United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER FOR CLERK OF COURT TO REASSIGN CASE REPORT
MARIA-ELENA JAMES United States Magistrate Judge.
26, 2016, Defendants removed this unlawful detainer action
from Contra Costa County Superior Court. However, as it
appears that jurisdiction is lacking, this case should be
remanded to state court. As Defendants did not yet consent to
magistrate judge jurisdiction, the Court ORDERS the Clerk of
Court to reassign this case to a district judge with the
recommendation that the case be remanded to Contra Costa
County Superior Court.
matter jurisdiction is fundamental and cannot be waived.
Billingsly v. C.I.R., 868 F.2d 1081, 1085 (9th Cir.
1989). Federal courts can adjudicate only those cases which
the Constitution and Congress authorize them to adjudicate -
those involving diversity of citizenship or a federal
question, or those to which the United States is a party.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994); see also Chen-Cheng Wang ex rel. United
States v. FMC Corp., 975 F.2d 1412, 1415 (9th Cir. 1992)
(federal courts have no power to consider claims for which
they lack subject-matter jurisdiction).
to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “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 the defendants, to the district court of the
United States for the district and division embracing the
place where such action is pending.” However, the
removal statutes are construed restrictively so as to limit
removal jurisdiction. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); see also
Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d
1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). The burden of establishing
federal jurisdiction for purposes of removal is on the party
seeking removal. Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372
F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004). The district court must
remand the case if it appears before final judgment that the
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c); Albingia Versicherungs A.G. v. Schenker
Int’l, Inc., 344 F.3d 931, 936 (9th Cir. 2003).
matter jurisdiction is determined from the face of the
complaint. Toumajian v. Frailey, 135 F.3d 648, 653
n.2 (9th Cir. 1998) (“[f]or removal to be appropriate,
a federal question must appear on the face of the
complaint”); see also Caterpillar, Inc. v.
Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (federal question
must be presented on face of plaintiff’s properly
pleaded complaint); Fifty Assocs. v. Prudential Ins. Co.
of Am., 446 F.2d 1187, 1189-90 (9th Cir. 1970)
(existence of diversity jurisdiction must be sufficient on
the face of the complaint). Jurisdiction may not be based on
a claim raised as a defense or a counterclaim. K2 Am.
Corp. v. Roland Oil & Gas, LLC, 653 F.3d 1024, 1029
(9th Cir. 2011).
the face of the complaint, which asserts only one state law
claim for unlawful detainer, does not provide any ground for
removal. “An unlawful detainer action, on its face,
does not arise under federal law but is purely a creature of
California law.” Snavely v. Johnson, 2015 WL
5242925, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Sept. 8, 2015) (citations omitted);
HSBC Bank USA N.A. v. Serrato, 2013 WL 3337813, at
*2 (N.D. Cal. July 1, 2013).
where diversity is cited as a basis for jurisdiction,
“removal is not permitted if a defendant in the case is
a citizen of the state in which the plaintiff originally
brought the action, even if the opposing parties are
diverse.” Snavely, 2015 WL 5242925, at *2
(citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b); Lincoln Prop. Co. v.
Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005)) (granting
plaintiff’s motion to remand unlawful detainer case
because defendants were California citizens and action had
originally been brought in California state court). Moreover,
the damages claim in this case is under $10, 000. District
courts has original jurisdiction over diversity cases only
where the amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and
costs, exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Pursuant
to California Code of Civil Procedure section 86(a)(4), an
unlawful detainer is a limited civil action where the
“whole amount of damages claimed” must be
“twenty-five thousand dollars ($25, 000) or
less.” “[T]he amount of damages sought in the
complaint, not the value of the subject real property,
determines the amount in controversy.”
Snavely, 2015 WL 5242925, at *2. Thus, “even
where an unlawful detainer action involves foreclosure on a
mortgage that exceeds $75, 000, the amount of the mortgage
does not satisfy the amount in controversy
requirement.” Id. (citing Deutsche Bank
Nat’l Trust v. Heredia, 2012 WL 4747157, at *2
(N.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2012) (holding that the amount in
controversy requirement was not met even where the mortgage
was valued at over $75, 000)).
an anticipated federal defense or counterclaim is not
sufficient to confer jurisdiction. See Holmes Group v.
Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831
(2002); Franchise Tax Bd. of Ca. v. Constr. Laborers
Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 10 (1983). “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.” ARCO Envtl.
Remediation, LLC v. Dept. of Health and Envtl. Quality of the
State of Montana, 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir. 2000);
see also 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, any anticipated defense is not a valid ground for
removal. See e.g., Nguyen v. Bui, 2012 WL 762156, at
*2 (N.D. Cal. Feb. 21, 2012) (holding that affirmative
defenses based upon Federal Truth in Lending Act and Real
Estate Settlement Procedures Act do not confer federal
jurisdiction upon state unlawful detainer claim); Aurora
Loan Serv., LLC v. Martinez, 2010 WL 1266887, at * 1
(N.D. Cal. March 29, 2010) (answer asserting plaintiff
violated the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act does not
confer federal jurisdiction over unlawful detainer claim).
jurisdiction appears to be lacking, the hereby RECOMMENDS
that this case be remanded to Contra Costa County Superior
Court. The Clerk of Court shall reassign this case to a
district court judge.
to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, any party may serve
and file objections to this report and recommendation ...