United States District Court, C.D. California
Present: The Honorable Fernando M. Olguin, United States
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(In Chambers) Order Remanding Action
October 13, 2018, plaintiff Virginia Murguia
(“plaintiff') filed a Verified Complaint in the Los
Angeles County Superior Court against Jacquelyn Hernandez
(“Hernandez”), Craig Darling
(“Darling”) and Law Office of Craig A. Darling
(“Law Office”) asserting state-law claims.
(See Dkt. 1, Notice of Removal (“NOR”)
at ECF 11-27 (Complaint)). On October 18, 2019, Hernandez
removed the action on federal question and diversity
jurisdiction grounds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331
and 1332. (See Dkt. 1, NOR).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only
that power authorized by Constitution and statute[.]”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 1675 (1994). The courts are
presumed to lack jurisdiction unless the contrary appears
affirmatively from the record. See DaimlerChrysler Corp.
v. Cuno, 547 U.S. 332, 342 n. 3, 126 S.Ct. 1854, 1861
(2006). Federal courts have a duty to examine jurisdiction
sua sponte before proceeding to the merits of a
case, see Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S.
574, 583, 119 S.Ct. 1563, 1569 (1999), “even in the
absence of a challenge from any party.” Arbaugh v.
Y&H Corp., 546 U.S. 500, 514, 126 S.Ct. 1235, 1244
right of removal is entirely a creature of statute and a suit
commenced in a state court must remain there until cause is
shown for its transfer under some act of Congress.”
Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S.
28, 32, 123 S.Ct. 366, 369 (2002) (internal quotation marks
omitted). Where Congress has acted to create a right of
removal, those statutes, unless otherwise stated, are
strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. See
id. Unless otherwise expressly provided by Congress,
“any 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[.]” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a); see Dennis v. Hart, 724 F.3d 1249, 1252
(9th Cir. 2013) (same). A removing defendant bears the burden
of establishing that removal is proper. See Abrego Abrego
v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 684 (9th Cir. 2006)
(per curiam) (noting the “longstanding,
near-canonical rule that the burden on removal rests with the
removing defendant”); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980
F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (“The strong presumption
against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always
has the burden of establishing that removal is
proper.”) (internal quotation marks omitted). Moreover,
if there is any doubt regarding the existence of subject
matter jurisdiction, the court must resolve those doubts in
favor of remanding the action to state court. See
Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566 (“Federal jurisdiction must
be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal
in the first instance.”).
the plain terms of § 1441(a), in order properly to
remove [an] action pursuant to that provision, [the removing
defendants] must demonstrate that original subject-matter
jurisdiction lies in the federal courts.” Syngenta
Crop Protection, 537 U.S. at 33, 123 S.Ct. at 370.
Failure to do so requires that the case be remanded, as
“[s]ubject matter jurisdiction may not be waived, and.
. . the district court must remand if it lacks
jurisdiction.” Kelton Arms Condo. Owners Ass'n,
Inc. v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th
Cir. 2003). Indeed, “[i]f 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); see Emrich v. Touche Ross &
Co., 846 F.2d 1190, 1194 n. 2 (9th Cir. 1988) (“It
is elementary that the subject matter jurisdiction of the
district court is not a waivable matter and may be raised at
anytime by one of the parties, by motion or in the responsive
pleadings, or sua sponte by the trial or reviewing
court.”); Washington v. United Parcel Serv.,
Inc., 2009 WL 1519894, *1 (C.D. Cal. 2009) (a district
court may remand an action where the court finds that it
lacks subject matter jurisdiction either by motion or sua
court's review of the NOR and the attached state court
Complaint makes clear that this court does not have subject
matter jurisdiction over the instant matter. In other words,
plaintiff could not have originally brought this action in
federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction or
federal question jurisdiction. Therefore, removal was
improper. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a);
Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392,
107 S.Ct. 2425, 2429 (1987) (“Only state-court actions
that originally could have been filed in federal court may be
removed to federal court by the defendant.”) (footnote
purposes of removal based on federal question jurisdiction,
the well-pleaded complaint rule “provides that federal
jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented
on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Smallwood v. Allied Van Lines,
Inc., 660 F.3d 1115, 1120 (9th Cir. 2011) (quoting
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392, 107 S.Ct. at 2429).
“As the master of the complaint, a plaintiff may defeat
removal by choosing not to plead independent federal
claims.” ARCO Envt'l Remediation, L.L.C. v.
Dep't of Health & Envt'l Quality of Montana,
213 F.3d 1108, 1114 (9th Cir. 2000). Here, the state-court
complaint discloses no federal statutory or constitutional
question that would support federal question jurisdiction.
(See, generally, Dkt. 1 (Complaint).
Hernandez's Notice of Removal is difficult to follow, it
appears that she relies on purported constitutional defenses
as the basis for federal question jurisdiction. (See
Dkt. NOR at ¶ 3). However, it is well-settled that a
“case may not be removed to federal court on
the basis of a federal defense . . . even if the defense is
anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint, and even if
both parties concede that the federal defense is the only
question truly at issue.” Caterpillar, 482
U.S. at 393, 107 S.Ct. at 2430; see also Franchise Tax
Bd. of the State of California v. Construction Laborers
Vacation Trust for Southern California, 463 U.S. 1,
27-28, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 2856 (1983), superseded by statute
on other grounds, as recognized in DB Healthcare,
LLC v. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Arizona, Inc., 2017 WL
1075050, *4 (9th Cir. 2017) (“Congress has given the
lower federal courts jurisdiction to hear, originally or by
removal from state court, only those cases in which a
well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal law
creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right
to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial
question of federal law.”).
unclear, to the extent Hernandez is attempting to invoke the
court's diversity jurisdiction, (see Dkt. 1, NOR
at p. 5), it too fails. When federal subject matter
jurisdiction is predicated on diversity of citizenship,
see 28 U.S.C. 1332(a), complete diversity must exist
between the opposing parties. See Caterpillar Inc. v.
Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68, 117 S.Ct. 467, 472 (1996)
(stating that the diversity jurisdiction statute
“applies only to cases in which the citizenship of each
plaintiff is diverse from the citizenship of each
defendant”). Here, Hernandez has failed to establish
complete diversity of citizenship. (See,
generally, Dkt. 1, NOR). Moreover, the Complaint
indicates that all parties are citizens of California.
(See Dkt 1, Complaint).
short, given that any doubt regarding the existence of
subject matter jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of
remanding the action to state court, see Gaus, 980
F.2d at 566, the court is not persuaded, under the
circumstances here, that Hernandez has met her burden.
Therefore, there is no basis for federal question
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
order is not intended . Nor is it intended to be included in
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on the foregoing, ...