The opinion of the court was delivered by: Present: The Honorable Percy Anderson, United States District Judge
Paul Songco Not Reported N/A
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter Tape No.
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:
Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER
The Court is in receipt of a Notice of Removal filed by defendants Mauricio Suarez and Trisha Suarez ("Defendants") on June 04, 2012. [Docket No. 1.] Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s ("Plaintiff") Complaint, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, asserts a single cause of action for unlawful detainer. Defendants, who appear pro se, assert that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C § 1332, and civil rights jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1).
When reviewing a notice of removal, "it is to be presumed that a cause lies outside the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Abrego Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006) (internal quotation marks omitted)). Courts "strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction," and "the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). Moreover, removal is proper only in "state-court actions that originally could have been filed in federal court . . . ." Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S. Ct. 2425, 96 L. Ed. 2d 318 (1987). "If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
First, Defendants contend removal is proper on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. For diversity jurisdiction to lie, a Notice of Removal must adequately allege that complete diversity exists between the parties and that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendants have not met -- and cannot meet -- their burden, however, of demonstrating that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.
"[W]hen a state-court complaint affirmatively alleges that the amount in controversy is less than the jurisdictional threshold, the 'party seeking removal must prove with legal certainty that [the] jurisdictional amount is met.'" Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 2007) (quoting Lowdermilk v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 479 F.3d 994, 1000 (9th Cir. 2007)). Here, the caption of the Complaint clearly states that the amount demanded is less than $10,000. In unlawful detainer actions, the title to the property is not involved -- only the right to possession is implicated. Evans v. Superior Court, 67 Cal. App. 3d 162, 170 (1977). Contrary to Defendants' arguments in the Notice of Removal, then, the amount in controversy is determined by the amount of damages sought in the Complaint, rather than the value of the subject real property. Id.; see also, e.g., US Bank N.A. v.
, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 43054, at *4-5 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 27, 2012). Here, Plaintiff's Complaint seeks damages in the amount of $73.33 per day from December 28, 2011, through the date of entry of judgment in its unlawful detainer action, up to a jurisdictional maximum of $10,000. (See Compl. ¶¶ 10-11.) Based ...