United States District Court, E.D. California
SUA SPONTE REMAND ORDER
L. Nunley, United States District Judge
matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendants Danyel
Duckett and Chantail Shoots’ (“Defendants”)
Notice of Removal and Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis.
(ECF Nos. 1-3.) For the reasons set forth below,
Defendants’ Motions to Proceed in Forma Pauperis are
GRANTED. The Court hereby remands the action to the Superior
Court of California, County of Sacramento, due to lack of
FACTUAL BACKGROUND AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
about July 13, 2016, Plaintiff Vimala Patel brought an action
against Defendants in the Superior Court of California,
County of Sacramento for possession of the real property
known as 4331 Stockton Boulevard, Unit 45, Sacramento, CA
(“the Property”). (Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1
at 11.) The Complaint alleges that Defendants entered into a
lease with Plaintiff on or about October 3, 2015 to pay rent
in the amount of $1, 000.00 per month. (ECF No. 1 at 11.)
asserts that Defendants were provided 3-day notice to pay
rent or quit possession of the property, but Defendants
failed to do so. (ECF No. 1 at 12.) On August 2, 2016,
Defendants filed a Notice of Removal, removing this unlawful
detainer action from the Sacramento County Superior Court.
(ECF No. 1.)
STANDARD OF LAW
U.S.C. § 1441 permits the removal to federal court of
any civil action over which “the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). “Removal is proper only if the court
could have exercised jurisdiction over the action had it
originally been filed in federal court.”
Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
“strictly construe the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction, ” and “the defendant always has the
burden of establishing that removal is proper.”
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
1992) (per curiam). Furthermore, “[i]f the district
court at any time determines that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the removed action, it must remedy the
improvident grant of removal by remanding the action to state
court.” California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy,
Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838, as amended, 387 F.3d 966 (9th
Cir. 2004), cert. denied 544 U.S. 974 (2005).
“presence or absence of federal question jurisdiction
is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule,
’ which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only
when a federal question is presented on the face of the
plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 386. Removal cannot be
based on a defense, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third party
claim raising a federal question, whether filed in state
court or federal court. See Vaden v. Discover Bank,
556 U.S. 49 (2009); Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582
F.3d 1039, 1042-43 (9th Cir. 2009).
removed this case to this Court on the basis of federal
question jurisdiction. Defendants argue that the Protecting
Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009 (“PTFA”) gives
rise to a federal question by identifying two ways in which
the statute is drawn into controversy in the instant case.
state that Plaintiff’s claim is based upon a notice
which, by nature of the action, incorporates the Protecting
Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009, 12 U.S.C. §§
5220. (ECF No. 1 at ¶ 8.) However, the Complaint itself
contains only a single claim for unlawful detainer. (ECF No.
1 at 9-10.) Under the well-pleaded complaint rule,
“federal [question] jurisdiction exists only when a
federal question is presented on the face of the
plaintiff’s properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 386. The instant Complaint
relies solely on California state law and does not mention
expressly or impliedly 12 U.S.C. §§ 5201, et. seq.
The Complaint does not state claims under the PTFA or any
other federal law. The well-pleaded complaint rule makes the
plaintiff the master of his claim, so he may avoid federal
jurisdiction by basing his claim exclusively on state law, as
is the case here. Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392.
seems Defendants mean to assert subject matter jurisdiction
by alleging Plaintiff violated the PTFA. However, removal
cannot be based on a defense, counterclaim, cross-claim, or
third party claim raising a federal question, whether filed
in state court or federal court. See Vaden, 556 U.S.
at 49; Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d at
1042-43. While Defendants contend in the notice of removal
that Plaintiff has violated a federal law, this assertion
relates only to an affirmative defense or potential
counterclaim, which is not considered in evaluating whether a
federal question appears on the face of a plaintiff’s
complaint. See Vaden, 556 U.S. at 60-62. “[A]
counterclaim - which appears as part of the defendant’s
answer, not as part of the plaintiff’s complaint -
cannot serve as the basis for ‘arising under’
jurisdiction.” Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air
Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831 (2002).
summary, the state court Complaint indicates that the only
cause of action is one for unlawful detainer, which arises
solely under state law and not under federal law. Thus, this
action does not arise under federal law and no other grounds
for federal jurisdiction are apparent. Therefore, it is
appropriate to remand this case, sua sponte, for
lack of federal jurisdiction. See United Investors Life
Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967
(9th Cir. 2004) (“the district court ha[s] a duty ...