United States District Court, N.D. California
THEODORE B. LICHTI, Plaintiff,
HEATHER HAMMOND, Defendant.
ORDER REMANDING CASE TO STATE COURT FOR LACK OF
SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION Re: Dkt. No. 1
HAYWOOD S. GILLIAM, JR. United States District Judge
3, 2017, Defendant Heather Hammond removed this case from
Humboldt County Superior Court. Dkt. No. 1. She also seeks to
proceed in forma pauperis. Dkt. No. 3. Having
reviewed Defendant's notice of removal, the Court finds
that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action
and accordingly REMANDS the case to state
Theordore Lichti is the owner of the real property located at
6521 Avenue of the Giants, Space RV-2, Miranda, California,
in Humboldt County (the “Property”). Dkt. No. 1-1
at 6. Defendant has rented the property as a month-to-month
tenant since approximately October 1, 2014. Id. On
December 28, 2016, Defendant was personally served with a
notice to quit. Id. at 7. In his form complaint,
Plaintiff failed to check the box indicating the time period
of the notice, id., but Defendant's demurrer
states that it was a three-day notice of termination of
tenancy, id. at 11. At any rate, Defendant had not
complied with the notice as of the filing of the complaint,
and Plaintiff sought possession of the Property, damages for
unpaid income, and costs. Id. at 8. On the ground
that Defendant's continued possession of the Property was
“malicious, ” Plaintiff asserted that section
1174(b) of the California Code of Civil Procedure provided a
basis for him to recover statutory damages. Id.
Plaintiff filed his complaint as a limited civil case
demanding less than $10, 000. Id. at 6.
unartfully worded, Defendant's notice of removal is
fairly construed as stating that removal is proper under 28
U.S.C. § 1441 because the Court has subject matter
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Dkt. No. 1 at 2-3.
However, the basis for such jurisdiction, according to
Defendant, is its own answer:
Defendant filed an Answer to the complaint based on a
defective notice, i.e., the Notice to Pay Rent or Quit,
failed to comply with The Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure
Act [12 U.S.C. § 5220]. . . . Federal question exists
because Defendant's Answer, a pleading depend [sic] on
the determination of Defendant's rights and
Plaintiff's duties under federal law.
Id. (bracketed statute in original).
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
“arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. A case only
“arises under federal law within the meaning of §
1331 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) (internal quotation marks and
ellipses omitted). 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) (internal
quotation marks omitted).
fails to show that removal is proper based on any federal
law. Defendant's notice of removal characterizes its
answer asserting a defense under federal law as the basis for
the Court to exercise federal question jurisdiction. However,
this argument is meritless because federal question
jurisdiction must be premised on the face of the
complaint-not a defense thereto. Plaintiffs complaint does
not allege any federal claims whatsoever. Apart from this
flawed theory, Defendant asserts no other basis for the Court
to exercise subject matter jurisdiction, and the Court
the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it
REMANDS the case to Humboldt County Superior
Court, Case No. CV170163. Defendant's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis is moot. ...