United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER REMANDING CASE
L. ROBART, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter comes before the court sua sponte. Having
examined the complaint (Compl. (Dkt. # 2-1)), the notice of
removal from the Superior Court of Skagit County, Washington,
(Not. of Removal (Dkt. # 2)), the motion for temporary
restraining order (Mot. for TRO (Dkt. # 4)), and the relevant
law, the court finds that it lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over this action and remands the case to the
Piazza Realty Property Management, Inc. obo Dave and Wilma
Torretta (collectively, "Piazza"), own the premises
at 106 N. Central Avenue, Sedro Woolley, Skagit County,
Washington ("the premises"). (Compl. ¶ 1.)
Defendants Dale and Angela Matthews (collectively, "the
Matthews") have rented the premises since April 10,
2011. (Id. ¶ 2.) The Matthews failed to pay
their monthly rent of $1, 450.00 in October 2017 and November
2017, as well as the corresponding utility and late fees.
(Id. ¶¶ 3-4.) On November 28, 2017, Piazza
brought an action against the Matthews in the Skagit County
Superior Court, requesting an order of default, a writ of
restitution, and a judgment against the Matthews for unpaid
rent and fees. (See generally id.) On December 11,
2017, the Skagit County Superior Court entered the order,
writ, and judgment. (See State Ct. Order (Dkt. #
December 14, 2017, the Matthews filed a notice of removal in
this court. (See Not. of Removal.) The Matthews
claim this court has subject matter jurisdiction over the
case because the complaint presents a federal question.
(Id. ¶ 5.) The Matthews argue that the
complaint "intentionally fails to allege compliance with
the Civil Rights Act of 1968, " that "Defendant has
multiple habitability issues such as mold and the roof
leaking, " that "Defendant is a members [sic] of a
protected class of whom the statue [sic], the 'Civil
Rights Act of 1968' was created, " and that
"The Federal Cause of Action in ejectment is the basis
for this action, irrespective of artful pleading, such that
action could have been brought in Federal District
Court." (Id. ¶¶ 6, 10-11.) The notice
of removal identifies no other grounds for federal subject
matter jurisdiction. (See generally id.)
December 18, 2017, the Matthews filed a motion for temporary
restraining order. (See Mot. for TRO.) After
reviewing the complaint, the notice of removal, and the
motion for temporary restraining order, the court determined
that the Matthews had failed to provide an adequate basis for
subject matter jurisdiction over this action. (See
Order to Show Cause (Dkt # 5) at 1.) Therefore, on December
19, 2017, the court ordered the Matthews to show cause within
seven (7) days as to why the court should not remand this
matter to state court. (Id.) More than seven days
have elapsed, and the court has received no new filings from
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See e.g., Owen
Equip. & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365, 374
(1978); Rodriguez v. AT & TMobility Servs. LLC,
728 F.3d 975, 980 (9th Cir. 2013); K2 Am. Corp. v. Roland
Oil & Gas, LLC, 653 F.3d 1024, 1027 (9th Cir. 2011);
Gen. Atomic Co. v. United Nuclear Corp., 655 F.2d
968, 968 (9th Cir. 1981). In general, federal jurisdiction
exists when a claim either (1) arises under the Constitution
and laws of the United States, or (2) arises between citizens
of different states and the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000.00. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332;
see also Erwin Chemerinsky, Federal Jurisdiction
§ 5.1 (5th ed. 2001) (listing other categories of
federal subject matter jurisdiction).
civil action brought in a state court may be removed to a
federal district court if the federal district court could
have exercised original jurisdiction over the action.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1441. "A suit may be
removed to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a) only
if it could have been brought there originally."
Infuturia Global Ltd. v. Sequus Pharm., Inc., 631
F.3d 1133, 1135 n.1 (9th Cir. 2011) ("[A] federal court
must have both removal and subject matter jurisdiction to
hear a case removed from state court."); Sullivan v.
First Affiliated Sec, Inc., 813 F.2d 1368, 1371 (9th
Cir. 1987). The removal statute is strictly construed against
removal jurisdiction, and a removing party bears the burden
of establishing the existence of federal subject matter
jurisdiction. Cal. ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc.,
375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004).
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance. Duncan v.
Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996) (quoting
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
1992)); see also Carlyle Inv. Mgmt. LLC v. Moonmouth Co.
SA, 779 F.3d 214, 218 (3d Cir. 2015) ("The federal
removal statute ... is strictly construed, requiring remand
if any doubt exists over whether removal was proper");
Mumfrey v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 719 F.3d 392, 397
(5th Cir. 2013) ("Any ambiguities are construed against
removal and in favor of remand to state court");
Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252
(9th Cir. 2006); Mulcahey v. Columbia Organic Chemicals
Co., 29 F.3d 148, 151 (4th Cir. 1994); Libhart v.
Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir.
1979). If at anytime before final judgment a federal court
determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over a
removed action, the court must remand the action to state
court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
Supreme Court has repeatedly held that "in order for a
claim to arise 'under the Constitution, laws, or treaties
of the United States, ' 'a right or immunity created
by the Constitution or laws of the United States must be an
element, and an essential one, of the plaintiffs cause of
action.'" Philips Petroleum Co. v. Texaco
Inc., 415 U.S. 125, 127 (1974) (quoting Gully v.
First Nat'l Bank, 299 U.S. 109 (1936)). This
essential federal element must appear from the plaintiffs own
statement of her cause of action. Louisville
& N.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908);
see also Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal. v.
Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for S. Cal, 463 U.S. 1
(1983). Whether a complaint raises a federal question is
determined by use of the "well-pleaded complaint rule,
" which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only
when a federal question is present on the face of the
plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint. Caterpillar Inc.
v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386 (1987). Further, it must be
clear that a federal question is presented by the complaint.
Duncan, 76 F.3d at 1485. "The rule makes the
plaintiff the master of the claim; he or she may avoid
federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state
law." Caterpillar, Inc., 482 U.S. at 392.
Because Piazza's complaint does not raise a federal