United States District Court, E.D. California
KATIE WAY, an individual, JOHN WAY, an individual, and EDDY WAY, and individual, Plaintiffs,
JP MORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., CALIBER HOME LOANS, INC., U.S. BANK, N.A., as trustee for LSF9 MASTER PARTICIPATION TRUST, and MTC FINANCIAL INC., dba TRUSTEE CORPS, Defendants.
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
L. NUNLEY UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs Katie Way, John Way
and Eddy Way's (collectively “Plaintiffs”)
Motion to Remand. (ECF No. 14.) Defendant JP Morgan Chase
Bank, N.A. (“Chase”) opposes the
motion. (ECF No. 34.) Having reviewed the briefing
filed by both parties and for the reasons set forth below,
the Court hereby DENIES Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (ECF
Factual and Procedural Background
action involves real property located at 16 Nob Court,
Sacramento, California 95826. (ECF No. 21.) Plaintiffs
commenced this lawsuit in the Superior Court of California,
County of Sacramento on August 16, 2016. (ECF No. 1.)
Plaintiffs assert six claims against all Defendants alleging
as follows: (1) Breach of Contract; (2) Breach of Implied
Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing; (3) Intentional
Infliction of Emotional Distress; (4) Violation of California
Civil Code § 2923.55; (5) Negligence; and (6) Violation
of Business and Professions Code § 17200. (ECF No. 21.)
Defendants removed the action on September 21, 2016. (ECF No.
1.) Plaintiffs filed their motion to remand on October 21,
2016. (ECF No. 14.)
Standard of Law
civil action brought in a State court of which the district
courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may
be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the
district court of the United States for the district and
division embracing the place where such action is
pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). The district court
has original jurisdiction over civil actions between citizens
of different states in which the alleged damages exceed $75,
000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). An action otherwise
removable shall not be removed if any of the parties properly
joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the state in
which such action is brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2).
The party asserting federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
proving diversity. Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 749
(9th Cir. 1986) (citing Resnik v. La Paz Guest
Ranch, 289 F.2d 814, 819 (9th Cir. 1961)). Diversity is
determined as of the time the complaint is filed and removal
effected. Strotek Corp. v. Air Transp. Ass'n of
Am., 300 F.3d 1129, 1131 (9th Cir. 2002). Removal
statutes are to be strictly construed against removal.
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
amount in controversy is determined by reference to the
complaint itself and includes the amount of damages in
dispute, as well as attorney's fees, if authorized by
statute or contract. Kroske v. U.S. Bank Corp., 432
F.3d 976, 980 (9th Cir. 2005). Where the complaint does not
pray for damages in a specific amount, the defendant must
prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. Singer v. State Farm Mut.
Auto. Ins. Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997)
(citing Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102
F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir. 1996)). If the amount is not facially
apparent from the complaint, the Court may “require
parties to submit summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to
the amount in controversy at the time of removal.”
Id. (citing Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas
Co., 63 F.3d 1326, 1335-56 (5th Cir. 1995)).
based on diversity requires that the citizenship of each
plaintiff be diverse from the citizenship of each defendant
(i.e. complete diversity). Caterpillar Inc. v.
Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996). For purposes of
diversity, a limited liability company (LLC) is a citizen of
every state in which its “owners/members” are
citizens. Johnson v. Columbia Prop. Anchorage, LP,
437 F.3d 894, 899 (9th Cir. 2006) (explaining that courts are
to treat LLCs like partnerships, which have the citizenships
of all of their members). A corporation is a citizen of any
state in which it is incorporated and any state in which it
maintains its principal place of business. 28 U.S.C. §
argues this Court does not have subject matter jurisdiction
because Defendant MTC Financial Inc., doing business as
Trustee Corps (“Trustee Corps”) is a citizen of
California and therefore complete diversity does not exist.
(ECF No. 14 at 6.) Chase argues Trustee Corps is a nominal
defendant and should not count toward determining diversity.
(ECF No. 34 at 2-3.) Plaintiff further asserts it is not
clear that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 because
the entire loan is not in controversy. (ECF No. 14 at 7.)
Chase counters the indebtedness owed or the fair market value
of the property is the appropriate amount in controversy.
(ECF No. 34 at 4.)
Trustee Corps is a Nominal Defendant
assessing diversity, “court[s] must disregard nominal
or formal parties and rest jurisdiction only upon the
citizenship of real parties to the controversy.”
Kuntz v. Lamar Corp., 385 F.3d 1177, 1183 (9th Cir.
2004.) A nominal party has no interest in the action and is
joined to “perform a ministerial act.”
Prudential Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. v. PPR Realty,
Inc., 204 F.3d 867, 873 (9th Cir. 2000). The
quintessential nominal defendants are trustees, agents, or
depositories who are joined merely to facilitate collection.
S.E.C. v. Colello, 139 F.3d 674, 676 (9th Cir.
1998). However, a trustee may not be a nominal defendant
where the complaint includes “substantive allegations
and asserts claims for money damages against the
trustee.” Perez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 929
F.Supp.2d 988, 1002 (N.D. Cal. 2013).
Plaintiffs do not assert any substantive allegations against
Trustee Corps. (See generally ECF No. 21.) In fact,
Plaintiffs qualify each claim raised against Trustee Corps
with the same sentence.
Trustee Corps is the foreclosure trustee to the Loan who
would conduct a foreclosure sale of the Subject Property if
ordered by the Loan's owner and servicer. As such, this
cause of action is directed at Trustee Corps only to the
extent that they are a ...