United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
WOODLAND RAM PARTNERS a/a/f WOODLAND HILLS APTS., as agent of PDQ SERVICES, INC., Plaintiff,
JAMILLA MASON, Defendant.
OPINION AND ORDER
WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on Defendant Jamilla Mason's
(“Defendant”) Notice of Removal .
November 17, 2016, Plaintiff Woodland RAM Partners, LLC a/a/f
Woodland Hills Apartments., as agent of PDQ Services, Inc.
(“Plaintiff”) initiated a dispossessory
proceeding against Defendant in the Magistrate Court of
DeKalb County, Georgia. The Complaint seeks possession of
premises currently occupied by Defendant, and past due rent
December 27, 2016, Defendant, proceeding pro se,
removed the DeKalb County Action to this Court by filing her
Notice of Removal and an application to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”). Defendant claims in her
Notice of Removal that “Respondent” violated the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692
et seq. (“FDCPA”) and Rule 60 of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, “having a legal duty
to abort eviction pursuant to O.C.G.A. 51-1-6 [sic], ”
and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
(Notice of Removal at 1-2).
December 28, 2016, Magistrate Judge Justin S. Anand granted
Defendant's IFP application and directed the Clerk of
Court to submit this action to the Court for a frivolity
Court first considers whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action.
Eleventh Circuit has consistently held that “a court
should inquire into whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in the
proceedings. Indeed, it is well settled that a federal court
is obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction
sua sponte whenever it may be lacking.”
Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405,
410 (11th Cir. 1999). “[O]nce a federal court
determines that it is without subject matter jurisdiction,
the court is powerless to continue.” Id.
has provided that “any civil action brought in a State
court of which the district courts of the United States have
original jurisdiction, may be removed by the
defendant.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Removal in this
case appears to be based on federal-question jurisdiction,
which extends to “all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. “The presence or absence of
federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the
‘well-pleaded complaint rule, ' which provides that
federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is
presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Thus, a federal cause of action within
a counterclaim or a federal defense is not a basis for
removal jurisdiction. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556
U.S. 49, 59-61 (2009).
Complaint is a dispossessory action which is based solely on
state law. No federal question is presented on the face of
Plaintiff's Complaint. That Defendant asserts defenses or
counterclaims based on federal law cannot confer federal
subject-matter jurisdiction over this 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). Removal is not
proper based on federal question jurisdiction.
Court's jurisdiction in this action also cannot be based
on diversity of citizenship, which extends to “all
civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum
or value of $75, 000, ” and is between “citizens
of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1), (2).
It appears that the parties are both Georgia citizens,
even if diversity does exist, Defendant fails to show that
the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. The Court must
look only to Plaintiff's claim to determine if the
amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied. See,
e.g., Novastar Mortg. Inc. v. Bennett, 173
F.Supp.2d 1358, 1361 (N.D.Ga. 2001), aff'd, 35
F. App'x 585 (11th Cir. 2002). The Complaint here seeks
possession of premises currently possessed by Defendant and
past due rent and fees. It is well-settled that “a
claim seeking only ejectment in a dispossessory action cannot
be reduced to a monetary sum for purposes of determining the
amount in controversy.” Bennett, 173 F.Supp.2d
at 1361-1362; see also Citimortgage, Inc. v.
Dhinoja, 705 F.Supp.2d 1378, 1382 (N.D.Ga. 2010). The
amount-in-controversy requirement is not satisfied and
removal is not proper based on diversity of citizenship.
the Court lacks both federal question and diversity
jurisdiction, this action is required to be remanded to 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