to Superior Court.