The opinion of the court was delivered by: Honorable Gary Allen Feess
Present: The Honorable GARY ALLEN FEESS
Chris Silva for Renee Fisher None N/A
Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.
Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants: None None
Proceedings: (In Chambers)
I. INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND
On January 31, 2012, Plaintiff Aurora Bank FSB filed an unlawful detainer complaint against Defendants Dale L. Scott III, Joanne C. Scott, and Michael Mallahan in Santa Barbara County Superior Court. (Docket No. 1 [Not. of Removal], Ex. A [Compl.]) The Complaint alleges that Plaintiff purchased Defendants' real property in Guadalupe, California, by virtue of a lawful foreclosure sale and that Defendants have continued to possess the premises despite being served with a 90-day notice to vacate and deliver up possession on October 28, 2011. (Compl. ¶¶ 1--7.) Defendants demurred to Plaintiff's Complaint on February 10, 2012, arguing that the unlawful detainer notice was defective because it failed to comply with the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, 12 U.S.C. § 5220. (Not. of Removal, Ex. B [Demurrer] at 3.) This demurrer was overruled. (Not. of Removal ¶ 9.) Defendant Dale Scott removed the action to this Court on June 12, 2012, alleging federal question jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331 on the basis that the demurrer raises a question of federal law. (Id. ¶¶ 7--10.) Because the Court concludes that the lawsuit does not arise under federal law, it REMANDS the case to Santa Barbara County Superior Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(h)(3), "[i]f the court determines at any time that it lacks subject-matter jurisdiction, the court must dismiss the action." Fed. R. Civ. P. 12(h)(3). "[A] court may raise the question of subject matter jurisdiction, sua sponte, at any time during the pendency of the action . . . ." Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 826 (9th Cir. 2002); see also United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 966 (9th Cir. 2004) ("Here 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.").
The Ninth Circuit has held that courts must "strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction" and reject federal jurisdiction "if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation omitted). "The strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always ...