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US Bank, N.A. v. Trimmer

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 7, 2015

U.S. BANK, N.A., AS TRUSTEE FOR SERVERTIS REO PASS-THROUGH TRUST I, Plaintiff,
v.
STACIA TRIMMER; DARRYL JONES; AND DOES, Occupants 1-10, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND AND REQUEST FOR ATTORNEY FEES AND COSTS AND DENYING REQUEST TO BAR FUTURE REMOVALS [10]

OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff U.S. Bank, N.A., as Trustee for Servertis REO Pass-Through Trust I ("U.S. Bank"), moves to remand this action to the Superior Court of the State of California, Los Angeles County, for lack of federal subject-matter jurisdiction. (ECF No. 10). Further, U.S. Bank seeks attorney fees and costs in the amount of $5, 218.00 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) and a bar on any future removals of the action. ( Id. ) U.S. Bank argues that Mary Jones[1], a non-party, lacks standing to remove the state court action. ( Id. ) In addition, Jones failed to establish a sufficient basis for removal and is simply obstructing U.S. Bank's ability to recover possession of the real property. For the reasons discussed below, the Court finds that Jones had no objectively reasonable basis for removal. Therefore, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and AWARDS attorney fees and costs against Jones in the amount of $5, 218.00. ( Id. ) Plaintiff's request for an order precluding future removals of this action is DENIED.[2] ( Id. )

II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

U.S. Bank's claim arose out of a non-judicial foreclosure sale of property located at 5467 Bradna Drive, Los Angeles, California 90043 ("Property"). (ECF No. 10, Mot. to Remand ["MTR"] 1.) On April 7, 2011, upon sale, a trustee's deed executed by Defendant Stacia Trimmer was recorded granting the Property to U.S. Bank N.A., Trustee for SerVertis Fund Trust 2009-2 Grantor Trust Certificates, Series 2009-2. (ECF No. 11, ["RJN"] Ex. 1.)[3] On February 29, 2012, the Property was granted to U.S. Bank. (RJN Ex. 2.)[4] On March 10, 2012, U.S. Bank served Defendants Stacia Trimmer and Darryl Jones (collectively "Defendants") written notice to quit and deliver possession of the Property within three days. ( Id. Ex. 3.) Defendants did not deliver possession of the Property. ( Id. ) On March 28, 2012, U.S. Bank filed an unlawful detainer action against Defendants in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. ( Id. )

On July 21, 2014, Jones filed and served a Notice of Bankruptcy Stay on both U.S. Bank and the Santa Monica Courthouse, Los Angeles County Superior Court ("State Court"). (ECF No. 1, ["NOR"] ¶ 3.) On July 25, 2014, a jury trial was held in State Court. (NOR ¶¶ 4-5.) On August 12, 2014, judgment was entered against Defendants for $11, 050 in total damages and for restitution of the Property. (RJN, Ex. 5.) On December 20, 2013, a quitclaim deed was recorded that quitclaimed the Property to U.S. Bank. (RJN Ex. 4.)

On December 22, 2014, Jones removed the action to federal court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441 on the basis of purported federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction. Specifically, Jones alleged that U.S. Bank and the State Court "in violation of 11 U.S.C 362 [sic] Bankruptcy Stay commence[d] movement toward a jury trial on July 25, 2014...." (NOR ¶ 4.)

On January 21, 2015, U.S. Bank filed a Motion to Remand seeking: (1) an order from this Court remanding this case to State Court; (2) attorney fees and costs in the amount of $5, 218.00; and (3) an order specifically precluding any future removals of this action. (ECF No. 10.) Jones timely opposed and U.S. Bank replied. (ECF Nos. 13 [Opp'n], 15.) That motion is now before the Court for consideration.

III. LEGAL STANDARD

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject-matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; see, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in state court may be removed to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action presents a federal question under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or diversity of citizenship under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. To exercise diversity jurisdiction, a federal court must find complete diversity of citizenship among the adverse parties, and the amount in controversy must exceed $75, 000, usually exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

Courts strictly construe the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, and "[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006) (citing Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566).

IV. DISCUSSION

A. Motion to Remand

1. Timeliness of Removal


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