United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES
Order REMANDING the matter, on the Court's own motion, to
Riverside County Superior Court (IN CHAMBERS)
7, 2017, Gerald Garwood (“Defendant”), proceeding
pro se, removed this unlawful detainer action to
this Court (Case No. PSC 1701949). (Notice of Removal, Dkt.
No. 1.) Because this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction
over the unlawful detainer action, it REMANDS the matter to
the Riverside County Superior Court.
law empowers a defendant to remove an action to federal court
if the district court has original jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). “Only state court actions that
originally could have been filed in federal court may be
removed to federal court by the defendant.”
Caterprillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). Subject matter jurisdiction is invoked under 28
U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question) or 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a) (diversity). In his removal motion, Defendant alleges
federal question jurisdiction under 15 U.S.C. § 78aa,
because “Securities law [is] involved in this case,
” and diversity jurisdiction because “Fannie Mae
 is a District of Columbia Corporation.” (Notice of
Removal at ¶¶ 3, 1.)
courts have “original jurisdiction of all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States.” 28 U.S.C. 1331. Whether a claim
“arises under” federal law must be determined by
reference to the “well-pleaded complaint.”
Franchise Tax Bd. of Cal. v. Construction Laborers
Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 9 (1983). An unlawful
detainer, or eviction action is a matter of state law.
McGee v. Hildebrand, 19 Fed.Appx. 582, 583 (9th Cir.
2001) (finding the defendant's claim that an unlawful
detainer action violated his federal rights insufficient to
establish subject matter jurisdiction where the defendant
failed to identify any state statute or constitutional
provision that purported to command the state courts to
ignore federal rights). Here, the Complaint alleges a single
claim for unlawful detainer. (Notice of Removal.) Thus, this
action could not have originally been brought in federal
court in that the state court complaint does not allege facts
establishing federal question or diversity jurisdiction.
federal question may arise during the litigation in
connection with a defense or counterclaim is insufficient to
establish subject matter jurisdiction for purposes of
removal. Rivet v. Regions Bank of La., 522 U.S. 470,
475 (1998) (“A defense is not part of a plaintiff's
properly pleaded statement of his or her claim .”). A
single claim for unlawful detainer, therefore, does not
invoke this Court's jurisdiction. See Canterbury Lots
68, LLC v. De La Torre, No. 13-cv- 00712, 2013 WL
781974, *3 (C.D. Cal. Feb.28, 2013) (remanding action where
complaint only raised a single cause of action for unlawful
detainer); Golden Union Properties, LLC v.
Amesquita, No. 10-cv-09607, 2011 WL 321095, *3 (C.D.
Cal. Jan.26, 2011) (remanding case for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction where complaint contained only an unlawful
detainer claim). Thus, that Defendant is “about to file
a civil action” against his creditors under federal
securities laws bears little on the propriety of removal
district courts have jurisdiction over suits for more than
$75, 000 where the citizenship of each plaintiff is different
from that of each defendant. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Here,
since diversity of citizenship is satisfied; Defendant is a
citizen of California and the Federal National Mortgage
Association (“Plaintiff”) is a citizen of
Washington D.C. The only issue as to diversity jurisdiction
is thus whether Defendant has shown by a preponderance of the
evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398,
404 (9th Cir. 1996)(“[W]e hold that in cases where a
plaintiff's state court complaint does not specify a
particular amount of damages, the removing defendant bears
the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the
evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds $[75,
000].”). He has not.
stated prominently on the face of the complaint, Plaintiff
seeks less than $10, 000. (Notice of Removal at 9.) In
unlawful detainer actions, moreover, the amount of damages
sought in the complaint, not the value of the subject real
property, determines the amount in controversy. Evans v.
Superior Court, 67 Cal.App.3d 162, 170 (1977). For that
reason, the amount in controversy is less than $75, 000.
Finding that Defendant fails to satisfy the requirements of
both federal question jurisdiction and diversity
jurisdiction, removal was improper
district court may remand an action to state court for lack
of subject matter jurisdiction on its own motion. 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(c). Accordingly, the Court REMANDS this action to
the Riverside County Superior Court. The Clerk of the Court
is directed to serve a copy of this order on the Riverside
County Superior Court and to serve the Parties in the