United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REMAND;
DENYING PLAINTIFF'S REQUEST FOR RULE 11 SANCTIONS Re:
Dkt. No. 13
M. CHESNEY United States District Judge
the Court is plaintiff Linda Cooks' (“Cooks”)
Motion for Remand, filed May 17, 2017. On May 31, 2017,
defendant Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. filed opposition,
on June 7, 2017, Cooks filed a reply, after which, on June
29, 2017, with leave of Court, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. filed a
surreply. Having considered the parties' written
submissions, the Court rules as follows.
alleges that defendants Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., Wells Fargo
Home Mortgage, and Wells Fargo & Company collectively
engaged in unlawful conduct in relation to a Wells Fargo
“home loan” encumbering Cooks' “family
home.” (See Compl. at 2:1-4, ¶¶ 1,
10.) In particular, Cooks alleges, defendants engaged in a
“predatory lending scheme and ‘pick-a-pay'
payment program which negatively amortized her loan”
(see id. ¶ 2), “strung her along”
during a loan modification process” (see id.
¶ 3), and “recorded a Notice of Default on [her]
home” while “a decision was pending” on her
“loan modification application” (see id.
3, 2017, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. removed the above-titled
action on the asserted basis of diversity jurisdiction,
contending the parties were “entirely diverse” in
citizenship. (See Not. Removal at 2:12.) In
particular, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. asserted that (1) Cooks is
a California citizen; (2) Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a South
Dakota citizen; (3) Wells Fargo Home Mortgage “no
longer exists as a separate and independent legal entity,
having been merged into Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. in 2004”
(see id. at 4:8-9); and (5) Wells Fargo &
Company was fraudulently joined as a defendant to the action.
instant motion, Cooks argues that the parties are not diverse
in citizenship and that Rule 11 sanctions should be imposed
on Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. for removing the action.
case has been removed from state court and “at any time
before final judgment it appears that the district court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
remanded.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
Court is required to “strictly construe the removal
statute against removal jurisdiction, ” and
“[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is
any doubt as to the right of removal in the first
instance.” See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d
564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The removing defendant
“always has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.” See id.
courts have diversity jurisdiction over all civil actions
between “citizens of different [s]tates” where
the amount in controversy exceeds “$75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs.” See 28 U.S.C. §
1332. Diversity jurisdiction requires “complete
diversity of citizenship”; diversity jurisdiction
applies only where “the citizenship of each plaintiff
is diverse from the citizenship of each defendant.”
See Caterpillar, Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68
as noted above, Cooks contends remand is appropriate because
the parties are not diverse in citizenship. In particular,
Cooks argues that (1) Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a citizen of
California and (2) Wells Fargo & Company, although a
citizen of California, is not fraudulently joined.
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.'s Citizenship
Notice of Removal, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. asserts it is a
citizen of South Dakota and, as such, is diverse in
citizenship from Cooks, a citizen of California. In
particular, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. argues that, as a national
banking association, it “is a citizen of the [s]tate in
which its main office, as set forth in its articles of
association, is located, ” see Wachovia Bank v.
Schmidt, 546 U.S. 303, 307 (2006), and, in support
thereof, attaches a copy of its Articles of Association,
which state that its main office “shall be in the City
of Sioux Falls, County of Minnehaha, State of South
Dakota” (see Not. Removal Ex. F at 2).
in her motion for remand, agrees that Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.
is a citizen of South Dakota, but argues such defendant is
also a citizen of California, the state in which, Cooks
contends, Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. has its principal place of
business. In support thereof, Cooks cites to two cases,
namely, American Surety Co. v. Bank of Cal., 133
F.2d 160 (9th Cir. 1943), a Ninth Circuit case that held
national banking associations are citizens of the
“states in which their principal places of business are
maintained, ” see id. at 162, and Taheny
v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 878 F.Supp.2d 1093 (E.D. Cal.