United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER REMANDING CASE TO STATE COURT FOR LACK OF
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION RE: DKT. NO. 11
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge
December 20, 2016, Defendants Lani McPhearson and Liu Taniela
(also known as Taniela Liu) removed this case from the
California Superior Court for the County of Alameda. Dkt. No.
1. Having reviewed their notice of removal and
Plaintiff's motion to remand, Dkt. No. 11-1, the Court
finds that it does not have subject matter jurisdiction over
this action and accordingly REMANDS the case to state court.
AMC, LLC is the owner of the real property located at 21701
Foothill Blvd., apartment #272, Hayward, California, in
Alameda County (the “Property”). Dkt. No. 1, Ex.
A at 2. Defendants have rented the Property since August 1,
2016, under a 12-month lease agreement (the
“Agreement”). Id. at 3. Under the terms
of the Agreement, Defendants were required to pay Plaintiff
the sum of $1, 865.00 per month on the first day of each
month. Id. In early October, 2016, Defendants fell
one month behind in rent. Id. On October 5, 2016,
Plaintiff served Defendants with a written notice to pay
Plaintiff the rent owed or to quit the Property within three
days. Id. As of October 24, 2016, Defendants had not
complied with the notice. Id. at 4. According to the
underlying complaint, Plaintiff now seeks possession of the
Property, damages for unpaid rental income, damages for the
reasonable rental value of the Property, and attorneys'
fees and costs, in accordance with California Code of Civil
Procedure § 1161. Id. Plaintiff filed a motion to
remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction on February 9,
2017, which Defendants did not oppose. See Dkt. No.
case is removed to federal court, the Court has an
independent obligation to satisfy itself that it has federal
subject matter jurisdiction. Valdez v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1116 (9th Cir. 2004). A case removed
to federal court must be remanded back to state court
“if at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.”
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
to federal court is only proper where the federal court would
have original subject matter jurisdiction over the complaint.
28 U.S.C. § 1441. As courts of limited jurisdiction,
federal courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions
(1) “arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties
of the United States, ” 28 U.S.C. § 1331; or (2)
involving parties with complete diversity of citizenship and
an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332. A case only “arises under” federal
law if “‘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.'” Proctor v. Vishay Intertechnology
Inc., 584 F.3d 1208, 1219 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Empire Healthchoice Assurance, Inc. v. McVeigh, 547
U.S. 677, 689-90 (2006)). Pursuant to the “well-pleaded
complaint” rule, “the federal question on which
jurisdiction is premised cannot be supplied via a defense;
rather, the federal question must ‘be disclosed upon
the face of the complaint, unaided by the answer.'”
Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome,
Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1086 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting
Phillips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco, Inc., 415 U.S.
125, 127-28 (1974)).
fail to show that removal is proper based on any federal law.
Plaintiff's complaint is grounded in California state
law. The complaint asserts only a single cause of action for
unlawful detainer. In their answer and notice of removal,
Defendants stated that Plaintiff filed the notice to quit or
the complaint to retaliate, which arbitrarily discriminated
against Defendants in violation of the Constitution or the
laws of the United States of America or California.
See Dkt. No. 1, Ex. A at 6. Yet allegations in an
answer or removal notice cannot provide this Court with
federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiffs complaint does not
allege any federal claims whatsoever.Accordingly, the Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction.
the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it REMANDS the
case to the California Superior Court for the County of
Alameda, case no. HG-16836376. The Clerk is directed to
return the case to the state court and to close the federal
 While the complaint does not specify
that Plaintiff intended to bring this action under California
Code of Civil Procedure § 1161, Plaintiff's motion
to remand states that the case was brought under § 1161,
Dkt. No. 11-1 at 1-2, and Defendants reference § 1161 in
their notice of removal, Dkt. No. 1 ...