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Freedom Home Mortgage Corporation v. Leon S. Littleford

June 7, 2012

FREEDOM HOME MORTGAGE CORPORATION
v.
LEON S. LITTLEFORD, SHERRY E. LITTLEFORD, ET AL.



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

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Deputy Clerk Court Reporter

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants: N/A N/A

Proceedings: Order Remanding Action to Ventura Superior Court for Lack of Subject

Matter Jurisdiction

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Freedom Home Mortgage Corporation ("Freedom Home") filed this unlawful detainer action in Ventura Superior Court against defendants Leon S. Littleford, Sherry E. Littleford (collectively, "the Littlefords"), and certain fictitious defendants on February 15, 2012.*fn1 The Littlefords are allegedly the former owners of real property located at 3037 E. Sierra Dr., Westlake Village, California 91362 ("the property").*fn2 The Littlefords or their predecessors executed a deed of trust on the property, but allegedly defaulted under the terms of this deed of trust which secured the property.*fn3 The trustee, Quality Loan Service Corporation, then allegedly filed and recorded a notice of default and election to sell the property.*fn4 On January 9, 2012, the property was allegedly sold to Freedom Home at a trustee's sale.*fn5 A trustee's deed upon sale reflecting the sale to Freedom Home was thereafter recorded in Ventura County.*fn6
On February 4, 2012, Freedom Home allegedly served a notice to quit on defendants requiring them to vacate the property within three days.*fn7 According to the complaint, though more than three days had elapsed, the Littleford continue in possession of the property without Freedom Home's permission or consent.*fn8 Freedom Home seeks restitution of the property as well as damages in the amount to be determined, according to proof, at trial, at a daily rate for each day from February 14, 2012 until the Littlefords relinquish the property, and the costs of this suit.*fn9

The Littlefords filed a notice of removal on April 23, 2012 invoking this court's federal question jurisdiction.*fn10

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard Regarding Removal Jurisdiction

Federal courts have a duty to examine their subject matter jurisdiction whether or not the parties raise the issue. See United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, Inc., 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); Thiara v. Kiernan, No. C06-03503 MJJ, 2006 WL 3065568, *2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2006) ("A district court has an independent obligation to examine whether removal jurisdiction exists before deciding any issue on the merits").

Where 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 ...


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