United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT
WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
removed unlawful detainer action, plaintiff moves to remand
the action to state court. For the reasons stated herein,
plaintiffs’ motion to remand is Granted.
Ed Wasniowski and Justin Roberts brought an action for
unlawful detainer in Contra Costa Superior Court against
defendant Jeannine Davila in June 2016. Plaintiffs’
sole claim was for unlawful detainer under state law to
obtain possession of a recently foreclosed residential real
property at 51 Freemark Court, Oakley, CA 94561. Plaintiffs
came into possession of this property through a trustee sale.
The complaint alleges that defendant owes plaintiffs: (1)
restitution, (2) damages at the rate of $70 per day from
January 24, 2016, for each day that defendant continues in
possession of the property, and (3) costs herein,
attorney’s fees, and further relief as is proper.
adult children, Nico, Alec, and Celine Davila, are interested
parties who live with and pay rent to their mother at 51
Freemark Court. Defendant’s children never sought leave
to intervene pursuant to Section 387 of the California Code
of Civil Procedure, so the state court never granted
intervention. Nevertheless, with defendant’s consent,
her adult children lodged a notice of removal and a motion to
proceed in forma pauperis in federal district court
in an attempt to remove the action to federal court.
notice of removal, defendant’s adult children argued
that removal was proper based on federal-question
jurisdiction because the unlawful detainer violated their
rights under the United States Constitution and the Fair
Credit Reporting Act. According to them, the alleged federal
rights violations stemmed from the following language in the
three-day notice to quit issued during the eviction
proceeding: “[I]f you do not respond within five (5)
days of receiving the [unlawful detainer] papers, even if you
are not named in the papers, you will likely lose any rights
you may have. In some cases, you can respond without hurting
your credit” (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 2-3).
days after receiving this notice of removal, plaintiffs moved
to remand the action to state court. Defendant’s
opposition to remand followed. In the opposition, rather than
explain how the language in the three-day notice to quit was
unconstitutional, defendant raised a new argument that the
state statute governing the three-day notice to quit is
discriminatory against Hispanics.
5, 2016, defendant filed a counterclaim and third-party
complaint against various state court officials with whom
defendant interacted during the course of the unlawful
detainer proceedings. The counterclaim alleges various
constitutional violations, stating that plaintiffs in the
unlawful detainer action and various state court officials
treated defendant and her adult children differently because
they are Hispanic. Finally, on July 11, defendant and her
adult children filed a motion for a TRO (which requires
subject-matter jurisdiction) against plaintiffs to halt the
eviction. This order addresses the motion to remand and
follows full briefing and oral argument.
Removal Under 28 U.S.C. 1441(a).
defendant may remove a civil action from state court to
federal court if original jurisdiction would have existed at
the time the complaint was filed. 28 U.S.C. 1441(a). The
strong presumption against removal jurisdiction means that
the defendant bears the burden of establishing proper
removal. Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039,
1042 (9th Cir. 2009).
the “well-pleaded complaint” rule,
federal-question jurisdiction exists only where the federal
question appears on the face of the complaint. Duncan v.
Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996). Thus, the
relevant inquiry for making this jurisdictional determination
is to examine the specific claims made by plaintiff and
decide if they are under federal or state law. Indeed,
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. 1331, “must be determined
from what necessarily appears in the plaintiff’s
statement of his own claim in the bill or declaration.”
Aetna Health Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 207
(2004). More importantly for this motion, the
“well-pleaded complaint” rule does not allow a
defense or counterclaim to confer jurisdiction.
Holmes Grp., Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys.,
Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831-32 (2002).
move to remand on the grounds that their complaint for
unlawful detainer contains no basis for the exercise of
federal-question jurisdiction and that defendant’s
federal defense does not provide a basis ...