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Raissian v. Quality Loan Service Corp.

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 19, 2014

AZAR SABETI RAISSIAN
v.
QUALITY LOAN SERVICE CORP. ET AL

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

BEVERLY REID O'CONNELL, District Judge.

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [9] AND VACATING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS [13]

I. INTRODUCTION

Pending before the Court are two separate motions: (1) Plaintiff Azar Sabeti Raissian's Motion to Remand (Dkt. No. 9), and (2) Defendant Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc.'s Motion to Dismiss (Dkt. No. 13). After considering the papers filed in support of and in opposition to the instant motions, the Court deems this matter appropriate for decision without oral argument of counsel. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, the Court finds it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this matter and accordingly GRANTS the Motion to Remand and VACATES the Motion to Dismiss.

II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

This matter involves a real property dispute between Plaintiff Azar Sabeti Raissian ("Plaintiff") and Defendants Select Portfolio Servicing, Inc. ("SPS") and Quality Loan Service Corp. ("Quality") (collectively, "Defendants"). On September 22, 1995, Plaintiff obtained a mortgage loan secured by a parcel of real property located at 6425 Valley Circle Terrace, Los Angeles, California, 91307. (Compl. ¶ 1, 17; see also id. Ex. 3.) The loan's principal is $585, 000. ( Id. Ex. 3 at 2.) The original deed of trust named United Independent Title Insurance Company as the trustee. ( Id. Ex. 3 at 1-2.)

According to the Complaint, Plaintiff applied for a loan modification on January 1, 2013. ( Id. ¶ 27.) Plaintiff alleges he never received a written determination as to his eligibility for a loan modification. ( Id. ) Quality became the loan's trustee later that year on October 4, 2013. ( Id. ¶ 18.) Three days after the trustee substitution, Defendants recorded a notice of default and election to sell against the property. ( Id. ¶ 19.) Defendants then recorded a notice of trustee's sale on January 10, 2014. ( Id. ¶ 28.)

Believing the property's foreclosure would violate his rights under California law, Plaintiff initiated this action in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles on August 7, 2014. ( See Notice of Removal ("Removal") Ex. 1.) The Complaint brings six claims against Defendants. These include five claims for violations of the California Civil Code, [1] as well as one claim for unfair business practices under California Business and Professions Code section 17200 et seq. (Compl. ¶¶ 21-53.)

Defendant SPS removed the matter to this Court on October 15, 2014, invoking this Court's diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). (Removal ¶¶ 7-13). Plaintiff is domiciled in and therefore a citizen of California. (Compl. ¶ 1.) SPS is a Utah citizen for purposes of diversity jurisdiction.[2] (Removal ¶ 9(a).) Like Plaintiff, Quality is a California citizen. ( Id. ¶ 9(b).) SPS nevertheless alleges complete diversity exists and removal is proper because as the loan trustee, Quality is a nominal defendant whose citizenship should be disregarded for subject matter jurisdiction purposes.

Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand on October 20, 2014.[3] (Dkt. No. 9.) Plaintiff asserts that Quality abused its authority as trustee and is therefore not a nominal defendant, and that the amount in controversy does not satisfy §1332's jurisdictional requirement. SPS timely opposed the motion. (Dkt. No. 17.) SPS also filed a Motion to Dismiss the Complaint in its entirety. (Dkt. No. 13.)

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess original jurisdiction only as authorized by the Constitution and federal statute. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Original jurisdiction may be established pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Under § 1332, a federal district court has "original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, " and the dispute is between "citizens of different states." Id. § 1332(a)(1). The United States Supreme Court has interpreted the diversity statute to require "complete diversity of citizenship, " meaning each plaintiff must be diverse from each defendant. Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 67-68 (1996).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a civil action may be removed to the district court only if the plaintiff could have originally filed the action in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). This means removal is proper only if the district court has original jurisdiction over the issues alleged in the state court complaint. If a matter is removable solely on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under § 1332, it may not be removed if any properly joined and served defendant is a citizen of the forum state. Id. § 1441(b)(2).

In determining whether removal in a given case is proper, a court should "strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Id. The removing ...


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