United States District Court, E.D. California
KELLY KAY SANTUCCI, EXECUTER OF THE ESTATE OF LYNETTE KAY PATRAITIS, Plaintiffs,
TERRI JENSEN; and DOES 1-10, Defendants.
SUA SPONTE ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE
A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
undersigned revokes any actual or anticipated referral to a
Magistrate Judge for the purposes of Findings and
Recommendations in this case. See Local Rule 302(d)
("Notwithstanding any other provision of this Rule, a
Judge may retain any matter otherwise routinely referred to a
10, 2017, Defendant Terri Jensen filed a Notice of Removal
with this Court, seeking to remove an action from the
Superior Court for the County of Sacramento. Notice of
Removal, ECF No. 1. For the following reasons, the Court sua
sponte REMANDS this case to the Superior Court of California
for the County of Sacramento.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove an action to
federal court if the district court has original
jurisdiction. Hunter v. Phillip Morris USA, 582 F.3d
1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ansley v. Ameriquest
Mortg. Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003)). If 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). Generally, a defendant
seeking to remove an action to federal court must file a
notice of removal within thirty days of receiving a copy of
the initial pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The defendant
seeking removal of an action to federal court has the burden
of establishing federal jurisdiction in the case.
California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d
831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004).
is attempting to remove an unlawful detainer action based on
federal question subject matter jurisdiction. Notice of
Removal at 2. However, Defendant cannot establish
jurisdiction that is proper. Federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction and lack inherent or general subject
matter jurisdiction. Federal courts can adjudicate only those
cases authorized by the United States Constitution and
Congress. Generally, those cases involve diversity of
citizenship or a federal question, or cases in which the
United States is a party. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins.
Co., 511 U.S. 375 (1994); Finley v. United
States, 490 U.S. 545 (1989). Federal courts are
presumptively without jurisdiction over civil actions.
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Lack of subject matter
jurisdiction is never waived and may be raised by the Court
sua sponte. Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Prods.,
Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996). "Nothing
is to be more jealously guarded by a court than its
jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is what its power rests upon.
Without jurisdiction it is nothing." In re
Mooney, 841 F.2d 1003, 1006 (9th Cir. 1988).
the law is clear in the Ninth Circuit that the removal
statute should be strictly construed in favor of remand and
against removal. Harris v. Bankers Life and Cas.
Co., 425 F.3d 689, 698 (9th Cir. 2005). The "strong
presumption" against removal jurisdiction means that the
defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal
is proper. Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach &
Assocs., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990);
Emrich v. louche Ross & Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195
(9th Cir. 1988). Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if
there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first
instance. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566
(9th Cir. 1992).
case, Defendant is unable to establish subject matter
jurisdiction before this Court because the complaint filed in
the state court apparently contains a single cause of action
for unlawful detainer based on California Code of Civil
Procedure section 1161a. Unlawful detainer actions are
strictly within the province of state court. Defendants'
attempt at creating federal subject matter jurisdiction by
adding claims or defenses to a notice of removal will not
succeed. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 50
(2009) (federal question jurisdiction cannot "rest upon
an actual or anticipated counterclaim"); Valles v.
Ivy Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir. 2005)
("A federal law defense to a state-law claim does not
confer jurisdiction on a federal court, even if the defense
is that of federal preemption and is anticipated in the
determining the presence or absence of federal jurisdiction
in removal cases, the "well-pleaded complaint rule"
applies, "which provides that federal jurisdiction
exists only when a federal question is presented on the face
of the plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint."
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). Moreover, "it is well established that plaintiff
is the 'master of her complaint' and can plead to
avoid federal jurisdiction." Lowdermilk v. U.S. Bank
Nat 7 Ass 'n, 479 F.3d 994, 998-99 (9th
Cir. 2007); Metro. Life Ins. Co. v. Taylor, 481 U.S.
58, 63 (1987) (citing Gully v. First Nat'l Bank,
299 U.S. 109 (1936)) ("It is long settled law that a
cause of action arises under federal law only when the
plaintiffs well-pleaded complaint raises issues of federal
complaint raises a single state law claim. The face of a
properly-pled state law unlawful detainer action does not
present a federal question. Therefore, Plaintiffs complaint
avoids federal question jurisdiction. Defendant cannot inject
a federal issue through her answer.
the Court REMANDS this case to the Superior Court for the
County of ...