United States District Court, C.D. California
Property Mgmt. Associates
Maria S. Grain, et al.
Present: The Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER
HONORABLE PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court is in receipt of a Notice of Removal filed by defendant
Maria S. Grain (“Defendant”) on June 21, 2016.
(Docket No. 1.) In the Complaint, plaintiff Property
Management Associates (“Plaintiff”) alleges a
single state law claim for unlawful detainer. Defendant,
appearing pro se, asserts that this Court has
subject matter jurisdiction on the basis of a federal
question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
courts are of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter
jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution
and Congress. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675,
128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). A “strong presumption”
against removal jurisdiction exists. Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992). In seeking
removal, the defendant bears the burden of proving that
jurisdiction exists. Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d
925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986).
28 U.S.C. § 1331, this Court has original jurisdiction
over civil actions “arising under” federal law.
Removal based on § 1331 is governed by the
“well-pleaded complaint” rule. Caterpillar,
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425,
2429, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). Under the rule, “federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of plaintiff’s properly pleaded
complaint.” Id. at 392, 107 S.Ct. at 2429, 96
L.Ed.2d 318. If the complaint does not specify whether a
claim is based on federal or state law, it is a claim
“arising under” federal law only if it is
“clear” that it raises a federal question.
Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir.
1996). Thus, the plaintiff is generally the “master of
the claim.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392, 107
S.Ct. at 2429, 96 L.Ed.2d 318. “A case may not
be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal
defense, including the defense of pre-emption.”
Id. at 393, 107 S.Ct. at 2430, 96 L.Ed.2d 318
(emphasis in original). The only exception to this rule is
where plaintiff’s federal claim has been disguised by
“artful pleading, ” such as where the only claim
is a federal one or is a state claim preempted by federal
law. Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813
F.2d 1368, 1372 (9th Cir. 1987).
the underlying Complaint contains only a single cause of
action for unlawful detainer. Defendant alleges that removal
is proper because Plaintiff’s actions violate the
Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act (the
“PTFA”), 12 U.S.C. § 5220.
702(a) of the PTFA provides,
In the case of any foreclosure on . . . any dwelling or
residential real property . . . any immediate successor in
interest in such property pursuant to the foreclosure shall
assume such interest subject to–
(1) the provision, by such successor in interest of a notice
to vacate to any bona fide tenant at least 90 days before the
effective date of such notice; and
(2) the rights of any bona fide tenant, as of the date of
such notice of foreclosure –
(A) under any bona fide lease entered into before the notice
of foreclosure to occupy the premises until the end of the
remaining term of the lease, except that a successor in
interest may terminate a lease effective on the date of sale
of the unit to a purchaser who will occupy the unit as a
primary residence, subject to the receipt by the tenant of
the 90 day notice under paragraph (1); or
(B) without a lease or with a lease terminable at will under
State law, subject to the receipt by the tenant of the 90 day
notice under subsection (1), . . . .
successor in interest violates the provisions of the PTFA,
then a tenant may have a claim for the violation, but a
successor in interest in a foreclosed property does not eject
occupants by alleging a federal claim under the PTFA. Rather,
the PTFA merely provides terms with which the successor in
interest must comply. Accordingly, this action does not
“arise under” the PTFA. Moreover,
Defendant’s allegations concerning Plaintiff’s
potential violations of the PTFA do not constitute a proper
basis for removal, as neither a federal defense nor an actual
or anticipated federal counterclaim forms a basis for
removal. See, e.g., Vaden v. Discover Bank,
556 U.S. 49, 61-62, 129 S.Ct. 1262, 1272, 173 L.Ed.2d 206
addition, this appears to be the second time that Defendant
has filed a Notice of Removal for the same complaint.
Defendant’s first Notice of Removal was filed on May
31, 2016, and was assigned case number CV 16-3785 PA (ASx).
The Court remanded that case on June 6, 2016, because