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Parkside Commons Apartments v. Johnson

United States District Court, N.D. California, San Francisco Division

June 30, 2016

PARKSIDE COMMONS APARTMENTS, Plaintiff,
v.
BENITO JOHNSON, et al., Defendants.

          Parkside Commons Apartments, Plaintiff, represented by Kevin A. Harris, Harris Rosales & Harris & Scott Michael Harris, Harris, Rosales & Harris.

          Benito F. Johnson, Defendant, Pro Se.

          Gerald D. Warren, Defendant, Pro Se.

          ORDER DIRECTING REASSIGNMENT; REPORT & RECOMMENDATION TO REMAND [Re: ECF No. 1].

          LAUREL BEELER, Magistrate Judge.

         OVERVIEW

         The plaintiff landlord filed an unlawful-detainer case against the defendants in the Superior Court of California, County of Alameda, on March 17, 2016. (ECF No. 1 at 6-8.[1]) The tenant defendants removed the action from state court, asserting federal-question jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1 at 1-3.) The undersigned gave the parties until June 27, 2016 to consent to or decline magistrate jurisdiction. (ECF No. 10.) No party has consented. ( See generally Docket.)

         This case is before the court for a sua sponte review under 28 U.S.C. § 1915. Because the unlawful-detainer complaint presents only a state claim on its face, and because the requirements for diversity jurisdiction are not met, the court finds no basis for federal jurisdiction. ( See ECF No. 1 at 6-10.) The court accordingly directs the clerk of court to reassign this case to a district judge, and recommends that the newly assigned district judge remand the case back to the California state court from which it was removed.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Sua sponte jurisdictional screening

         Both defendants are pro se and are proceeding in forma pauperis. (ECF No. 3, 4.) A complaint filed by any person proceeding in forma pauperis under 28 U.S.C. § 1915(a) is subject to a mandatory and sua sponte review and dismissal by the court to the extent that it is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted, or seeks monetary relief from a defendant who is immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2)(B); Calhoun v. Stahl, 254 F.3d 845, 845 (9th Cir. 2001); Lopez v. Smith, 203 F.3d 1122, 1126-27 (9th Cir. 2000) (en banc). Furthermore, federal courts have a duty to examine their subject-matter jurisdiction whether or not the parties raise the issue. See United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed, Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 966 (9th Cir. 2004) ("[A] district court's duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction is not contingent upon the parties' arguments.") (citing Mitchell v. Maurer, 293 U.S. 237, 244 (1934)); Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Prods., Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996) (lack of subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised at any time by either party or by the court sua sponte ); Thiara v. Kiernan, 2006 WL 3065568, *2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 25, 2006) ("A district court has an independent obligation to examine whether removal jurisdiction exists before deciding any issue on the merits.")

         Where a case has been removed, the court may remand for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction at any time before final judgment. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) ("If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded."). "The court may - indeed must - remand an action sua sponte if it determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction." Canterbury Lots 68, LLC v. De La Torre, 2013 WL 781974, *1 (C.D. Cal. Feb. 28, 2013) (citing Kelton Arms Condo. Owners Ass'n v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003) ("[T]he district court must remand if it lacks jurisdiction.")). For the reasons given below, the court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction and this action must be remanded to the Superior Court of Alameda County.

         2. Discussion

         2.1 Diversity jurisdiction

         The removing defendants do not claim that this case exhibits diversity jurisdiction. (ECF No. 1 at 1-3.) The civil cover sheet that they filed upon removing the case to this court does not give the parties' citizenship and does not indicate the amount in controversy. (ECF No. 1-1.) The disputed sum in the state-court complaint is $3, 605.91, and "does not exceed $10, 000." (ECF No. 1 at 6, 8.) From the addresses that appear on their filings, the defendants reside in ...


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