United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
C. Coughenour United States District Judge.
matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff's motion to
remand (Dkt. No. 7). Having thoroughly considered the
parties' briefing and the relevant record, the Court
finds oral argument unnecessary and hereby GRANTS the motion
for the reasons explained herein.
January 2019, Plaintiff Rajinder Kang purchased a commercial
property located in Seattle, Washington at a trustee's
sale. (Dkt. No. 7 at 1.) Plaintiff is a citizen of Canada.
(Dkt. No. 10 at 4.) Defendant Marathon Funding Services, Inc.
(“Marathon Services”), which is owned by
Defendant Robert Crawford, previously owned the property and
leased it to Defendants Jonathan Grindell and Sophia
Bagnaschi. (Id. at 1-2.) Defendants are all
Washington state residents. (Dkt. No. 1-2 at 1-2.) After
Plaintiff purchased the property, he notified Defendants to
vacate the premises within 20 days, as required by Washington
law. (Id. at 3.) Defendants failed to comply.
(Id. at 3-4.) On April 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed a
lawsuit in King County Superior Court seeking to remove
Defendants from the property pursuant to Washington's
forcible detainer and unlawful detainer statutes. (Dkt. No.
1-2.) Defendant Crawford subsequently removed the lawsuit to
federal court, and Plaintiff moves to remand the case to King
County Superior Court for lack of subject matter
jurisdiction. (Dkt. Nos. 5, 7.)
to a civil action brought in state court may remove that
action to federal court if the federal district court would
have had original jurisdiction at the time of both
commencement of the action and removal. See 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal court has original
jurisdiction over cases that arise under federal law or where
there is complete diversity among the parties and the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331,
1332(a). Once removed, the case can be remanded for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction or defects in the removal
procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). There is a “strong
presumption” against removal, and 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). The burden is
on the moving party to demonstrate that removal is proper.
Federal Question Jurisdiction
arises under federal law if the federal issue appears on the
face of the well-pleaded complaint. Louisville &
Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908).
A well-pleaded complaint must establish either that federal
law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's
right to relief necessarily depends on the resolution of a
substantial question of federal law that is actually
disputed. Id.; Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 258
(2013). A case may not be removed on the basis of federal
question jurisdiction if the federal issue is raised as an
affirmative defense. See Caterpillar Inc. v.
Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393 (1987).
forcible detainer and unlawful detainer lawsuit does not
arise under federal law. Plaintiff's complaint does not
allege a federal cause of action and is based solely on
Washington law. (Dkt. No. 1-2.) Nor does Plaintiff's
right to relief depend on the resolution of a substantial
question of federal law. While Defendant Crawford argues in
his notice of removal that Plaintiff's complaint
implicates and violates the federal Protecting Tenants at
Foreclosure Act (“PTFA”), Plaintiff's claims
do not arise from that law. (Dkt. Nos. 1-2, 5 at 3.)
Defendant has not demonstrated that Plaintiff's right to
relief turns on the resolution of a question under the PTFA.
Instead, Defendant appears to be raising an affirmative
defense under the PTFA. (Dkt. No. 5.) But an affirmative
defense cannot provide the basis for federal question
jurisdiction. See Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393. For
the foregoing reasons, the Court does not have federal
question jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims and removal
on this basis was improper.
jurisdiction requires that the amount in controversy exceed
$75, 000 and that the parties be citizens of different
states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). However, even where both of
these requirements are met, removal on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction is barred if any party served as a defendant is
a citizen of the state in which the action is brought. 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2); Lincoln Prop. Co. v.
Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89-90 (2005). Plaintiff filed his
unlawful detainer lawsuit in King County Superior Court and
alleges that all Defendants are citizens of Washington. (Dkt.
No. 1-2 at 1-2.) Defendant Marathon Funding is a corporation
registered and located in Washington, and each of the
individual defendants are alleged to reside in King County,
Washington. (Id.) In his notice of removal,
Defendant Crawford does not challenge these allegations, and
states that he resides in Washington. (See Dkt. No.
5.) Therefore, removal was improper on the basis of diversity
jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2).
foregoing reasons, Plaintiff's motion to remand (Dkt. No.
7) is GRANTED. The Clerk is DIRECTED to remand ...