UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA
April 10, 2013
TITLE LANAKILA TRUST #12686, SOUTHLAND HOMES REAL ESTATE AND INVESTMENTS AS TRUSTEE
SERAPIO C. LUMAUIG, ET AL.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Andrew J. Guilford
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
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 the reasons that follow, this case is REMANDED to the California Superior Court, County of Orange.
Plaintiff Southland Homes Real Estate and Investment ("Plaintiff"), as trustee for Lanakila Trust #12686, filed a Complaint for unlawful detainer against Defendants Serapio C. Lumauig and Consolacio R. Lumauig ("Defendants") in state court, seeking to evict Defendants from a foreclosed property ("Property") and to recover damages not exceeding $10,000. (Defendant's Notice of Removal ("Notice"), Dkt. No. 1, Complaint, ¶¶ 9, 10.)
Defendants now file a Notice of Removal to remove the unlawful detainer action to this Court.
Defendants first allege that jurisdiction is proper based on diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Removing defendants have "'always' borne the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction, including any applicable amount in controversy requirement." Abrego v. Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 682-83 (9th Cir. 2006) (quoting Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566).
Here, Plaintiff states in itsComplaint that the damages are "Under $10,000" and that "Plaintiff will remit all sums in excess of the jurisdiction of the [state] court." (Complaint, at 1; id. ¶ 10.) In asserting that the amount in controversy is satisfied, Defendants simply make the conclusory statement that "Defendant claims her damages exceed $75,000." (Notice of Removal, Dkt. No. 1, at 3.) Such conclusory statements do not satisfy Defendants' burden concerning amount in controversy.
Defendants also claim that the Court has jurisdiction under bankruptcy-related statutes 28 U.S.C. §1334 and 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(2). (Notice, at 3.) Defendants do not identify who is bankrupt, and misconstrue the nature of the underlying lawsuit in this case. Here, the underlying action is not a bankruptcy action filed under title 11. Rather, it is an unlawful detainer action. Because the unlawful detainer action could not have been originally filed in federal court, removal is not proper under 28 U.S.C. 1441.
In closing, 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 raises 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 was "frivolous and unwarranted," but declining to order sanctions against the removing party "because she [was] pro se," though warning her "that the filing of another frivolous paper with the Court may result in monetary sanctions under Rule 11"). Similarly, sanctions might be necessary here against Defendants in the future.
Defendants fail to establish that federal jurisdiction exists over this case. Thus, the case is REMANDED to the appropriate state court.
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