United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable Fernando M. Olguin, United States
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(In Chambers) Order Remanding Action
February 24, 2017, 1197 West 39th Street, LLC
(“plaintiff”) filed the operative Second Amended
Complaint (“SAC”) in the Los Angeles County
Superior Court against Seterus, Inc. (“Seterus”)
and the Federal National Mortgage Association, Inc.
(“Fannie Mae”) (collectively,
“defendants”), asserting state-law claims for:
(1) declaratory relief; and (2) violation of California Civil
Code § 2943. (See Dkt. 1, Notice of Removal of
Action (“NOR”) at 3; Dkt. 1-9, SAC at
¶¶ 1-48). The instant action arises out of
plaintiff's purchase of real property and its efforts to
obtain information about the loan from defendants.
(See Dkt. 1-9, SAC at ¶¶ 4-48). On March
8, 2017, defendants removed the instant action on federal
question jurisdiction grounds pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331 and 1441. (See Dkt. 1, NOR at
¶ 3). On March 31, 2017, plaintiff filed a Motion to
Remand to State Court and for an Award of Attorney's Fees
(Dkt. 14, “Motion”). Having reviewed the
pleadings and the briefing with respect to the Motion, the
court hereby remands this action to state court for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute[.]”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675 (1994). The courts are
presumed to lack jurisdiction unless the contrary appears
affirmatively from the record. See DaimlerChrysler Corp.
v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n. 3, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 1861
(2006). Federal courts have a duty to examine jurisdiction
sua sponte before proceeding to the merits of a
case, see Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S.
574, 583, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 1569 (1999), “even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v.
Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 1244
right of removal is entirely a creature of statute and a suit
commenced in a state court must remain there until cause is
shown for its transfer under some act of Congress.”
Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S.
28, 32, 123 S.Ct. 366, 369 (2002) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Where Congress has acted to create a right of
removal, those statutes, unless otherwise stated, are
strictly construed against removal
jurisdiction. See id. Unless otherwise
expressly provided by Congress, “any civil action
brought in a State court of which the district courts of the
United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or the defendants, to the district
court[.]” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see Dennis v. H
a r t, 724 F.3d 1249, 1252 (9th Cir. 2013) (same). A
removing defendant bears the burden of establishing that
removal is proper. See Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem.
Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006) (per
curiam) (noting the “longstanding, near-canonical
rule that the burden on removal rests with the removing
defendant”); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d
564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (“The strong presumption
against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always
has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.”) (internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover,
if there is any doubt regarding the existence of subject
matter jurisdiction, the court must resolve those doubts in
favor of remanding the action to state court. See
Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (“Federal jurisdiction must
be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal
in the first instance.”).
the plain terms of § 1441(a), in order properly to
remove [an] action pursuant to that provision, [the removing
defendant] must demonstrate that original subject-matter
jurisdiction lies in the federal courts.” Syngenta
Crop Protection, 537 U.S. at 33, 123 S.Ct. at 370.
Failure to do so requires that the case be remanded, as
“[s]ubject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, and.
. . the district court must remand if it lacks
jurisdiction.” Kelton Arms Condo. Owners Ass'n,
Inc. v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th
Cir. 2003). Indeed, “[i]f at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c); see Emrich v. Touche Ross &
Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1194 n. 2 (9th Cir. 1988) (“It
is elementary that the subject matter jurisdiction of the
district court is not a waivable matter and may be raised at
anytime by one of the parties, by motion or in the responsive
pleadings, or sua sponte by the trial or reviewing
court.”); Washington v. United Parcel Serv.,
Inc., 2009 WL 1519894, *1 (C.D. Cal. 2009) (a district
court may remand an action where the court finds that it
lacks subject matter jurisdiction either by motion or sua
purposes of removal based on federal question jurisdiction,
the well-pleaded complaint rule “provides that federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Smallwood v. Allied Van Lines,
Inc., 660 F.3d 1115, 1120 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107
S.Ct. 2425, 2429 (1987)). “As the master of the
complaint, a plaintiff may defeat removal by choosing not to
plead independent federal claims.” ARCO Envt'l
Remediation, L.L.C. v. Dep't of Health & Envt'l
Quality of Montana, 213 F.3d 1108, 1114 (9th Cir. 2000).
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION.
on the court's review of the NOR and the briefing on the
Motion, the court finds that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the instant matter. In other words,
plaintiff could not have originally brought this action in
federal court, in that plaintiff does not competently allege
facts supplying federal question jurisdiction, and therefore
removal was improper. See 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a); Caterpillar Inc., 482 U.S. at
392, 107 S.Ct. at 2429 (“Only state-court actions that
originally could have been filed in federal court may be
removed to federal court by the defendant.”) (footnote
asserts only two state-law claims, including one pursuant to
California Civil Code § 2943 (“§ 2943"),
which requires a beneficiary to provide a copy of the note
and other information within 21 days of receipt of a written
demand. See Cal. Civ. Code § 2943(b); (see
also Dkt. 1-9, SAC at ¶ 32) (alleging that Fannie
Mae, as holder of the Deed of Trust, was required to provide
information within 21 days of demand). Defendants, however,
assert that federal question jurisdiction exists because the
SAC also asserts a claim under the Real Estate Settlement
Procedures Act (“RESPA”), 12 U.S.C. §§
2601, et. seq. (See Dkt. 1, NOR at ¶
3; see also Dkt. 20, [Defendants'] Opposition to
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Action to State Court and
Request for Attorney's Fees (“Opp.”) at 4-5).
According to defendants, plaintiff asserted a RESPA claim
when it alleged that Fannie Mae's conduct violated §
2943, and that its “actions (and omissions) also
constitute a violation of [RESPA].” (See Dkt.
1, NOR at ¶ 3 (citing Dkt. 1-9, SAC at ¶ 39); Dkt.
20, Opp. at 5). However, such a fleeting reference to RESPA
buried in a cause of action under § 2943 is insufficient
to confer federal question jurisdiction. Federal law,
specifically, RESPA, does not create the cause of action; nor
does plaintiff's right to relief depend on its
resolution.See, e.g., Franchise
Tax Bd. of the State of California v. Construction Laborers
Vacation Trust for Southern California, 463 U.S. 1,
27-28, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 2856 (1983), superseded by statute
on other grounds, as recognized in DB
Healthcare, LLC v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona,
Inc., 2017 WL 1075050, *4 (9th Cir. 2017)
(“Congress has given the lower federal courts
jurisdiction to hear, originally or by removal from state
court, only those cases in which a well-pleaded complaint
establishes either that federal law creates the cause of
action or that the plaintiff's right to relief
necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question
of federal law.”).
short, given that any doubt regarding the existence of
subject matter jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of
remanding the action to state court, see Gaus, 980
F.2d at 566, the court is not persuaded, under the
circumstances here, that defendants have met their burden.