United States District Court, D. Arizona
DOUGLAS L. RAYES, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
the Court is Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank's motion to
remand (Doc. 8) and request for expedited hearing on motion
for remand (Doc. 21). The motion to remand is fully briefed.
(Doc. 9.) For the following reasons, Plaintiffs motion to
remand is granted.
2017, following a trustee sale, Plaintiff received a deed to
the property at 10827 South Calle Verde Road in Yuma,
Arizona. (Doc. 1-1 at 6.) On or about July 10, 2017,
Plaintiff provided Defendants Thomas and Christine Park
written notice demanding possession of the property.
(Id. at 13-14.) When Defendants did not vacate,
Plaintiff filed an action for forcible entry and detainer,
pursuant to A.R.S. § 12-1171 et seq, in Yuma County
Superior Court. (Id. at 16.) Defendants removed the
action to this Court, alleging federal question jurisdiction.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having
subject-matter jurisdiction only over those matters
specifically authorized by Congress or the Constitution.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375,
377 (1994). As the proponent of the Court's jurisdiction,
the removing defendant bears the burden of establishing it.
Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676,
685 (9th Cir. 2006). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441, any
civil action brought in state court that asserts a claim over
which federal district courts have original jurisdiction may
be removed to federal district court in the district where
the action is pending. Courts strictly construe the statute
against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc.,
980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). Indeed, there is a
"strong presumption" against removal and
"[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any
doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance."
argues that (1) there is no federal question before the Court
because forcible entry and detainer actions arise strictly
under state law and Defendants' purported federal law
defenses cannot be the basis for removal, and (2) to the
extent Defendants removed based on diversity jurisdiction,
removal is improper. The Court agrees.
courts have original jurisdiction over "all civil
actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of
the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. To determine
whether an action arises under federal law, a court applies
the "well-pleaded complaint rule." Toumajian v.
Frailey, 135 F.3d 648, 653 (9th Cir. 1998) (quotations
and citation omitted). Under this rule, a claim arises under
federal law "only when the plaintiffs well-pleaded
complaint raises issues of federal law." Id.
(quotations and citations omitted.) An answer or
counterclaim, however, cannot form the basis for removal.
Holmes Grp., Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys.,
Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831 (2002).
face, Plaintiffs complaint does not state a claim that
"arises under" federal law. Plaintiff complaint
relies solely on A.R.S. § 12-1173.01 and seeks immediate
possession of the property at issue. First Horizon Home
Loans v. Boost, No. 09-CV-1906-PHX-DGC, 2009 WL 3756523,
at *2 (D. Ariz. Nov. 9, 2009) (no federal question where a
suit is brought solely on state statutory grounds).
Defendants nonetheless argue that "[t]his is a special
circumstance where the violations of federal law have
supremacy over state claims, " citing violations of 42
U.S.C. § 1983, the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act,
the Securities Act of 1933, and a federal criminal statute.
(Doc. 9.) Although Defendants raise multiple defenses, the
assertion of a federal defense to a state-law claim does not
convert the state-law claim into one "arising
under" federal law for purposes of federal question
jurisdiction. Wells Fargo Bank v. 223 Wittmann, LLC,
No. 11-CV-00505-PHX-ROS, 2011 WL 13233438, at *2 (D. Ariz.
Mar. 31, 2003). The Court therefore lacks jurisdiction under
extent Defendants intended to invoke the Court's
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the
requirements for diversity jurisdiction are not met. In an
action which does not involve federal question jurisdiction,
removal is proper only if no defendant is a citizen of the
state where the action is brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b).
This requirement is not met here because Defendants reside in
IS ORDERED that Plaintiffs motion to remand (Doc. 8)
is GRANTED. This matter is remanded to the
Yuma County Superior Court. Plaintiffs motion seeking a
hearing on this matter (Doc. 21) is DENIED