The Bank of New York Mellon v. Clarke et al

Northern District of California, cand-4:2015-cv-02400


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1 2 3 4 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 5 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 6 THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, 7 Case No. 15-cv-02400-MEJ Plaintiff, 8 ORDER FOR CLERK OF COURT TO v. REASSIGN CASE WITH 9 RECOMMENDATION FOR REMAND JEFF P. CLARKE, et al., 10 Defendants. 11 12 Northern District of California United States District Court 13 INTRODUCTION 14 On May 29, 2015, Defendant Jeff P. Clarke removed this unlawful detainer action from 15 Sonoma County Superior Court. However, an unlawful detainer action does not arise under 16 federal law but is purely a creature of California law. Thus, as Defendant did not yet consent to 17 magistrate judge jurisdiction, the Court ORDERS the Clerk of Court to reassign this case to a 18 district judge with the recommendation that the case be remanded to Sonoma County Superior 19 Court. 20 LEGAL STANDARD 21 Subject matter jurisdiction is fundamental and cannot be waived. Billingsly v. C.I.R., 868 22 F.2d 1081, 1085 (9th Cir. 1989). Federal courts can adjudicate only those cases which the 23 Constitution and Congress authorize them to adjudicate – those involving diversity of citizenship 24 or a federal question, or those to which the United States is a party. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life 25 Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994); see also Chen-Cheng Wang ex rel. United States v. 26 FMC Corp., 975 F.2d 1412, 1415 (9th Cir. 1992) (federal courts have no power to consider claims 27 for which they lack subject-matter jurisdiction). 28 Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), "any civil action brought in a State court of which the 1 district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or 2 the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the 3 place where such action is pending." However, the removal statutes are construed restrictively so 4 as to limit removal jurisdiction. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 5 (1941); see also Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). 6 The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction for purposes of removal is on the party seeking 7 removal. Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004). The district court must 8 remand the case if it appears before final judgment that the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 9 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Albingia Versicherungs A.G. v. Schenker Int'l, Inc., 344 F.3d 931, 936 (9th 10 Cir. 2003). 11 Subject matter jurisdiction is determined from the face of the complaint. Toumajian v. 12 Frailey, 135 F.3d 648, 653 n.2 (9th Cir. 1998) ("[f]or removal to be appropriate, a federal question Northern District of California United States District Court 13 must appear on the face of the complaint"); see also Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 14 392 (1987) (federal question must be presented on face of plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint); 15 Fifty Assocs. v. Prudential Ins. Co. of Am., 446 F.2d 1187, 1189-90 (9th Cir. 1970) (existence of 16 diversity jurisdiction must be sufficient on the face of the complaint). Jurisdiction may not be 17 based on a claim raised as a defense or a counterclaim. K2 Am. Corp. v. Roland Oil & Gas, LLC, 18 653 F.3d 1024, 1029 (9th Cir. 2011). 19 DISCUSSION 20 Here, the face of the Complaint, which asserts only one state law claim for unlawful 21 detainer, does not provide any ground for removal. An unlawful detainer action, on its face, does 22 not arise under federal law but is purely a creature of California law. Wells Fargo Bank v. Lapeen, 23 2011 WL 2194117, at *3 (N.D. Cal. June 6, 2011); Wescom Credit Union v. Dudley, 2010 WL 24 4916578, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 22, 2010). 25 Further, even if Defendants alleged diversity jurisdiction, Plaintiff brought this action in 26 California, as the property at issue is located in the state. Where diversity is cited as a basis for 27 jurisdiction, removal is not permitted if a defendant in the case is a citizen of the state in which the 28 plaintiff originally brought the action, even if the opposing parties are diverse. 28 U.S.C. § 2 1 1441(b); Homesales, Inc. v. Amora, 2012 WL 2061923, at * 1 (N.D. Cal. June 5, 2012) (citing 28 2 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2) (stating that a civil action "removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction 3 under section 1332(a) . . . may not be removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and 4 served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought"); Lincoln Prop. Co. 5 v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005)) (granting plaintiff's motion to remand unlawful detainer case 6 removed by defendants because, inter alia, defendants were California citizens and action had 7 originally been brought in California state court). 