United States District Court, E.D. California
SUA SPONTE ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE
A. Mendez, United States District Judge
undersigned revokes any actual or anticipated referral to a
Magistrate Judge for the purposes of Findings and
Recommendations in this case. See Local Rule 302(d)
("Notwithstanding any other provision of this Rule, a
Judge may retain any matter otherwise routinely referred to a
28, 2016, Defendant Shar'on Johnson filed a Notice of
Removal with this Court, seeking to remove an action from the
Superior Court for the County of San Joaquin. Doc. 1. For the
following reasons, the Court sua sponte REMANDS this case to
the Superior Court of California for the County of San
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove an action to
federal court if the district court has original
jurisdiction. Hunter v. Phillip Morris USA, 582 F.3d
1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ansley v. Ameriquest
Mortg. Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003)). If at
any time before final judgment it appears that the district
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Generally, a defendant
seeking to remove an action to federal court must file a
notice of removal within thirty days of receiving a copy of
the initial pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The defendant
seeking removal of an action to federal court has the burden
of establishing federal jurisdiction in the case.
California ex rel Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d
831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004).
is attempting to remove an unlawful detainer action based on
federal question subject matter jurisdiction. Doc. 1.
However, Defendant cannot establish jurisdiction that is
proper. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and
lack inherent or general subject matter jurisdiction. Federal
courts can adjudicate only those cases authorized by the
United States Constitution and Congress. Generally, those
cases involve diversity of citizenship or a federal question,
or cases in which the United States is a party. Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375 (1994);
Finley v. United States, 490 U.S. 545
(1989). Federal courts are presumptively without jurisdiction
over civil actions. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Lack
of subject matter jurisdiction is never waived and may be
raised by the Court sua sponte. Attorneys Trust v.
Videotape Computer Prods., Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95
(9th Cir. 1996). "Nothing is to be more jealously
guarded by a court than its jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is
what its power rests upon. Without jurisdiction it is
nothing." In re Mooney, 841 F.2d 1003, 1006
(9th Cir. 1988).
the law is clear in the Ninth Circuit that the removal
statute should be strictly construed in favor of remand and
against removal. Harris v. Bankers Life and Cas.
Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The "strong
presumption" against removal jurisdiction means that the
defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal
is proper. Nishimoto v, Federman-Bachrach &
Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990);
Emrich v. Touche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d
1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). 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).
case, Defendant is unable to establish subject matter
jurisdiction before this Court because the complaint filed in
the state court apparently contains a single cause of action
for unlawful detainer based on California Code of Civil
Procedure section 1161a. Unlawful detainer actions are
strictly within the province of state court. Defendants'
attempt at creating federal subject matter jurisdiction by
adding claims or defenses to a notice of removal will not
succeed. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S.
49, 50 (2009) (federal question jurisdiction cannot
"rest upon an actual or anticipated counterclaim");
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 plaintiffs complaint.").
determining the presence or absence of federal jurisdiction
in removal cases, the "well-pleaded complaint rule"
applies, "which provides that federal jurisdiction
exists only when a federal question is presented on the face
of the plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint."
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386,
392 (1987). Moreover, "it is well established that
plaintiff is the 'master of her complaint' and can
plead to avoid federal jurisdiction." Lowdermilk v.
U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass 'n, 479 F.3d 994, 998-99
(9th Cir. 2007); Metro. Life Ins. Co. v.
Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63 (1987) (citing Gully
v. First Nat'l Bank, 299 U.S. 109 (1936))
("It is long settled law that a cause of action arises
under federal law only when the plaintiffs well-pleaded
complaint raises issues of federal law.").
complaint raises a single state law claim. The face of a
properly-pled state law unlawful detainer action does not
present a federal question. Therefore, Plaintiffs complaint
avoids federal question jurisdiction. Defendant cannot inject
a federal issue through their answer.
the Court REMANDS this case to the Superior Court for the
County of San ...