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Mission Property Partners LLC v. Taylor

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

December 30, 2013

Mission Property Partners LLC,
v.
Thelma D. Taylor et al.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

MARGARET M. MORROW, District Judge.

Proceedings: Order Remanding Case to Los Angeles Superior Court for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Mission Property Partners LLC ("Mission") filed this unlawful detainer action in Los Angeles Superior Court against Thelma Taylor and certain fictitious defendants on September 13, 2013.[1] Defendants are allegedly holdover occupants in possession of real property located in Carson, California ("the property").[2] Plaintiff acquired ownership of and title to the property at a trustee sale, and it has allegedly perfected its title pursuant to California Civil Code §§ 2924 et seq. [3]

Plaintiff alleges that on September 6, 2013, it served a written three day notice to quit on defendants, which expired on September 9, 2013.[4] It asserts that defendants remained in possession of the property after the notice to quit expired, without its consent and despite its demands for immediate possession.[5]

Plaintiff seeks possession of the property, damages of $50.00 per day from September 9, 2013 until the date judgment is entered, and costs of suit.[6]

On November 15, 2013, Taylor removed the action to this court, invoking the court's jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332(a).[7] On December 9, 2013, plaintiff filed a motion to remand.[8]

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, " citing Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat'l Ass'n Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 F.3d 1209, 1211 (9th Cir. 1998)). For the reasons discussed below, the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and the action must be remanded to Los Angeles Superior Court.[9]

B. Federal Question Jurisdiction

1. Legal Standard Governing Federal Question Jurisdiction

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, district courts "have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Federal question jurisdiction is presumed absent unless defendant, as the party seeking to invoke the court's jurisdiction, shows that plaintiff has either alleged a federal cause of action, American Well Works Co. v. Layne & Bowler Co., 241 U.S. 257, 260 (1916) ("a suit arises under the law that creates the action"), a state cause of action that turns on a substantial dispositive issue of federal law, Franchise Tax Bd. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 9 (1983); Smith v. Kansas City Title & Trust Co., 255 U.S. 180, 199 (1921), or a state cause of action that Congress has transformed into an inherently ...


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