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Deutsche Bank Trust Company Americas As Trustee, Rali v. Robert Dixon and Does 1-50

June 20, 2012

DEUTSCHE BANK TRUST COMPANY AMERICAS AS TRUSTEE, RALI, 2006-QS3, 3/30/2006, 40312, PLAINTIFF,
v.
ROBERT DIXON AND DOES 1-50, INCLUSIVE, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Kendall J. Newman United States Magistrate Judge

ORDER and FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Presently before the court is plaintiff's motion to remand this unlawful detainer action to the Superior Court of California for the County of Sacramento ("Superior Court") (Dkt. No. 5).*fn1 Defendant failed to file an opposition to the motion. Because oral argument would not materially aid the resolution of the pending motion, this matter is submitted on the briefs and record without a hearing. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); E. Dist. Local Rule 230(g). Having reviewed the filings in this case, the undersigned recommends that plaintiff's motion to remand be granted and that this case be remanded to the Superior Court on the grounds that this court lacks federal subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's unlawful detainer claim.

I. BACKGROUND

On March 22, 2012, plaintiff initiated a "limited civil" case*fn2 in the Superior Court by filing a verified unlawful detainer complaint, which noted that the amount demanded "Does Not Exceed $10,000" ("Complaint"). (Compl. at 1, attached as Ex. A to Notice of Removal.) Plaintiff seeks to recover possession of the subject residential property located in Citrus Heights, California. (Compl. ¶¶ 1-2.) The Complaint alleges that on January 30, 2012, plaintiff acquired the property at a duly conducted foreclosure sale, obtained a Trustee's Deed Upon Sale, and perfected title in itself. (Id. ¶ 5 & Ex. B.)

Defendant appears to be the former owner of the property. (See Compl., Ex. A.) Plaintiff alleges that on March 14, 2012, it served defendant with a Notice To Vacate Premises and deliver possession of the property within three days. (See Compl. ¶ 6 & Ex. C.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant failed to timely vacate and deliver possession of the property and continues to possess and occupy the property. (Id. ¶¶ 3, 7.) Through this action, plaintiff seeks:

(1) restitution and possession of the subject property, (2) damages for wrongful possession of the property at a rate of $35.24 per day from the expiration of the notice to vacate until defendant or defendants vacate the property; and (3) costs of suit. (Compl. at 3.) In its motion to remand, plaintiff represents that it served plaintiff with the summons on or about April 16, 2012. (Mot. to Remand at 4.)

On May 14, 2012, defendant removed this unlawful detainer action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441, asserting that this court has subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's claim on the basis of federal question jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331.*fn3 (Notice of Removal at 2-3.) Defendant asserts that federal question jurisdiction exists because of plaintiff's defenses or counterclaims premised on, among other federal statutes, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act, and the Truth In Lending Act. (Id. at 2-3.)

On May 18, 2012, plaintiff filed an ex parte application to remand this case to the Superior Court, and subsequently filed a noticed motion to remand on May 25, 2012. Plaintiff's motion remand argues that this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's single unlawful detainer claim, and that defendant's removal was untimely.*fn4 Defendant did not file a timely written opposition or statement of non-opposition in regards to the motion to remand, which violates this court's Local Rule 230(c).

II. LEGAL STANDARDS

In relevant part, the federal removal statute provides:

(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending. . . .

28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). "The defendant bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009), cert. denied, 131 S. Ct. 65 (2010). "The removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction," id., and removal jurisdiction "must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance" Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2010) (citation and quotation marks omitted).

Additionally, a federal court has an independent duty to assess whether federal subject matter jurisdiction exists, whether or not the parties raise the issue. See United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir. 2004) (stating that "the district court had a duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction over the removed action sua sponte, whether the parties raised the issue or not"); accord Rains v. Criterion Sys., Inc., 80 F.3d 339, 342 (9th Cir. 1996). Because subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived by the parties, a district court must remand a case if it lacks jurisdiction over the matter. Kelton Arms Condominium Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Homestead Ins. Co.,346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003) (citing Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat'l Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 ...


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