United States District Court, E.D. California
SUA SPONTE ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE
A. Mendez United States District Court Judge
undersigned revokes any actual or anticipated referral to a
Magistrate Judge for the purposes of Findings and
Recommendations in this case. See Local Rule 302(d)
(“Notwithstanding any other provision of this Rule, a
Judge may retain any matter otherwise routinely referred to a
23, 2019, Defendants Amelia Hernandez and David B Jones filed
a Notice of Removal with this Court, seeking to remove an
action from the San Joaquin County Superior Court. Notice of
Removal, ECF No. 1. For the following reasons, the Court sua
sponte REMANDS this case to San Joaquin County Superior
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove an action to
federal court if the district court has original
jurisdiction. Hunter v. Phillip Morris USA, 582 F.3d
1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Ansley v. Ameriquest
Mortg. Co., 340 F.3d 858, 861 (9th Cir. 2003)). If at
any time before final judgment it appears that the district
court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be
remanded. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Generally, a defendant
seeking to remove an action to federal court must file a
notice of removal within thirty days of receiving a copy of
the initial pleading. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The defendant
seeking removal of an action to federal court has the burden
of establishing federal jurisdiction in the case.
California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d
831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004).
Defendants attempt to invoke the Court's federal question
jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction. Notice of Removal at
3-4. Defendants argue that this Court has federal question
jurisdiction under the Due Process Clause. Id. at 4.
Furthermore, they argue the Court has diversity jurisdiction
because Plaintiff is not a citizen of the same state as
Defendants and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
Id. at 3-4.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and lack inherent
or general subject matter jurisdiction. Federal courts can
adjudicate only those cases authorized by the United States
Constitution and Congress. Generally, those cases involve
diversity of citizenship or a federal question, or cases in
which the United States is a party. Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375 (1994); Finley v. United
States, 490 U.S. 545 (1989). Federal courts are
presumptively without jurisdiction over civil actions.
Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at 377. Lack of subject matter
jurisdiction is never waived and may be raised by the Court
sua sponte. Attorneys Trust v. Videotape Computer Prods.,
Inc., 93 F.3d 593, 594-95 (9th Cir. 1996).
“Nothing is to be more jealously guarded by a court
than its jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is what its power rests
upon. Without jurisdiction it is nothing.” In re
Mooney, 841 F.2d 1003, 1006 (9th Cir. 1988).
Ninth Circuit has held that the removal statute should be
strictly construed in favor of remand and against removal.
Harris v. Bankers Life and Cas. Co., 425 F.3d 689,
698 (9th Cir. 2005). The “strong presumption”
against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always
has the burden of establishing that removal is proper.
Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assocs., 903
F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990); Emrich v. Touche Ross
& Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1195 (9th Cir. 1988). Federal
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance. Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).
case, Defendants are unable to establish jurisdiction before
this Court because the complaint filed in the state court,
MAN-CV-LUDRF-2019-003610, contains a single cause of action
for unlawful detainer. Unlawful detainer actions are strictly
within the province of state court. A defendant's attempt
to create federal subject-matter jurisdiction by adding
claims or defenses to a notice of removal will not succeed.
Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 50 (2009)
(federal question jurisdiction cannot “rest upon an
actual or anticipated counterclaim”); Valles v. Ivy
Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir. 2005)
(“A federal law defense to a state-law claim does not
confer jurisdiction on a federal court, even if the defense
is that of federal preemption and is anticipated in the
determining the presence or absence of federal jurisdiction
in removal cases, the “well-pleaded complaint
rule” applies, “which provides that federal
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). Moreover, “it is well established
that plaintiff is the ‘master of her complaint' and
can plead to avoid federal jurisdiction.”
Lowdermilk v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 479
F.3d 994, 998-99 (9th Cir. 2007); Metro. Life Ins. Co. v.
Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 63 (1987) (citing Gully v.
First Nat'l Bank, 299 U.S. 109 (1936)) (“It is
long settled law that a cause of action arises under federal
law only when the plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint
raises issues of federal law.”).
complaint raises a single state law claim for unlawful
detainer. The face of a properly-pled state law unlawful
detainer action does not present a federal question.
Therefore, Plaintiff's complaint avoids federal question
jurisdiction. Defendants cannot inject a federal issue
through their answer.
Defendants have not met their burden of showing the Court has
diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff's complaint sets the
amount in controversy as less than $10, 000. Notice of
Removal, Exh. 2 at 2. Subject to a “good faith”
requirement, “the sum claimed by the plaintiff
controls.” St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab
Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289-290 (1938). Defendants failed to
show Plaintiffs pleading of the amount in controversy was
made in bad faith. Consequently, they have failed to show the
Court has diversity jurisdiction over the suit.
Court REMANDS this case to San Joaquin County Superior Court
for all future proceedings. Defendants' motion to proceed