United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER: (1) GRANTING MOTION FOR LEAVE TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS (ECF NO. 2); AND (2) SUA SPONTE REMANDING THIS ACTION TO SUPERIOR COURT
CYNTHIA BASHANT, District Judge.
Defendant Earl Wade ("Defendant"), proceeding pro se, has filed a Notice of Removal (ECF No. 1 ("Notice")), along with a motion to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") (ECF No. 2). Defendant has not paid the civil filing fee required to commence the action in this Court. For the reasons stated herein, the Court GRANTS the motion to proceed IFP, and sua sponte REMANDS this action to San Diego Superior Court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
I. MOTION TO PROCEED IFP
All parties instituting any civil action, suit, or proceeding in a district court of the United States, except an application for writ of habeas corpus, must pay a filing fee of $350. See 28 U.S.C. § 1914(a). An action may proceed despite a party's failure to prepay the entire fee only if he is granted leave to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a). See Rodriguez v. Cook, 169 F.3d 1176, 1177 (9th Cir. 1999).
The Court has reviewed Defendant's affidavit of assets and finds the affidavit sufficiently shows that he is unable to pay the fees or post securities required to maintain this action. Defendant is not currently employed and has no checking or savings accounts. He also does not own property or a car and claims monthly debts of $550. Accordingly, the Court GRANTS Defendant's motion to proceed IFP.
II. SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION
A. Legal Standard
"Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). "They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute, which is not to be expanded by judicial decree." Id. (internal citations omitted). "It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Id. (internal citations omitted); see also Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006).
Consistent with the limited jurisdiction of federal courts, the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Sygenta Crop Prot. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002); O'Halloran v. Univ. of Wash., 856 F.2d 1375, 1380 (9th Cir. 1988). "The strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (citations omitted); see also Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assoc., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990); O'Halloran, 856 F.2d at 1380. "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566.
It is well-established that "a district court's duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction is not contingent upon the parties' arguments." See United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 966 (9th Cir. 2004). Courts may consider the issue sua sponte. Demery v. Kupperman, 735 F.2d 1139, 1149 n.8 (9th Cir. 1984); Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004). Indeed, the Supreme Court has emphasized that "district courts have an independent obligation to address subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte. '" Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global Grp., L.P., 541 U.S. 567, 593 (2004) (quoting United States v. S. Cal. Edison Co., 300 F.Supp.2d 964, 972 (E.D. Cal. 2004)).
B. Factual Background
The Complaint brings one state law cause of action for unlawful detainer against Defendants Earl Wade and Karla Auzu. (Compl. at p. 1.) The Complaint alleges that on or about January 10, 2011, Defendants Earl Wade and Karla Auzu entered into a six month lease and agreed to pay monthly rent of $1, 200. (Id. at ¶ 6(a).) On July 12, 2011, the agreement became a month-to-month rental and rent was increased to $1, 225 as the tenants began using a storage unit as part of the rental. (Id. at ¶ 6(d).) On October 31, 2014, Defendants were served with a 3-day notice to pay rent or quit. (Id. at ¶ 7(a).) Plaintiffs are seeking less than $10, 000 for nonpayment of rent. (Id. at p. 1 & ¶ 6(f).) Defendant states in his Notice of Removal that he is now a "former tenant of the premises." (Notice at p. 2.)
Defendant seeks to remove this unlawful detainer action brought against him by Plaintiffs San Diego Pacificvu LLC and Greg Hinchy in state court. Thus, the Court must determine whether there is either diversity or federal question jurisdiction. Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Defendant contends there is federal question jurisdiction. The ...