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Wilmington Trust, N.A v. Mobley

United States District Court, C.D. California

June 10, 2015



CHRISTINA A. SNYDER, District Judge.

Proceedings: (IN CHAMBERS) - MOTION TO REMAND (Dkt. 7, filed May 6, 2015).

The Court finds this motion appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; Local Rule 7-15. Accordingly, the hearing currently scheduled for June 22, 2015 is hereby vacated, and the matter is taken under submission.


On March 12, 2015, plaintiff Wilmington Trust, N.A. ("Wilmington") filed an action for unlawful detainer against defendant Eric Mobley and Does 1 through 10 in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Dkt. 1. Defendant, proceeding pro se, subsequently removed the action to this Court on April 20, 2015, asserting both diversity and federal question jurisdiction. Id.

On May 5, 2015, plaintiff filed a motion to remand the action to state court, contending that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction and, in any event, that the removal was untimely. Dkt. 7. Defendant filed an opposition on June 1, 2015. Dkt. 12. Having carefully considered the parties' arguments, the Court finds and concludes as follows.


A motion for remand is the proper procedure for challenging removal. Remand may be ordered either for lack of subject matter jurisdiction or for any defect in removal procedure. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Court strictly construes the removal statutes against removal jurisdiction, and jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. See Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix, Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999). The defendant also has the burden of showing that it has complied with the procedural requirements for removal. Judge William W. Schwarzer, et al., California Practice Guide: Federal Civil Procedure Before Trial § 2:609 (The Rutter Group 2007).

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), the defendant must file the notice of removal within 30 days after being served with a complaint alleging a basis for removal. When there are multiple defendants, all defendants named in the complaint and who have been properly joined and served in the action must also join in the removal. Hewitt v. City of Stanton, 798 F.2d 1230, 1232 (9th Cir. 1986).

If the defendant's removal notice fails to meet the procedural requirements of section 1446(b), the court may remand the action based on the plaintiff's timely motion. McAnally Enters., Inc. v. McAnally, 107 F.Supp.2d 1223, 1226 (C.D. Cal. 2000). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), a motion to remand based on any defect other than subject matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal.


A. The Court Lacks Subject Matter Jurisdiction

In general, federal subject matter jurisdiction exists where a case presents a claim arising under federal law ("federal question jurisdiction"), or where plaintiffs and defendants are residents of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 ("diversity jurisdiction"). See, e.g., Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust Co. v. Galindo, No. EDCV 10-01893-RGK (DTBx), 2011 WL 662324, at *1 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 11, 2011) (explaining the two types of jurisdiction). Defendant asserts that both federal question and diversity jurisdiction are present in the instant case. The Court addresses each contention in turn.

In his notice of removal, defendant appears to assert that federal question jurisdiction exists because plaintiff has executed "a scheme and artifice to defraud and to obtain Defendant's property" in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 1341 and 1343. Not. Removal at 4. Whether a case arises under federal law is generally determined by the well-pleaded complaint rule. Pursuant to that rule, "a right or immunity created by the Constitution or laws of the United States must be an element, and an essential one, of the plaintiff's cause of action." California Shock Trauma Air Rescue v. State Compensation Ins. Fund, 636 F.3d 538, 542 (9th Cir. 2011) (citations omitted). Moreover, "the existence of a defense based upon federal law is insufficient to support jurisdiction." Wayne v. DHL Worldwide Express, 294 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2002); Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 (1987) ("[I]t is now settled law that a case may not be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense... even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint.") (emphasis in original); Cal. Equity Mgmt. Grp., Inc. v. Jiminez, No. 13-CV-1222 JSC, 2013 WL 1748051 at *1 (N.D. Cal. April 23, 2013) ("[A] ...

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