United States District Court, C.D. California
PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER REMANDING
Present: The Honorable Philip S. Gutierrez, United States
20, 2016, Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.
(“Chase”) filed a notice of removal of a civil
action brought by Plaintiff Alvin Perkins for a violation of
California Civil Code § 2923.5, for declaratory relief,
and to quiet title. See Dkt. #1 (“NOR”).
After reviewing Chase’s notice of removal and the
underlying complaint, the Court finds that it lacks subject
matter jurisdiction over the case and sua sponte
REMANDS the case to state court for further proceedings.
See Moore v. Maricopa Cnty. Sheriff’s Office,
657 F.3d 890, 894 (9th Cir. 2011) (“The Court is
obligated to determine sua sponte whether it has
subject matter jurisdiction.”).
November 2005, Plaintiff, a citizen of California, financed
his residence (the “Property”) with a loan
obtained from Chase. NOR, Ex. A
(“Compl.”) ¶¶ 1, 3. Plaintiff executed
a promissory note and a deed of trust as security for the
note. Id. ¶¶ 3, 6. Defendant MTC Financial
Inc. (“MTC”) is the current trustee of the deed
of trust. Id. ¶¶ 2, 5. Chase concedes that
MTC “is a citizen of California.” NOR
alleges that Chase and MTC improperly initiated foreclosure
proceedings and thus violated California law by failing to
satisfy the due diligence requirement to notify Plaintiff of
their intent to foreclose. Compl. ¶¶ 7-13.
Plaintiff further alleges that, as a result, Plaintiff was
denied the opportunity to explore opportunities to avoid
foreclosure. Id. ¶ 14. At the time Plaintiff
filed the complaint on May 19, 2016, sale of the Property was
scheduled to take place on June 1, 2016. Id. ¶
10. Plaintiff seeks damages from Chase and MTC, as well as an
order quieting title. Id. ¶ 7. On June 20,
2016, Chase removed the case to this Court on the basis of
diversity jurisdiction. NOR 1-2.
state-court defendant may remove a case to federal court if
the case falls within the federal court’s original
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Because
“[f]ederal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction .
. . a federal court cannot reach the merits of any dispute
until it confirms its own subject matter jurisdiction.”
Lawson v. Wolfe, No. 3:13-CV-2248-GPC-DHB, 2013 WL
5418089, at *1 (S.D. Cal. Sept. 26, 2013). If at any time
before the entry of final judgment it appears that the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a case removed from
state court, the Court must remand the case to state court.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Int’l
Primate Prot. League v. Adm’rs of Tulane Educ.
Fund, 500 U.S. 72, 87 (1991); Levy v. BC Life &
Health Ins. Co., No. CV 09-01862 DDP MANX, 2009 WL
1515254, at *1 (C.D. Cal. June 1, 2009) (“Unless a
district court has subject matter jurisdiction, it is without
power to hear a suit, and a federal court may dismiss sua
sponte if jurisdiction is lacking.”). Generally,
subject matter jurisdiction is based on the presence of a
federal question, see 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or on
diversity of citizenship between parties, see 28
U.S.C. § 1332. Jurisdiction on the basis of diversity
exists when there is complete diversity between plaintiffs
and defendants, such that “each defendant is a
citizen of a different State from each
plaintiff.” Owen Equip. & Erection Co. v.
Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373 (1978). A removing defendant
“always has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.” Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th
argues that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction on the
basis of diversity of citizenship between parties.
NOR ¶ 4. Essential to its argument is the
assertion that MTC’s citizenship “should be
ignored for purposes of determining whether diversity of
citizenship exists amongst the parties.” Id.
¶ 10. Specifically, Chase contends that MTC is a nominal
defendant. Id. If true, this would render
MTC’s citizenship irrelevant to the diversity analysis
because the citizenship of “nominal parties with
nothing at stake may be disregarded” in determining
whether complete diversity exists. Strotek Corp. v. Air
Transp. Ass’n. of Am., 300 F.3d 1129, 1133 (9th
paradigmatic nominal defendant is ‘a trustee, agent, or
depository . . . [who is] joined purely as a means of
facilitating collection.’” S.E.C. v.
Colello, 139 F.3d 674, 676 (9th Cir. 1998) (internal
citation omitted). However, a trustee is not a nominal party
“where the complaint contains substantive allegations
against the trustee or seeks to recover money damages from
the trustee.” Jenkins v. Bank of Am., N.A.,
No. CV 14-04545 MMM JCX, 2015 WL 331114, at *10 (C.D. Cal.
Jan. 26, 2015) (internal quotation and citation omitted);
accord Raissian v. Quality Loan Serv. Corp., No. CV
14-07969 BRO AGRX, 2014 WL 6606802, at *4 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 19,
2014) (holding that a trustee alleged to have violated
California Civil Code § 2923.55 was not a nominal
claims that MTC, a trustee, “is not related to this
dispute or the foreclosure process in any way, except as mere
agent with no substantive allegations against it.”
NOR ¶ 8. Yet, Plaintiff brings multiple causes
of action against, and seeks damages from, “all
Defendants.” See Compl. Because Plaintiff
has made substantive allegations against all Defendants,
including MTC, the Court finds that MTC is not a nominal
party. See Nance v. Cal-Western Reconveyance Corp.,
No. LA CV14-07950 JAK PLAX, 2015 WL 452747, at *3-4 (C.D.
Cal. Jan. 29, 2015); Jenkins, 2015 WL 331114, at
*10-11; Daniels v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. CV
12-5289 PSG FMOX, 2012 WL 10649202, at *5 (C.D. Cal. Sept.
11, 2012); Osorio v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. C
12-02645 RS, 2012 WL 2054997, at *2 n.2 (N.D. Cal. June 5,
2012); Latino v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No.
2:11-CV-02037-MCE-DAD, 2011 WL 4928880, at *3 (E.D. Cal. Oct.
17, 2011); Silva v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. CV
11-3200 GAF JCGX, 2011 WL 2437514, at *5 (C.D. Cal. June 16,
2011); Carrillo v. ETS Servs., LLC, CV 10-09895 DMG
s26 JCX, 2011 WL 12873783, at *1-2 (C.D. Cal. Jan 28, 2011);
see also Thompson v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No.
CV 15-cv-04885-BLF, 2016 WL 2619695 (N.D. Cal. May 9, 2016)
(holding that a defendant trustee was not a nominal party for
purposes of removal); Monet v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., No. 16-CV-00372-LHK, 2016 WL 945980 (N.D. Cal.
Mar. 14, 2016) (same); Beiermann v. JPMorgan Chase Bank,
N.A., No. 3:11-cv-05952 RBL, 2012 WL 1377094 (W.D. Wash.
Apr. 19, 2012) (same).
Chase contends that, as the removing Defendant, it is not
required to obtain consent for removal from MTC because MTC
“has not appeared on the state court docket and there
is no indication of service” on MTC. NOR
¶ 10. Yet, Chase states in the same document that MTC
“was served with the Summons and Complaint on May 23,
2016.” Id. ¶ 3. These contradictory
statements fail to establish Chase’s allegation that
MTC is a nominal party because it was not served.
the Court finds that MTC is not a nominal party at this time.
As a result, MTC’s citizenship is relevant to the
diversity analysis. Because Plaintiff and MTC are citizens of
California, complete diversity does not exist and Chase has
failed to satisfy its ...