Community Fund LLC v. Clayton

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-01814


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1 2 3 4 5 6 IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 7 FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 8 9 COMMUNITY FUND LLC, 10 Plaintiff, No. C 15-01814 JSW 11 v. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 12 GLORIA Y. CLAYTON, ORDER ADOPTING REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION AND 13 Defendant. REMANDING ACTION / 14 15 On April 22, 2015, Defendant Gloria Y. Clayton, proceeding pro se, filed a notice of 16 removal and an application to proceed in forma pauperis. Without consent, on April 28, 2015, 17 this matter was reassigned to the undersigned from Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Scott Corley 18 with a Report and Recommendation to remand this action. Defendant, as the party seeking 19 removal, bears the burden of demonstrating subject matter jurisdiction. Defendant was given an 20 opportunity to demonstrate the existence of subject matter jurisdiction, but has failed to do so. 21 For the reasons set forth in the remainder of this Order, the Court HEREBY REMANDS this 22 action to the Contra Costa County Superior Court. 23 On February 26, 2015, Plaintiff filed a complaint for unlawful detainer in Contra Costa 24 County Superior Court against Defendant (the "State Court action"). (See Notice of Removal.) 25 Defendant removed the State Court action on the basis that jurisdiction is premised upon a 26 federal question. (See Notice of Removal.) "[A]ny civil action brought in a State court of 27 which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the 28 1 defendant ... to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the 2 place where such action is pending." Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 3 463 U.S. 1, 7-8 (1983) (citation omitted); see also 28 U.S.C. § 1441. 4 However, federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See, e.g., Kokkonen v. 5 Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). Accordingly, the burden of 6 establishing federal jurisdiction for purposes of removal is on the party seeking removal, and 7 the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction. Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 8 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004); see also Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 9 1992). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in 10 the first instance." Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566. 11 "The presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the 'well- United States District Court For the Northern District of California 12 pleaded complaint rule.'" Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 382, 392 (1987). The well- 13 pleaded complaint rule recognizes that the plaintiff is the master of his or her claim. "[H]e or 14 she may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state law." Id. Thus, under the 15 well-pleaded complaint rule, federal-question jurisdiction arises where the "complaint 16 establishes either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right to relief 17 necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law." Franchise Tax Bd., 18 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983). 19 The State Court action is an unlawful detainer action which is purely a creature of 20 California law. Thus, federal law does not create the cause of action. Wells Fargo Bank v. 21 Lapeen, 2011 WL 2194117, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 6, 2011); Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, 22 2010 WL 4916578, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2010). Moreover, the Court concludes that the 23 claim will not necessarily depend upon the resolution of a substantial question of federal law, 24 because Plaintiff need not prove compliance with the federal law relied upon by Defendant to 25 establish its claim. See, e.g., Grable & Sons Metal Prods. v. Darue Eng. & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 26 314-15 (2005). 27 Furthermore, a court cannot exercise removal jurisdiction on the ground that the 28 complaint gives rise to a potential or an anticipated defense that might raise a federal question, 2 1 even if the defense is the only question truly at issue in the case. Franchise Tax Board, 463 2 U.S. at 10, 14; see also Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393 ("[I]t is now settled law that a case may not 3 be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense, including the defense of pre- 4 emption, even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint, and even if both parties 5 concede that the federal defense is the only question truly at issue.") (emphasis in original). 6 Therefore, the Court finds that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear this matter and must 7 remand to the state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); see also Maniar v. FDIC, 979 F.2d 782, 8 785 (9th Cir. 1992). 9 Accordingly, the Court ADOPTS the Report and Recommendation and REMANDS this 10 case to Superior Court of the State of California for the County of Contra Costa. The Clerk 11 shall transfer the file forthwith. United States District Court For the Northern District of California 12 IT IS SO ORDERED. 13 14 Dated: May 27, 2015 JEFFREY S. WHITE 15 UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 3