United States District Court, E.D. California
MORRISON C. ENGLAND UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
14, 2016, Defendants Carolyn and Malinda Almeida, proceeding
pro se, filed a Notice of Removal of this unlawful detainer
action from the Siskiyou County Superior Court. ECF No. 1. This
Court has an independent duty to ascertain its jurisdiction
and may remand sua sponte for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
“The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on
the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is
strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.”
Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195
(9th Cir. 1988) (internal citation omitted). “Federal
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). As
explained below, Defendant has failed to meet that burden.
Notice of Removal is premised on the argument that this Court
has federal jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
ECF No. 1 at 2. However, a review of the Complaint reveals
that Plaintiff does not allege any federal claims; instead,
Plaintiff alleges only unlawful detainer under state law. ECF
No. 1 at 6.
presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is
governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule, ’
which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a
federal question is presented on the fact of
plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). This is the case where the complaint
“establishes either that  federal law creates the
cause of action or that  the plaintiff’s right to
relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial
question of federal law.” Williston Basin
Interstate Pipeline Co. v. An Exclusive Gas Storage Leasehold
& Easement, 524 F.3d 1090, 1100 (9th Cir. 2008)
(quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation
Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983)).
Plaintiff’s one cause of action is for unlawful
detainer under state law. At most, Defendants argue that they
have a defense under federal law. “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, and even if both parties admit
that the defense is the only question truly at issue in the
case.” ARCO Envtl. Remediation, LLC v. Dep’t.
of Health & Envtl. Quality of the State of Montana,
213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir. 2000) (citation and quotation
marks omitted). Therefore, this Court lacks jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
action is REMANDED to the Siskiyou County Superior Court.
Clerk of Court is directed to serve a certified copy of the
order on the Clerk of the Siskiyou County Superior Court, and
reference the state case number (No. S.C. CV F116-00411) in
the proof of service.
Defendants’ Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis (ECF
Nos. 2 and 3) are DENIED as moot.
Clerk of Court is directed to close this case and vacate all
Clerk of the Court is ordered not to open another case
removing the following unlawful detainer action: No. S.C. CV