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People v. Hoffman

United States District Court, S.D. California

December 11, 2019

THE PEOPLE OF THE STATE OF CALIFORNIA and CITY OF SAN DIEGO, a municipal corporation, Plaintiffs,
v.
JUDITH JEAN HOFFMAN, an individual; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER

          HON. WILLIAM Q. HAYES UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         The matter before the Court is Defendant's Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (ECF No. 2).

         PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 14, 2017, Plaintiffs initiated this action by filing a Complaint in the Superior Court of California for the County of San Diego, assigned case number 37-2017-00021581-CU-MC-CTL, against Defendant Judith Jean Hoffman. (ECF No. 1-3 at 1).

         On November 22, 2019, Defendant filed a Notice of Removal. (ECF No. 1). The same day, Defendant filed a Motion for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. (ECF No. 2).

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         The court has an independent duty to assess whether federal subject matter jurisdiction exists. See United Investors Life Ins. Co. v. Waddell & Reed Inc., 360 F.3d 960, 967 (9th Cir. 2004) (stating that “the district court had a duty to establish subject matter jurisdiction over the removed action sua sponte, whether the parties raised the issue or not”); accord Rains v. Criterion Sys., Inc., 80 F.3d 339, 342 (9th Cir. 1996). Because subject matter jurisdiction may not be waived by the parties, a district court must remand a removed case if it lacks jurisdiction over the matter. Kelton Arms Condominium Owners Ass'n, Inc. v. Homestead Ins. Co., 346 F.3d 1190, 1192 (9th Cir. 2003); accord Sparta Surgical Corp. v. Nat'l Ass'n of Sec. Dealers, Inc., 159 F.3d 1209, 1211 (9th Cir. 1998); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”).

         In relevant part, the federal removal statute provides:

Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of 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 of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.

28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “The defendant bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009). “The removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction, ” id., and removal jurisdiction “‘must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance'” Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2010) (quoting Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam)).

         ALLEGATIONS OF THE COMPLAINT

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendant is the equitable owner of a single-family dwelling located in San Diego, CA. (ECF No. 1-3 at 3). Plaintiffs allege that, beginning in 2008, Defendant's property has a history of state and local law violations related to nuisance and substandard housing. Id. Plaintiffs allege that, on September 21, 2016, the City Code Enforcement Division (“CED”) issued Defendant a Notice and Order to Vacate, Repair Substandard Building, and Abate Public Nuisance pursuant to California Health and Safety Code § 17980.6. Id. at 7. Plaintiffs allege that, on September 21, 2016, the City posted a copy of the Notice and Order at the property and mailed the Notice to Defendant via first class and certified mail. Id. Plaintiffs allege that City inspectors conducted compliance inspections on November 2, 2016 and April 5, 2017. Id. at 8. Plaintiffs allege that, during both inspections, inspectors observed that Defendant had not taken any action to remedy the nuisance and substandard conditions identified in the Notice and Order. Id. Plaintiffs allege that the nuisance and substandard conditions continue to exist at the property and the interior of the property remains extremely hoarded. Id. Plaintiffs allege that Defendant has not vacated the property as required in the Notice and order. Id. Plaintiffs allege that on, April 21, 2017, the City served notice of its intent to seek the appointment of a receiver for the property on all parties with a recorded interest in the property. Id. Plaintiffs allege that, on April 25, 2017, a City Attorney Investigator personally delivered a written notice to Hoffman regarding the City's intent to seek a receivership. Id.

         Plaintiffs bring the following three causes of action: (1) appointment of a receiver pursuant to California Health & Safety Code § 17980.7(c); (2) maintenance of a public nuisance in violation of California Civil Code §§ 3479 and 3480; and (3) violations of the San Diego Municipal Code and California Building Code. (ECF No. 1-3). Plaintiffs seek appointment of a receiver, injunctive relief, costs, and fees. Id. at 16-19.

         CONTENTIONS OF THE ...


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