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Beverick v. Chelan County

United States District Court, E.D. Washington

October 18, 2019

MICHAEL BEVERICK AND CINDY BEVERICK, husband and wife, Plaintiffs,
v.
CHELAN COUNTY, ANGEL HALLMAN AND JOHN DOE HALLMAN, husband and wife, DOE DEFENDANTS 1-10, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND

          THOMAS O. RICE CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         BEFORE THE COURT is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (ECF No. 4). This matter was submitted for consideration without oral argument. The Court has reviewed the record and files herein, and is fully informed. Briefing is completed and there is no reason to delay a ruling. For the reasons discussed below, Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (ECF No. 4) is DENIED.

         BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of Defendants' alleged unlawful actions taken in the course of enforcing alleged code violations on Plaintiffs' property. On July 19, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint in Douglas County Superior Court, bringing claims for tortious interference, violation of due process and equal protection under both the Washington State Constitution and the United States Constitution, trespass and conversion. ECF No. 1-2. On August 12, 2019, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal in this Court, asserting federal question jurisdiction. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs moved to remand the matter to state court. ECF No. 4. Defendants filed a response opposing the motion, ECF No. 5, and Plaintiffs timely responded, ECF No. 6.

         DISCUSSION

         A. Removal Standard

         Plaintiffs argue that remand is appropriate because removal of this case is discretionary. ECF No. 4 at 4.

         Title 28 United States Code Section 1441 governs removal of cases from state court to federal court. Generally, a defendant may remove a case to federal court if the federal court would have subject-matter jurisdiction over one or more of the plaintiff's claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 (federal question) or 1332 (diversity of citizenship). See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), (b). Once a case has been properly removed, a federal court must generally entertain all claims over which it has original subject-matter jurisdiction. See Quackenbush v. Allstate Ins. Co., 517 U.S. 706, 716 (1996) (noting that “federal courts have a strict duty to exercise the jurisdiction that is conferred upon them by Congress” in removal proceedings).

         Here, Defendants' Notice of Removal alleges this Court has federal question jurisdiction over Plaintiffs' federal equal protection and due process claims. ECF No. 1 at 2. “The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand concedes that the Complaint raises equal protection and due process claims under the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. ECF No. 4 at 3-4. Accordingly, the Court has federal question jurisdiction over this claim. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. This case was therefore properly removed to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         B. Request for Remand

         Despite proper removal, Plaintiffs argue this Court should remand this case because the state court is the “better choice” of venue to resolve the state law claims. ECF No. 4 at 4-7. Plaintiffs' motion is unclear as to whether Plaintiffs request that this Court abstain from exercising its federal question jurisdiction over the federal constitutional claim, or whether Plaintiffs request this Court not exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the related state law claims. Neither request is persuasive.

         1. Abstention

         “[F]ederal courts may decline to exercise their jurisdiction, in otherwise ‘“exceptional circumstances, ”' where denying a federal forum would clearly serve an important countervailing interest.” Quackenbush, 517 U.S. at 716 (citing Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 813 (1976)). Abstention “is the exception, not the rule.” Knudsen Corp. v. Nevada State Dairy Comm'n, 676 F.2d 374, 376 (9th Cir. 1982) (citation omitted). However, abstention principles do not permit a district court to dismiss or remand an action for damages. Quackenbush, 517 U.S. at 721. Because Plaintiffs' Complaint seeks money damages and not injunctive relief, abstention does not apply. ECF No. 1-2 at 10-11.

         Even if abstention could be applied in this case, the relevant factors would not weigh in favor of abstention. Abstention may be appropriate where “(1) […] the state has concentrated suits involving the local issue in a particular court; (2) the federal issues are not easily separable from complicated state law issues with which the state courts may have special competence; and (3) […] federal review might disrupt state efforts to establish a coherent policy.” Tucker v. First Maryland Sav. & Loan, Inc., 942 F.2d 1401, 1405 (9th Cir. 1991). Here, Plaintiffs argue generally that the state court is in the better position to analyze local rules and laws applicable to Plaintiffs' land use dispute. ECF No. 4 at 4-6. That the state court may resolve land use cases more frequently than this ...


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