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
December 17, 2019, Defendant Darnell Card filed a Notice of
Removal with this Court, seeking to remove an action from the
Sacramento County Superior Court. Notice of Removal, ECF No.
1. For the following reasons, the Court sua sponte REMANDS
this case to Sacramento County Superior Court.
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).
Defendant attempts to invoke the Court's federal question
jurisdiction. Notice of Removal at 1-2. Defendant argues that
this Court has jurisdiction because federal law, the
Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act 2009, preempts state
law and precludes Plaintiff from evicting him. Id.
at 2-4. Federal 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).
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.”).
case, Defendant is unable to establish jurisdiction before
this Court because the complaint filed in the state court,
19-UD-05726, 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
plaintiff's complaint.”). As such, Defendant's
attempt to assert the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act
as a preemption defense to Plaintiff's unlawful detainer
action does not give rise to federal question jurisdiction
Court REMANDS this case to Sacramento County Superior Court
for all future proceedings. Defendant's motion to proceed
in forma pauperis, ECF No. 2, is DENIED as moot. ...