United States District Court, C.D. California
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
Present: The Honorable PERCY ANDERSON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
IN CHAMBERS - COURT ORDER
Court is in receipt of a Notice of Removal filed by defendant
Darryl Jenkins (“Defendant”) on July 5, 2019. In
her Complaint, plaintiff Susan Megwa
(“Plaintiff”) alleges a single state law claim
for unlawful detainer. Defendant, who is appearing pro se,
asserts that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction on
the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332 and federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject
matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the
Constitution and Congress. See, e.g., Kokkonen
v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct.
1673, 1675, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). A “strong
presumption” against removal jurisdiction exists.
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 567 (9th Cir.
1992). In seeking removal, the defendant bears the burden of
proving that jurisdiction exists. Scott v. Breeland,
792 F.2d 925, 927 (9th Cir. 1986).
matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship
requires all plaintiffs to have different citizenship from
all defendants and that the amount in controversy exceed $75,
000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332; Owen Equip.
& Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 373, 98
S.Ct. 2396, 2402, 57 L.Ed.2d 274 (1978). To establish
citizenship for diversity purposes, a natural person must be
a citizen of the United States and be domiciled in a
particular state. Kantor v. Wellesley Galleries,
Ltd., 704 F.2d 1088, 1090 (9th Cir. 1983). Persons are
domiciled in the places they reside with the intent to remain
or to which they intend to return. See Kanter v.
Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir. 2001).
Defendant has failed to establish that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. Although Defendant asserts in
his Notice of Removal that the amount in controversy
requirement is met because “Plaintiff seeks possession
of Defendant's property in which the value exceeds $546,
000.00. The value of the object of the instant litigation -
the real property at issue and the value thereon - is well
over $75, 000.00.” Contrary to Defendant's
contentions, in unlawful detainer actions, the title to the
property is not involved; only the right to possession is
implicated. Evans v. Superior Court, 67 Cal.App.3d
162, 170 (1977). As such, the amount in controversy is
determined by the amount of damages sought in the Complaint,
rather than by the value of the subject real property.
Id. Here, Plaintiff's Complaint specifically
alleges that damages do not exceed $10, 000. Given that the
value of the subject real property is not in controversy,
Defendant has failed to show that this action meets the
amount in controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction.
Notice of Removal also alleges that there “is an issue
of title and a violation of federal laws under the federal
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act . . . which confer[s]
original jurisdiction on federal courts in suits to address
the deprivation of rights secured by federal law.”
Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, this Court has original
jurisdiction over civil actions “arising under”
federal law. Removal based on § 1331 is governed by the
“well-pleaded complaint” rule. Caterpillar,
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425,
2429, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). Under the rule, “federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Id. at 392, 107 S.Ct. at 2429, 96
L.Ed.2d 318. If the complaint does not specify whether a
claim is based on federal or state law, it is a claim
“arising under” federal law only if it is
“clear” that it raises a federal question.
Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir.
1996). Thus, a plaintiff is generally the “master of
the claim.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392, 107
S.Ct. at 2429, 96 L.Ed.2d 318. “A case may not
be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal
defense, including the defense of preemption.”
Id. at 393, 107 S.Ct. at 2430, 96 L.Ed.2d 318
(emphasis in original). The only exception to this rule is
where plaintiff's federal claim has been disguised by
“artful pleading, ” such as where the only claim
is a federal one or is a state claim preempted by federal
law. Sullivan v. First Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813
F.2d 1368, 1372 (9th Cir. 1987).
the underlying Complaint contains only a single cause of
action for unlawful detainer. Accordingly, this action does
not “arise under” federal law. Moreover,
Defendant's references to the Fair Debt Collection
Practices Act and other federal law do not constitute a
proper basis for removal because neither a federal defense
nor an actual or anticipated federal counterclaim forms a
basis for removal. See, e.g., Vaden v. Discover
Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 61-62, 129 S.Ct. 1262, 1272, 173
L.Ed.2d 206 (2009).
foregoing reasons, Defendant has failed to meet his burden of
showing that this Court possesses subject matter jurisdiction
over this action. Because the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction, this action is hereby remanded to the Los