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E & S Ring Management Corporation v. Pruce

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 8, 2013

E & S Ring Management Corporation
v.
Estela Pruce et al.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL Proceedings: IN CHAMBERS ORDER Remanding Case to State Court

STEPHEN V. WILSON, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

On April 26, 2013, E & S Management Corporation ("Plaintiff") filed an unlawful detainer action against pro se defendant Estela Pruce ("Defendant") in the Superior Court of Los Angeles. (Dkt. 1, Not. Removal, Ex. B (Plaintiff's Compl.)). On July 29, 2013, Defendant removed the case to this United States District Court. (Not. Removal). Because we find that Defendants have not established federal subject matter jurisdiction, the case is REMANDED to state court for further proceedings.

II. LEGAL STANDARD

Removal jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C. § 1441. A "strong presumption" against removal jurisdiction exists. Gaus v. Miles, Inc. , 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992). In seeking removal, the defendant bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction exists. Scott v. Breeland , 792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986).Where a case has been removed, a federal 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.").

III. DISCUSSION

Defendant alleges that this Court has jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1).[1] (Not.Removal, at 3). Defendant also cites to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446 in support of her removal. (Id. at 1). Because 28 U.S.C. § 1441 provides that an action brought in state court may be removed if the district courts have "original jurisdiction, " we also analyze whether the removal is supported by diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, or federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

A. Civil Rights Removal

28 U.S.C. § 1443 "gives a right of removal to certain petitioners who claim federally secured rights as a defense to a state prosecution." California v. Sandoval , 434 F.2d 635, 636 (9th Cir. 1971). However, "the Supreme Court has given § 1443 a restrictive interpretation." Id . ("In two related cases in 1966, Georgia v. Rachel , 384 U.S. 780 and Greenwood v. Peacock , 384 U.S. 808, the [Supreme] Court set out the narrow parameters...."). To establish Removal under § 1443(1), Defendant must satisfy a two-part test: (1) Defendant "must assert, as a defense to the prosecution, rights that are given to [her] by explicit statutory enactment protecting equal racial civil rights;" and (2) Defendant "must assert that the state courts will not enforce that right, and that allegation must be supported by reference to a state statute or a constitutional provision that purports to command the state courts to ignore the federal rights." Ward v. Hernandez, No. 5:13-00383 JGB (SPx), 2013 WL 3934009, at *1 (C.D. Cal. July 26, 2013) (quoting Patel v. Del Taco, Inc. , 446 F.3d 996, 999 (9th Cir. 2006)).

Elaborating on what the first prong of the two-part test means, the Supreme Court in Georgia v. Rachel stated the following:

[T]hat the phrase any law providing for equal civil rights' must be construed to mean any law providing for specific civil rights stated in terms of racial equality. Thus, Defendant's broad contentions under... the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment cannot support a valid claim for removal under § 1443, because the guarantees of [that] clause[] are phrased in terms of general application available to all persons or citizens, rather than in the specific language of racial equality that § 1443 demands. Georgia v. Rachel , 384 U.S. at 792.

Here, Defendant argues that the unlawful detainer action is a "[d]enial of due process" because Defendant "is being dispossessed of her property, in noncompliance" with State rules of evidence and civil procedure. (Not. Removal, at 4). Defendant also contends that the State rules of evidence and civil procedure were applied "without equal protection." Id . Each of these claims are broad contentions arising under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and are not phrased in the specific language of racial equality that § 1443 demands. Therefore, Defendant fails to satisfy the first prong for removal under § 1443.

The second prong of the two-part test requires that a litigant "assert that the state courts will not enforce [a specified federal] right, and that allegation must be supported by reference to a state statute or a constitutional provision that purports to command the state courts to ignore the federal rights." Ward, 2013 WL 3934009, at *2 (citing Sandoval , 434 F.2d at 636).

Here, Defendant has not identified any specific state statute or constitutional provision that commands the state court to ignore Defendant's federal rights. See Ward, 2013 WL 3934009, at *2 (citing Wells Fargo Bank Nat. Ass'n v. Vann, No. 13-01148, 2013 WL 1856711 (N.D. Cal. May 2, 2013)); HSBC Bank USA v. Kubik, No. 13-1692, 2013 WL 1694670, at *3 (C.D. Cal. Apr. 16, 2013) ("Defendant Kubik does not, and cannot identify any California state law or constitutional provision that commands state courts to ignore an amendment to the U.S. ...


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