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U.S. Bank National Association v. Bellinger

United States District Court, E.D. California

October 2, 2014

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR CREDIT SUISSE FIRST BOSTON MORTGAGE SECURITIES CORP, CSMC MORTGAGE-BACKED PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2007-4, Plaintiff,
v.
MARK BELLINGER, Defendant.

FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATIONS TO REMAND CASE TO CALVERAS COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT VACATING HEARING ON OCTOBER 10, 2014 ON THE MOTION TO REMAND

BARBARA A. McAULIFFE, Magistrate Judge.

Defendant Mark Bellinger ("Defendant"), proceeding pro se, filed this "removal" action on September 2, 2014. (Doc. 1.) On September 5, 2014, Plaintiff U.S. Bank filed a motion to remand. Doc. 2.) Defendant filed an opposition to the motion on September 25, 2014. (Doc. 7.) The underlying complaint is an unlawful detainer action filed by Plaintiff. By order on September 19, 2014, this motion was referred to the Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1) and Local Rules 302 through 304.[1] The Court determines the matter is suitable for decision without oral argument. Therefore, the hearing set for October 10, 2014 is vacated and the matter is hereby submitted on the pleadings. See Local Rule 78-230(g). Having considered the parties' papers, the entire file in this action and in the case of 1:14-cv-1076, Bellinger v. Wells Fargo, the Court rules as follows. For the reasons stated below, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this unlawful detainer action, and therefore recommends this case be remanded to the Calaveras County Superior Court.

DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) empowers a defendant to remove an action to federal court if the district court has original jurisdiction. Catepillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 286, 392 (1987). The removal statute provides:

Except 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 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).

A removing party must file a notice of removal of a civil action within 30 days of receipt of a copy of the initial pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Removal statutes are strictly construed with doubts resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction and remand. See Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The removing party bears the burden to prove propriety of removal. Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 683-685 (9th Cir.2006); Calif. ex. rel . Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir.2004) ("the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls to the party invoking the statute"). A district court may remand an action to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or a defect in the removal procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

B. This Court Does Not Have Subject Matter Jurisdiction over Plaintiff's Claims

1. Federal Question Jurisdiction

Defendant alleges that removal is proper based on federal question jurisdiction. (Doc. 7.) Defendant argues that federal question jurisdiction exists because he is challenging the constitutionality of the foreclosure statutes under which Plaintiff obtained title to the property. Defendant contends the California foreclosure statutes, Cal Code Civ.P. §§1161-1162 and Cal.Civ.C. §§2924-2934, violate Due Process, Equal Protection and other Constitutional provisions.

District courts have "original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Determination of federal question jurisdiction "is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule, ' which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of a plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Catepillar, 482 U.S. at 392. To invoke federal question jurisdiction, a complaint must establish "either that (1) federal law creates the cause of action or that (2) plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law." Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage & Easement, 524 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008).

The complaint states a single cause of action for unlawful detainer. Doc. 1, p. 8. Plaintiff alleges that it served on Defendant a written Notice to Occupants to vacate premises and that defendant did not vacate the premises.[2] Claims for unlawful detainer arise under state law, not federal law. See Fannie Mae v. Suarez, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82300, at *6 (E.D.Cal.2011) ("Unlawful detainer actions are strictly the province of state court"); Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Leonardo, 2011 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 83854, at * 2 (C.D.Cal.2011) ("the complaint only asserts a claim for unlawful detainer, a cause of action that is purely a matter of state law"). Accordingly, the Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction because the complaint does not contain a federal question.

Defendant argues that removal is proper because he has challenged the complaint by alleging that the statutes are unconstitutional. However, any purported federal law defense or counterclaim is insufficient to confer jurisdiction over Plaintiff's unlawful detainer action. Valles v. Ivy Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir.2005) ("A federal law defense to a state-law claim does not confer jurisdiction on a federal court, even if the defense is that of federal preemption and is anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint."). Thus, ...


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