United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER (1) SUA SPONTE REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT
FOR LACK OF SUBJECT MATTER JURISDICTION; (2) DENYING
DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO PROCEED IN FORMA PAUPERIS AS MOOT;
AND (3) DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND AS MOOT
(DOC. NOS. 2, 3)
Anthony J. Battaglia, United States District Judge
12, 2017, Defendant James R. Roohan (“Removing
Defendant”), acting pro se, filed a notice of
removal of an unlawful detainer action filed in San Diego
Superior Court, (Doc. No. 1), and a motion to proceed in
forma pauperis (“IFP”), (Doc. No. 2).
Subsequently, Plaintiff Sage Home Mortgage, LLC
(“Plaintiff”) filed a motion to remand. (Doc. No.
3.) For the reasons set forth below, the Court sua
sponte REMANDS the action for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction, (Doc. No. 1), DENIES AS MOOT Removing
Defendant's application to proceed IFP, (Doc. No. 2), and
DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiff's motion to remand, (Doc. No.
instant matter finds itself in federal court for the second
time, having been removed and remanded once before. The
underlying facts remain the same: on December 19, 2016,
Plaintiff filed an unlawful detainer suit in the Superior
Court of California, County of San Diego against Defendants
James R. Roohan and Does 1-10 (collectively referred to as
“Defendants”). (Doc. No. 1 at 3-6.) Plaintiff
alleges that on November 28, 2016, it purchased the premises
located at 485 La Costa Avenue, Encinitas, CA 92024 in a
non-judicial foreclosure sale under California law.
(Id. at 4.) In spite of this purchase, Plaintiff
alleges that Defendants have continued to possess the
property and thus it seeks damages including restitution,
unpaid rent, and attorney's fees and costs. (Id.
February 10, 2017, Removing Defendant filed his first notice
of removal based on federal question jurisdiction in this
Court-17-cv-00272. (Doc. No. 3-1 at 3.) However, finding that
the complaint relied entirely on state law, and that the
removal notice offered no facts regarding a substantial
federal question nor a subject matter jurisdiction issue on
the basis of citizenship, Judge John A. Houston sua
sponte remanded the case back to state court.
(Id.; Doc. No. 3-8.) On July 12, 2017, Removing
Defendant filed his second notice of removal that sought to
remove the same unlawful detainer action. (Doc. No. 1.)
courts are of limited jurisdiction, having subject matter
jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the Constitution
and Congress. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of
Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A defendant may remove a
civil action from state court to federal court only if the
district court could have original jurisdiction over the
matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Removal statutes are
strictly construed against removal.” Luther v.
Countrywide Home Loans Serv., L.P., 533 F.3d 1031, 1034
(9th Cir. 2008). There is a “strong presumption”
against removal jurisdiction, and the party seeking removal
always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
1992). If there is any doubt as to the propriety of removal,
federal jurisdiction must be rejected. Id. at 567.
At any time during court proceedings, a district court may
remand a case to state court if the district court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over the case. 28 U.S.C. §
Defendant's notice of removal alleges that the Court has
jurisdiction over the action pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a) and/or (b). (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) Federal question
jurisdiction exists over “all civil actions arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331; see also U.S.
Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1. Jurisdiction in federal
question cases is “governed by the ‘well-pleaded
complaint rule, ' which provides that federal [question]
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Diversity jurisdiction exists where
there is complete diversity among opposing parties and the
amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §
the clear and straightforward order by Judge Houston that was
filed in February of this year, Removing Defendant is seeking
to remove the same action to the district court again.
However, Removing Defendant's second attempt to bring his
case to federal court is not only frivolous, but wholly
flawed. Here, Removing Defendant attaches to his notice a
short statement of his allegations regarding the lending
history behind the property, complaints against different
people involved in the sale of the property, and the instant
action for unlawful detainer. (Doc. No. 1 at 9.) However, the
Court again highlights that the complaint affirmatively shows
that the only allegation is for a single claim for unlawful
detainer, which is a California state law cause of action.
(Doc. No. 1 at 3 (see Wells Fargo Bank v. Lapeen,
No. C 11-01932 LB, 2011 WL 2194117, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 6,
2011) (“An unlawful detainer action, on its face, does
not arise under federal law but is purely a creature of
California law.”) (citing Wescom Credit Union v.
Dudley, No. CV 10-8203 GAF (SSx), 2010 WL 4916578, at *2
(C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2010))).
Court also notes that Removing Defendant makes no claims that
removal is appropriate based on diversity jurisdiction.
Looking at the complaint, the Court finds that Plaintiff and
Removing Defendant are both citizens of California. (Doc. No.
1 at 3.) Thus, the complete diversity between the parties
that is needed for a finding of diversity jurisdiction is
upon the foregoing, the Court finds that the complaint does
not “necessarily raise a stated federal issue, actually
disputed and substantial, ” which this Court “may
entertain without disturbing any congressionally approved
balance of federal and state judicial
responsibilities.” Grable & Sons Metal Prods.,
Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314
(2005); see also Aurora Loan Servs., LLC v. Montoya,
No. 2:11-cv-2485-MCE-KJN-PS, 2011 WL 5508926, at *3 (E.D.
Cal. Nov. 9, 2011) (“[P]laintiff filed its Complaint in
Superior Court asserting a single claim for unlawful detainer
premised solely on California law. Because a claim for
unlawful detainer does not by itself present a federal
question or necessarily turn on the construction of federal
law, no basis for federal question jurisdiction appears on
the face of the Complaint.”). Consequently, as the
complaint in the instant action does not present a federal
question and diversity jurisdiction is not present, the Court
lacks subject matter jurisdiction.
final note, Plaintiff has asked the Court to sanction
Removing Defendant for allegedly abusing the court system by
removing his case a second time for the purpose of increasing
costs on Plaintiff and delaying trial. (Doc. No. 3-1 at 9.)
After reviewing the pleadings, the Court has reason to
believe that Removing Defendant has indeed been using notices
of removal and stays of action to unduly delay court
proceedings and frustrate judicial economy. (See
generally Doc. Nos. 1, 3.) However, the Court does not
deem sanctions to be appropriate at this time. Nevertheless,
the Court warns Removing Defendant that if he chooses to make
any further filings in the district court regarding the