United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER SUA SPONTE REMANDING ACTION TO STANISLAUS
COUNTY SUPERIOR COURT
an unlawful detainer action brought under California state
law by plaintiff Catamount Properties 2018, LLC against
defendant Marvin R. Wennekamp. On October 7, 2019, defendant
removed this case to this federal court from the Stanislaus
County Superior Court. (Doc. No. 1.) Defendant appears to
assert two bases for removal: (1) diversity jurisdiction; and
(2) “Denial of due process in Unlawful Detainer:
Eviction after foreclosure and/or rental lease and ejectment,
in that the rules of evidence and civil procedure are applied
without equal protection.” (Id. at 2.) For the
reasons that follow, however, the court remands this action
back to the superior court.
district court has “a duty to establish subject matter
jurisdiction over the removed action sua sponte,
whether the parties raised the issue or not.”
United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell &
Reed, Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir. 2004). The
removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, is strictly construed
against removal jurisdiction. Geographic Expeditions,
Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka, 559 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir.
2010); Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome,
Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009). It is
presumed that a case lies outside the limited jurisdiction of
the federal courts, and the burden of establishing the
contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.
Geographic Expeditions, 559 F.3d at 1106-07;
Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042
(9th Cir. 2009). In addition, “the existence of federal
jurisdiction depends solely on the plaintiff's claims for
relief and not on anticipated defenses to those
claims.” ARCO Envtl. Remediation, LLC v. Dep't
of Health & Envtl. Quality, 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th
Cir. 2000). “The strong presumption against removal
jurisdiction” means that “the court resolves all
ambiguity in favor of remand to state court.”
Hunter, 582 F.3d at 1042; Gaus v. Miles,
Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). That is,
federal jurisdiction over a removed case “must be
rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in
the first instance.” Geographic Expeditions,
559 F.3d at 1107; Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480,
1485 (9th Cir. 1996); Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566.
“If at any time prior to judgment it appears that the
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case
shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c);
Gibson v. Chrysler Corp., 261 F.3d 927, 932 (9th
Cir. 2001). Remand under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) “is
mandatory, not discretionary.” Bruns v. NCUA,
122 F.3d 1251, 1257 (9th Cir. 1997); see also California
ex. rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th
Cir. 2004). Where it appears, as it does here, that the
district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a
removed case, “the case shall be remanded.” 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c).
first seeks removal of this action to this court based on
diversity jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
Federal courts may exercise diversity jurisdiction when the
parties are in complete diversity, i.e. that
citizenship of each plaintiff is different from that of each
defendant, and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.
See Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1043
(9th Cir. 2009); Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins.
Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003); see
also 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). “Absent unusual
circumstances, a party seeking to invoke diversity
jurisdiction should be able to allege affirmatively the
actual citizenship of the relevant parties.” Kanter
v. Warner-Lambert Co., 265 F.3d 853, 857 (9th Cir.
2002). Where it is “not facially evident from the
complaint that more than $75, 000 is in controversy, ”
defendants in the state action are required to prove,
“by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in
controversy [met] the jurisdictional threshold.”
Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117
(9th Cir. 2004).
defendant does not properly invoke this court's diversity
jurisdiction. Having reviewed defendant's notice of
removal, the court concludes that defendant has: (1) failed
to allege that the parties are in complete diversity; and (2)
failed to provide facts necessary to establish the requisite
amount in controversy by a preponderance of the evidence,
Valdez, 372 F.3d at 1117. Accordingly, the court
concludes that defendant cannot remove this action to this
court based on diversity jurisdiction.
defendant seeks removal of this action to this court by
relying on 28 U.S.C. § 1443. A party removing an action
under § 1443 must satisfy the following two-part test:
(1) the court must determine that the right allegedly being
denied the removal petitioner in state court arises under a
federal law providing for specific civil rights stated in
terms of equality; and (2) the court must determine that the
removal petitioner cannot enforce the specified federal right
in state court. Johnson v. Mississippi, 421 U.S.
213, 220 (1975); Georgia v. Rachel, 383 U.S. 780,
792, 794-99 (1966). “The ground for removal under
section 1443 is both specific and extremely narrow.”
Deo v. Guzman, No. 2:15-cv-1824-TLN-KJN, 2015 WL
5330445, at *2 (E.D. Cal. Sept. 11, 2015) (internal quotation
marks and citation omitted).
defendant contends that plaintiff and its counsel “are
not proceeding in the manner required by the [California]
Code of Civil Procedure, and particularly the rules in
evidence.” (Doc. No. 1 at 2.) Defendant argues that he
“is, therefore, being denied his due process rights and
equal protection under the 14th Amendment.”
(Id. at 3.) Defendant also contends in conclusory
fashion that plaintiff violated his civil rights.
(Id.) These allegations are insufficient to meet the
first prong of the applicable test because defendant has (1)
failed to allege specific facts substantiating his claims
that his federal rights have been violated and (2) failed to
identify the explicit statutory enactment that is violated by
the state court's action(s). Moreover, even if defendant
could satisfy the first prong of the test, he cannot meet the
second. A defendant has no inherent right to a federal forum
to adjudicate a federal right absent exclusive federal
jurisdiction. Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers
Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 10-12 (1983).
[T]he vindication of the defendant's federal rights is
left to the state courts except in the rare situations where
it can clearly be predicted by reason of the operation of a
pervasive and explicit state law or federal law that those
rights will inevitably be denied by the very act of bringing
the defendant to trial in the state court.
City of Greenwood v. Peacock, 384 U.S. 808, 828
(1966). This showing normally requires that “the denial
be manifest in a formal expression of state law.”
Rachel, 384 U.S. at 803; see also Johnson,
421 U.S. at 220. Here, defendant has not demonstrated that he
will be denied his rights under federal law if this matter
remains in state court. Indeed, state courts are bound to
uphold the federal constitution, and defendant has presented
no reason to doubt that the state court in this matter will
do so. Accordingly, the court concludes that defendant also
cannot remove this action to this federal court under 28
U.S.C. § 1443.
reasons set forth above, 1. This action is remanded forthwith
to the Stanislaus County Superior Court, pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c), for lack of subject matter
Clerk of the Court is ...