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Culross v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

September 13, 2019

MICHAEL CULROSS, an individual; MAKI HIRANO, an individual, Plaintiffs,
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC dba MR. COOPER; BARRET DAFFIN, FRAPPIER, TREDER & WEISS, LLP; and DOES 1 through 20, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND [9]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 27, 2019, Plaintiffs Michael Culross and Maki Hirano (“Plaintiffs”) filed this action alleging three causes of action for dual tracking, wrongful foreclosure, and unfair business practices in the Superior Court of California for the County of Los Angeles. (Notice of Removal Ex. 1 (“Compl.”), ECF No. 1-1.) Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC doing business as Mr. Cooper (“Nationstar”) removed this matter based on federal diversity jurisdiction. (See Notice of Removal ¶ 3, ECF No. 1.) Plaintiffs move to remand. (Mot. to Remand (“Mot.”), ECF No. 9.) For the reasons that follow, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion and REMANDS this action to state court.1

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         This action arises from a dispute regarding a real property loan on Plaintiff's residence located at 815 Magnolia Street, South Pasadena, California 91030. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 15.) On March 27, 2019, Plaintiffs brought this action against Defendants Nationstar Mortgage LLC (“Nationstar”) and Barret, Daffin, Frappier, Treder & Weiss, LLP (“Barret Daffin”) (collectively, “Defendants”). (Compl. ¶¶ 4-5, 7.)

         On May 6, 2019, Barret Daffin filed a declaration of non-monetary status pursuant to California Civil Code § 2941(a). (Notice of Removal Ex. 3.) Barret Daffin, “knows or maintains a reasonable belief that it has been named as a defendant solely in its capacity as a substitute trustee under said Deed of Trust and that plaintiffs' do not assert any legally viable claims against Defendant [omitted].” Id. at 2. A valid non-monetary declaration would not require Barret Daffin to participate any further in the action or proceeding. Cal. Civ. Code § 29241(d).

         On May 10, 2019, Nationstar removed this action based on federal diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 3, 5-13.) Nationstar states it is a citizen of Delaware and Texas for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. (Id. ¶ 8.) Plaintiffs are domiciled in California, thus are citizens of California for purposes of diversity jurisdiction. (Id. ¶ 7.) Plaintiffs claim damages “in the amount of no less than $100, 000.00.” (Id. ¶ 12.)

         On May 26, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a motion to remand claiming the amount in controversy does not exceed $75, 000 to satisfy diversity jurisdiction. (Mot. 2.)

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         Federal courts have subject matter jurisdiction only as authorized by the Constitution and Congress. U.S. Const. art. III, § 2, cl. 1; see also Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A suit filed in state court 1 After carefully considering the papers filed in connection with the Motion, the Court deemed the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. may be removed to federal court only if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have original jurisdiction where an action arises under federal law, Id. § 1331, or where each plaintiff's citizenship is diverse from each defendant's citizenship and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, Id. § 1332(a).

         The removal statute is strictly construed against removal, and “[f]ederal 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). The party seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. Id.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         Nationstar invokes diversity jurisdiction as grounds for this Court's subject matter jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 3, 5-13.) The Supreme Court “ha[s] consistently interpreted § 1332 as requiring complete diversity: In a case with multiple plaintiffs and multiple defendants, the presence in the action of a single plaintiff from the same State as a single defendant deprives the district court of original diversity jurisdiction over the entire action.” Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 553 (2005). Accordingly, this Motion turns on whether complete diversity exists.

         Nationstar believes it has satisfied the requirements for removal. (Notice of Removal ¶¶ 3, 5-13.) Nationstar claims that Plaintiffs are both citizens of California, and Nationstar is a citizen ...


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