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Greenbriar Group, LLC v. Betts

United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division

September 19, 2014

GREENBRIAR GROUP, LLC, doing business as GREENBRIAR MILLS TOWNHOMES, Plaintiff,
v.
ELISHA BETTS AND ALL OTHER OCCUPANTS, Defendant.

OPINION AND ORDER

WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson's Final Report and Recommendation [3] ("R&R"), which recommends remanding this dispossessory action to the Magistrate Court of Fulton County, Georgia.

I. BACKGROUND

On June 6, 2014, Plaintiff Greenbriar Group LLC ("Plaintiff") initiated a dispossessory proceeding against its tenant, Defendant Elisha Betts ("Defendant") in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County, Georgia.[1] The Complaint seeks possession of premises currently occupied by Defendant. Plaintiff also seeks past due rent, late fees, and administrative fees totaling $1, 998.

On June 25, 2014, Defendant, proceeding pro se, removed the Fulton County action to this Court by filing her Notice of Removal and an application to proceed in forma pauperis ("IFP") [1]. Defendant appears to assert that there is federal subject-matter jurisdiction based on the existence of a question of federal law. She claims in her Notice of Removal that "Respondent" "[has] a legal duty to abort eviction pursuant to O.C.G.A. [§] 51-1-6, " and that it also violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq. ("FDCPA"), Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, "28 USC 1367, " "28 USC 1446(D) [sic], " and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. (Notice of Removal at 2-3).

On July 3, 2014, Magistrate Judge Johnson granted Defendant's application to proceed IFP. Judge Johnson also considered sua sponte the question of subject matter jurisdiction and recommends that the Court remand this case to the Magistrate Court of Fulton County.

Judge Johnson found that Plaintiff's underlying pleading is entirely based on state law. Noting that a federal law defense or counterclaim alone is not sufficient to confer federal jurisdiction, Judge Johnson concluded that the Court does not have federal question jurisdiction over this matter.[2]

There are no objections to the R&R.

II. DISCUSSION

A. Legal Standard

After conducting a careful and complete review of the findings and recommendations, a district judge may accept, reject, or modify a magistrate judge's report and recommendation. 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Williams v. Wainwright , 681 F.2d 732, 732 (11th Cir. 1982) (per curiam). A district judge "shall make a de novo determination of those portions of the report or specified proposed findings or recommendations to which objection is made." 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1). With respect to those findings and recommendations to which a party has not asserted objections, the Court must conduct a plain error review of the record. United States v. Slay , 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983) (per curiam).

B. Analysis

Defendant does not object to the R&R's conclusions that Plaintiff's Complaint does not present a federal question. The Court does not find any error in this conclusion.

It is well-settled that federal-question jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of a plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint, and that the assertions of defenses or counterclaims based on federal law cannot confer federal question jurisdiction over a cause of action. See Beneficial Nat'l Bank v. Anderson , 539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003); Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Sys., Inc. , 535 U.S. 826, 830-32 (2002).[3]

Because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, this action is required to be remanded to the state court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) ("If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.").[4]

III. CONCLUSION

For the foregoing reasons,

IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Magistrate Judge Walter E. Johnson's Final Report and Recommendation [3] is ADOPTED. This action is REMANDED to the Magistrate Court of Fulton County, Georgia.

SO ORDERED.


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