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Blue Rock Partners, LLC v. Guindo

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

March 6, 2017




         This matter is before the Court on Magistrate Judge Janet F. King's Final Report and Recommendation (“R&R”) [2], which recommends remanding this dispossessory action to the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On November 17, 2016, Plaintiff Blue Rock Partners, LLC, as agent of The Park at Stonehaven (“Plaintiff”) initiated a dispossessory proceeding against Defendant Aminita[1] Star Guindo (“Defendant”) in the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County, Georgia.[2] The Complaint seeks possession of premises currently occupied by Defendant and seeks past due rent, fees and costs.

         On December 13, 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 [1]. Defendant appears to assert that there is federal subject matter jurisdiction because there is in this case a question of federal law. In her Notice of Removal, Defendant claims that Plaintiff violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692, et seq. (“FDCPA”), the Fair Housing Act, 42 U.S.C. § 3631 et seq., Rule 60 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. Defendant claims further that the Court “[has] the legal duty to abort eviction pursuant to O.C.G.A. [§] 51-1-6 and 15 U.S.C. § 1692.” (Notice of Removal at 1).

         On December 14, 2016, Magistrate Judge King granted Defendant's application to proceed IFP. The Magistrate Judge then considered, sua sponte, whether there is federal subject matter jurisdiction. The Court found that federal subject matter jurisdiction was not present and recommended that the Court remand the case to the Magistrate Court of DeKalb County. The Magistrate Judge found that the Complaint filed in Magistrate Court asserts a state court dispossessory action and does not allege federal law claims. Because a federal law defense or counterclaim does not confer federal jurisdiction, the Magistrate Judge concluded that the Court does not have federal question jurisdiction over this matter. Although not alleged in her Notice of Removal, the Magistrate Judge also considered whether the Court has subject-matter jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship. The Magistrate Judge found that Defendant failed to allege any facts to show that the parties' citizenship is completely diverse, or that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. The Magistrate Judge concluded that the Court does not have diversity jurisdiction over this matter and that this case be remanded to the state court.

         On December 27, 2016, Defendant filed her Objections [5] to the R&R.


         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 (11th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 459 U.S. 1112 (1983). 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 objections have not been asserted, the Court must conduct a plain error review of the record. United States v. Slay, 714 F.2d 1093, 1095 (11th Cir. 1983), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 1050 (1984).

         Defendant's Objections are conclusory and do not address the Magistrate Judge's reasons for recommending remand.[3] See Marsden v. Moore, 847 F.2d 1536, 1548 (11th Cir. 1988) (“Parties filing objections to a magistrate's report and recommendation must specifically identify those findings objected to. Frivolous, conclusive, or general objections need not be considered by the district court.”). These are not valid objections, and the Court will not consider them. The Court reviews the R&R for plain error.

         B. Analysis

         The Magistrate Judge found that Plaintiff's Complaint does not present a federal question and that the parties are not diverse. The Court does not find any plain error in these conclusions. 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). The record also does not show that Plaintiff and Defendant are citizens of different states, or that the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory threshold of $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. Williams, Nos. 1:07-cv-2864-RWS, 1:07-cv-2865-RWS, 2008 WL 115096, at *2 (N.D.Ga. Jan. 29, 2008) (“[A] dispossessory proceeding under Georgia law is not an ownership dispute, but rather only a dispute over the limited right to possession, title to property is not at issue and, accordingly, the removing Defendant may not rely on the value of the property as a whole to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement.”).

         Because the Court lacks both federal question and diversity jurisdiction, the Magistrate Judge recommended that this action be remanded to the magistrate 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.”). Defendant ...

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