United States District Court, C.D. California
ORDER REMANDING ACTION AND DENYING APPLICATION TO
PROCEED WITHOUT PREPAYING FEES OR COSTS
M. GEE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Nicolas Orihuela and Agustin Orihuela
(“Plaintiffs”) filed an unlawful detainer action
in Los Angeles County Superior Court against Defendants
Raafat Abu Sumaia and Sara Franco on April 14, 2017. Notice
of Removal (“Removal”) and Attached Complaint for
Unlawful Detainer (“Compl.”) and Answer. Dkt. No.
1. Defendants are allegedly holdover tenants of real property
located in South Gate, California (“the
property”). Compl., ¶¶ 1, 3, 6-7. Plaintiffs
are the owners of the property. Id. at ¶¶
Raafat Abu Sumaia (“Defendant”) filed a Notice of
Removal on May 16, 2017, invoking the Court's federal
question jurisdiction on the basis of a violation of The
Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act of 2009
(“PTFA”), 12 U.S.C. § 5220. Removal at 2.
The same day, Defendant filed an application to proceed
without prepaying fees or costs. Dkt. No. 3.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject
matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the
Constitution and statute. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128
L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). It is this Court's duty always to
examine its own subject matter jurisdiction, see Arbaugh
v. Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 163
L.Ed.2d 1097 (2006), and the Court may remand a case
summarily if there is an obvious jurisdictional issue.
Cf. Scholastic Entm't, Inc. v. Fox Entm't Grp.,
Inc., 336 F.3d 982, 985 (9th Cir. 2003) (“While a
party is entitled to notice and an opportunity to respond
when a court contemplates dismissing a claim on the merits,
it is not so when the dismissal is for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction.”) (omitting internal citations). A
defendant attempting to remove an action from state to
federal court bears the burden of proving that jurisdiction
exists. See Scott v. Breeland, 792 F.2d 925, 927
(9th Cir. 1986). Further, a “strong presumption”
against removal jurisdiction exists. See Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir. 1992).
asserts that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction due
to the existence of a federal question. Removal at 2-3.
Section 1441 provides, in relevant part, that a defendant may
remove to federal court a civil action in state court of
which the federal court has original jurisdiction.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Section 1331 provides
that federal “district courts shall have original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
See Id. § 1331.
the Court's review of the Notice of Removal and attached
Complaint and Answer makes clear that this Court does not
have federal question jurisdiction over the instant matter
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. First, there is no federal
question apparent from the face of the Complaint, which
appears to allege only a simple unlawful detainer cause of
action. See Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, No. CV
10-8203 GAF (SSx), 2010 WL 4916578, *2 (C.D.Cal. Nov. 22,
2010) (“An unlawful detainer action does not arise
under federal law.”) (citation omitted); IndyMac
Federal Bank, F.S.B. v. Ocampo, No. EDCV 09-2337 PA
(DTBx), 2010 WL 234828, at *2 (C.D.Cal. Jan. 13, 2010)
(remanding an action to state court for lack of subject
matter jurisdiction where plaintiff's complaint contained
only an unlawful detainer claim).
there is no merit to Defendant's contention that federal
question jurisdiction exists because the Complaint failed to
comply with the requirements of the PTFA. Removal at 2-3. The
PTFA does not create a private right of action; rather, it
provides a defense to state law unlawful detainer actions.
See Logan v. U.S. Bank Nat. Ass'n, 722 F.3d
1163, 1164 (9th Cir. 2013) (affirming dismissal of the
complaint because the PTFA “does not create a private
right of action allowing [plaintiff] to enforce its
requirements”). It is well settled that a “case
may not be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal
defense . . . even if the defense is anticipated in the
plaintiff's complaint, and even if both parties concede
that the federal defense is the only question truly at
issue.” Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 393, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 2430, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987).
Thus, to the extent Defendant's defenses to the unlawful
detainer action are based on alleged violations of federal
law, those defenses do not provide a basis for federal
question jurisdiction. See Id. Because
Plaintiffs' complaint does not present a federal
question, either on its face or as artfully pled, the court
lacks jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
IT IS ORDERED that this case is REMANDED to the Superior
Court of ...