United States District Court, W.D. Washington
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
S. Lasnik United States District Judge
On April 20, 2017, this matter was removed from state court
based on both federal question and diversity jurisdiction.
Plaintiff filed this action in Snohomish County Superior
Court asserting claims arising out of a lawsuit defendant
filed to recover a debt. Plaintiff alleges that Midland
Funding, LLC, sued him approximately five years ago on a debt
he does not owe. He further alleges that Midland Funding has
no evidence of the alleged debt, has no standing to pursue
the claim, failed to validly serve, filed outside the statute
of limitations, and engaged in fraud on the court. Dkt. # 1-1
at 3-6. Plaintiff seeks the entry of judgment in the amount
of “$60, 000 in damages, to include legal expenses,
harassment [sic], hardship, mental stress, credit damages, to
include 12% interest until paid in Full”. Dkt. # 1-1 at
defendant in state court generally has the right to remove
the case to federal court only if the case could have been
filed originally in federal court (i.e., on federal
diversity or federal question grounds). See 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b). The general removal statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441, is construed restrictively: any doubts regarding
the removability of a case will be resolved in favor of
remanding the matter to state court. See, e.g.,
Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S.
100, 108-09 (1941); Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp.,
445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006). Defendant has the burden
of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that removal is
appropriate under the statute. Hunter v. Philip Morris
USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009). It has not met
Funding asserts that because plaintiff has identified it as a
“third party debt collector, ” he must be
asserting a claim under the Fair Debt Collections Practices
Act (“FDCPA”), 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et
seq. The question of whether a claim arises under
federal law for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1331 must be
determined by reference to the complaint. Mere mention of a
federal statute, much less the mention of a phrase that bears
some resemblance to a federal statute, is not “a
password opening federal courts . . . .” Grable
& Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g &
Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314 (2005). Rather, federal law must
create the cause of action or plaintiff's right to relief
must depend on the resolution of a substantial question of
federal law. Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers
Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 27-28 (1983).
has not specifically identified the cause or causes of action
he is asserting, but the facts alleged are more consistent
with state malicious prosecution, fraud on the court, and/or
consumer protection act claims than a claim under the FDCPA.
A finding that defendants violated federal law would not be
essential to any of these claims, and the Court will not
assume that plaintiff is artfully pleading around a federal
cause of action when there are legitimate and obvious state
claims that address his situation. Defendant has not,
therefore, shown that plaintiff's claims or right to
relief necessarily depend on resolution of a question of
regards to diversity jurisdiction, the citizenship of a
limited liability company is determined by the citizenship of
its owners/members. See Johnson v. Columbia Props.
Anchorage, LP, 437 F.3d 894, 899 (9th Cir. 2006)
(holding that “like a partnership, an LLC is a citizen
of every state of which its owners/members are
citizens”). Midland Funding is therefore a citizen of
Delaware, and diversity has been established. Midland has
not, however, shown that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000. In removed diversity cases where there is a dispute
regarding the amount in controversy, “the defendant
bears the burden of actually proving the facts to support
jurisdiction, including jurisdictional amount.”
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566-67 (9th Cir.
1992). Here, plaintiff specifically seeks
judgment in the amount of $60, 000, inclusive of
attorney's fees. Defendant has not “provide[d]
evidence establishing that it is more likely than not that
the amount in controversy exceeds” $75, 000.
Guglielmino v. McKee Foods Corp., 506 F.3d 696, 699
(9th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks omitted).
is hereby ORDERED TO SHOW CAUSE why this action should not be
remanded for lack of federal jurisdiction. The Clerk of Court
is directed to note this show cause proceeding on the
Court's calendar for May 5, 2017. Defendant's
response is due on or before the note date.
 The artful pleading doctrine prevents
a plaintiff from avoiding federal jurisdiction by
“omitting from the complaint federal law essential to
his claim, or by casting in state law terms a claim that can
be made only under federal law.” Olguin v.
Inspiration Consol. Copper Co., 740 F.2nd 1468, 1472
(9th Cir. 1984).
 Defendant relies on a “legal
certainty” test that has been rejected in these
circumstances because it “would force the federal court
to exercise jurisdiction even if there was only a legal
possibility that the amount in controversy exceeded”
$75, 000. Sanchez v. ...