8 Moreover, the amount in controversy requirement does not appear to be met because the 9 damages claim in this case is under $10,000. In unlawful detainer actions, the amount of damages 10 sought in the complaint, not the value of the subject real property, determines the amount in 11 controversy, and, pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure section 86(a)(4), an unlawful 12 detainer is a limited civil action where the "whole amount of damages claimed" must be "twenty- Northern District of California United States District Court 13 five thousand dollars ($25,000) or less." Cal. Civ. Pro. § 86(a)(4). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), a 14 district court has original jurisdiction over civil actions only where the amount in controversy, 15 exclusive of interest and costs, exceeds $75,000. Thus, even where an unlawful detainer action 16 involves foreclosure on a mortgage that exceeds $75,000, the amount of the mortgage does not 17 satisfy the amount in controversy requirement. Deutsche Bank Nat'l Trust v. Heredia, 2012 WL 18 4747157, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Oct. 3, 2012) (holding, inter alia, that the amount in controversy 19 requirement was not met even where the mortgage was valued at over $75,000 as per Deed of 20 Trust). 21 Finally, an anticipated federal defense or counterclaim is not sufficient to confer 22 jurisdiction. Franchise Tax Bd. of Ca. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 10 (1983); 23 Berg v. Leason, 32 F.3d 422, 426 (9th Cir. 1994). "A case may not be removed to federal court on 24 the basis of a federal defense, . . . even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint." 25 ARCO Envtl. Remediation, LLC v. Dept. of Health and Envtl. Quality of the State of Montana, 213 26 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir. 2000); see also Valles v. Ivy Hill Corp., 410 F.3d 1071, 1075 (9th Cir. 27 2005) ("A federal law defense to a state-law claim does not confer jurisdiction on a federal court, 28 even if the defense is that of federal preemption and is anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint."). 3 1 Thus, any anticipated defense, such as a claim under the Protecting Tenants at Foreclosure Act, 2 Pub.L. No. 111–22, § 702, 123 Stat. 1632 (2009), is not a valid ground for removal. See e.g. 3 Aurora Loan Serv., LLC v. Montoya, 2011 WL 5508926, at *4 (E.D. Cal. Nov. 9, 2011); SD 4 Coastline LP v. Buck, 2010 WL 4809661, at *2-3 (S.D. Cal. Nov.19, 2010); Wescom, 2010 WL 5 4916578, at 2–3; Aurora Loan Serv., LLC v. Martinez, 2010 WL 1266887, at * 1 (N.D. Cal. 6 March 29, 2010). 7 CONCLUSION 8 As jurisdiction over this unlawful detainer action is lacking, the undersigned finds that 9 remand is appropriate. Accordingly, the Court ORDERS the Clerk of Court to reassign this case 10 to a district judge with the recommendation that the case be remanded to Sonoma County Superior 11 Court. 12 Pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 72, any party may serve and file objections to Northern District of California United States District Court 13 this report and recommendation within 14 days after being served with a copy. 14 IT IS SO ORDERED AND RECOMMENDED. 15 16 Dated: June 2, 2015 17 ______________________________________ MARIA-ELENA JAMES 18 United States Magistrate Judge 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 4 1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 2 NORTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 3 THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, 4 Case No. 15-cv-02400-MEJ Plaintiff, 5 v. CERTIFICATE OF SERVICE 6 JEFF P. CLARKE, et al., 7 Defendants. 8 9 I, the undersigned, hereby certify that I am an employee in the Office of the Clerk, U.S. 10 District Court, Northern District of California. 11 12 Northern District of California That on June 2, 2015, I SERVED a true and correct copy(ies) of the attached, by placing United States District Court 13 said copy(ies) in a postage paid envelope addressed to the person(s) hereinafter listed, by 14 depositing said envelope in the U.S. Mail, or by placing said copy(ies) into an inter-office delivery 15 receptacle located in the Clerk's office. 16 17 Jeff P. Clarke 2717 Creekside Rd. 18 Santa Rosa, CA 95405 19 20 Dated: June 2, 2015 21 22 Richard W. Wieking Clerk, United States District Court 23 24 25 By:________________________ Chris Nathan, Deputy Clerk to the 26 Honorable MARIA-ELENA JAMES 27 28 5