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Enger v. Garagan

United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle

September 10, 2019

GRETCHEN ENGER, Plaintiff,
v.
SVETLANA GARAGAN, et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR REMAND

          RICARDO S. MARTINEZ CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         This matter comes before the Court on Plaintiff Gretchen Enger's Motion for Remand. Dkt. #6. Plaintiff moves for immediate remand to Snohomish County Superior Court with an award for costs and fees under 28 U.S.C. §1447(c) and Rule 11 sanctions on Defendants for willful abuse of the judicial process. Id. Defendants filed an untimely opposition to Plaintiff's Motion. Dkt. #10. For the reasons below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion and REMANDS to Snohomish County Superior Court with an award of costs and fees.

         II. BACKGROUND

         This case was originally filed in Snohomish County Superior Court on April 26, 2019, and Plaintiff served the Complaint on Defendants on the same date. See Dkt. #1; Dkt. #6, Ex. C. On July 25, 2019, Defendants removed the case to this Court. Dkt. #1. Defendants attached to their Notice of Removal a purported “Counter Complaint” that alleges violations of the Washington State Deed of Trust Act and the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organization Act (“RICO”). Dkt. #1, Ex. 5. Furthermore, Defendants added numerous entities as their opposing parties: East Side Funding LLC, Aztec Foreclosure Corporation of Washington, Carrington Mortgage Services LLC, and Kaitlyn Jackson. Id.

         On August 6, 2019, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand to State Superior Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §1447(c), requesting attorneys' fees and costs and Rule 11 sanctions. Dkt. #6. Defendants filed an untimely response to Plaintiff's Motion on September 3, 2019. Dkt. #10. Because Plaintiff filed the Motion to Remand on August 6, 2019, Defendants' response was due on August 26, 2019. See LCR (7)(d)(3). Defendants' response did not meet the deadline requirements, and Defendants did not include an explanation for their delay pursuant to LCR 7(j). Therefore, the Court will not consider Defendants' untimely response.

         III. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         When a case is filed in state court, removal is typically proper if the complaint raises a federal question or where there is diversity of citizenship between the parties and an amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332(a). Typically, it is presumed “that a cause lies outside [the] limited jurisdiction [of the federal courts] and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction.'” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009). A motion to remand the case based on any defect other than lack of subject matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). An order remanding the case may require payment of just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal. Id.

         B. Federal Question Jurisdiction

         Defendants argue that federal question exists on the basis that their counterclaims include a RICO violation. Dkt. #1. Under the longstanding well-pleaded complaint rule, a suit arises under federal law only when the plaintiff's statement of their own cause of action shows that it is based upon federal law. Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908). A counterclaim does not confer federal question jurisdiction. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 59-60 (2009). Here, Plaintiff's sole cause of action is a state law action for unlawful detainer and not a federal question. Accordingly, even if Defendants had properly filed their counterclaims, there is no federal question jurisdiction in this matter.

         C. Other Bases for Federal Jurisdiction

         Defendants also appear to argue that diversity jurisdiction exists. Dkt. #1, Ex. 5 at 3. Diversity jurisdiction requires diversity of citizenship between the parties and an amount in controversy exceeding $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). A case may not be removed to federal court based on diversity if any defendant “is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). Both Mr. and Ms. Garagan are residents of Washington state. Accordingly, there is no basis for diversity jurisdiction.

         D. ...


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