United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD, U.S. District
ORDER RE: MOTION TO REMAND AND MOTION TO
Honorable MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD, U.S. District Judge
motions are before the Court. The first motion is Plaintiff
Maurice Sweiss’s Motion to Remand, filed on June 22,
2016. (Docket No. 9). Defendants submitted an Opposition to
the Motion to Remand on July 5, 2016, and Mr. Sweiss’s
Reply followed on July 20, 2016. (Docket Nos. 15, 20). The
second motion is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, filed
on June 15, 2016. (Docket No. 6). Mr. Sweiss filed an
Opposition to the Motion to Dismiss on July 20, 2016, and
Defendants did not submit a Reply. The Court reviewed and
considered the papers on the Motions, and now rules as
Motion to Remand is DENIED. The Court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action because the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000 and all non-nominal parties are
completely diverse. Although both Mr. Sweiss and Defendant
Robert E. Weiss, Inc. (“REW”) are domiciled in
California, Defendant REW’s citizenship may be
disregarded because it was a nominal party at the time the
action was removed to this Court.
Motion to Dismiss is DENIED as moot in light of Mr.
Sweiss’s apparent intent to amend the Complaint.
Although Mr. Sweiss asserts that he has already filed a First
Amended Complaint (“FAC”), the FAC does not
appear on the Court’s docket. Accordingly, Mr. Sweiss
shall file the FAC on or before August 8, 2016.
to Remand On April 6, 2016, Mr. Sweiss, appearing pro
se, initiated this action against Defendants T.C.
Investments, Valstone Asset Management, and REW in the
Ventura Superior Court. (See Notice of Removal, Ex.
1 (“Complaint”) (Docket No. 1)). Mr. Sweiss
alleges, among other things, that Defendants improperly
initiated foreclosure proceedings against his residence.
(Id. ¶¶ 10-11). Mr. Sweiss asserts a total
of nine claims for relief under California law. (Id.
25, 2016, Defendants removed the action to this Court.
According to Defendants, this Court has diversity
jurisdiction over this action despite the fact that both Mr.
Sweiss and Defendant REW are domiciled in California. (Notice
of Removal at 2). Defendants urge the Court to disregard the
citizenship of Defendant REW because it is a foreclosure
trustee and thus a nominal party. (Id.). Mr. Sweiss
now seeks to remand the action back to state court for lack
of complete diversity. (Motion to Remand at 4-5).
Civil Code section 2924l governs the litigation
status of foreclosure trustees named as defendants in
foreclosure actions. Under section 2924l, a trustee
that “maintains a reasonable belief that it has been
named in the action or proceeding solely in its capacity as
trustee . . . then, at any time, the trustee may file a
declaration of nonmonetary status.” Cal. Civ. Code
§ 2924l(a). If no parties object to the
declaration of nonmonetary status within fifteen days, the
[S]hall not be required to participate any further in the
action or proceeding, shall not be subject to any monetary
awards as and for damages, attorneys’ fees or costs,
shall be required to respond to any discovery requests as a
nonparty, and shall be bound by any court order relating to
the subject deed of trust that is the subject of the action
Id. § 2924l(d).
5, 2016, Defendant REW filed a declaration of nonmonetary
status in the Superior Court. (Notice of Removal, Ex. 2). The
principal of Defendant REW declared under a penalty of
perjury that Defendant REW “maintains a reasonable
belief that it has been named as a defendant in the
above-captioned action or proceeding solely in its capacity
as a foreclosure trustee under said Deeds of Trust and that
Plaintiff does not assert any valid claims for monetary
relief against Defendant [REW].” (Id., Ex.
¶ 5). Mr. Sweiss never objected to the declaration.
(Id. ¶ 7).
district courts uniformly recognize that a foreclosure
trustee’s citizenship must be disregarded when the
plaintiff does not object to the declaration of nonmonetary
status. See, e.g., Silva v. Wells Fargo Bank NA, No.
CV 11-3200 GAF JCGX, 2011 WL 2437514, at *4 (C.D. Cal. June
16, 2011) (“[D]efendants who file a declaration of
non-monetary status to which plaintiffs do not object are
merely nominal parties whose citizenship does not count for
diversity jurisdiction purposes.”); Rivera v.
Aurora Loan Services LLC, No. 09-CV-2686-BTM-RBB, 2010
WL 1709376, at *2 (S.D. Cal., Apr. 26, 2010) (“The
Court notes at the outset that it has jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b) to hear this matter. Although Defendant
Cal- Western Reconveyance Corporation is, like Plaintiffs, a
California citizen, it has non-monetary status and its
citizenship is therefore disregarded for purposes of
diversity jurisdiction.”); Figueiredo v. Aurora
Loan, No. C 09-4784 PJH, 2009 WL 5184472, at *1 (N.D.
Cal. Dec. 22, 2009) (“However, the filing of
Cal-Western's declaration of non-monetary status in state
court on October 6 transformed Cal-Western into a nominal
party whose citizenship is disregarded for purposes of
assessing diversity jurisdiction.”). As a result,
Defendant REW was a nominal party at the time of removal, and
its citizenship must be therefore disregarded.
Sweiss claims that he did not intend to sue Defendant REW
solely in its role as the foreclosure trustee. (Motion to
Remand at 3). Rather, according to Mr. Sweiss, Defendant REW
is liable for misconduct independent of the actions it took
as trustee. (Id.). Mr. Sweiss seeks to amend the
Complaint to make these allegations clearer. (Id.).
Mr. Sweiss’s arguments as true, the fact remains that
California law confers a nominal status on any foreclosure
trustee, which Defendant REW undoubtedly is, that files an
unchallenged declaration of nonmonetary status under section
2924l. If Mr. Sweiss truly believed that actionable
claims could be asserted against Defendant REW, he should
have objected to Defendant REW’s declaration. But Mr.
Sweiss did not object, and Defendant REW became a nominal
party fifteen days after the filing of the declaration.
Because Defendant REW remains a nominal party to this day,
its citizenship may be disregarded for jurisdictional