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Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC v. White

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

April 20, 2017

BAYVIEW LOAN SERVICING, LLC, Plaintiff,
v.
CALVIN R. WHITE, and All Others, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          WILLIAM S. DUFFEY, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiff Bayview Loan Servicing, LLC's (“Plaintiff” or “Bayview”) Motion to Remand [2].

         I. BACKGROUND

         On September 7, 2016, Bayview filed a dispossessory warrant (“Complaint”) against its tenant, Defendant Calvin R. White (“Defendant”) in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County, Georgia.[1] The Complaint asserts that Defendant is a tenant at sufferance following a foreclosure sale of the Property and seeks possession of premises currently occupied by Defendant.

         On September 21, 2016, Defendant filed, in the Magistrate Court of Fulton County, his “Dispossessory Answer” (“Answer”). (Notice of Removal [1] at 7).

         On September 28, 2016, Defendant removed the Fulton County Action to this Court by filing his Notice of Removal. Defendant appears to assert that there is federal subject matter jurisdiction because there is in the case a question of federal law. In his Notice of Removal, Defendant claims that Plaintiff violated “various systematic and premeditated deprivations of fundamental [r]ights guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution” and “18 U.S.C. §§ 241 and 242.” (Notice of Removal at 3). Defendant also asserts a counterclaim, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, for an alleged violation of his constitutional rights. (Id. at 1).

         On February 8, 2017, Plaintiff moved to remand the action to state court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction [2]. Plaintiff argues that remand is proper because the Complaint filed in magistrate court asserts a state court dispossessory action and does not present a question of federal law. (See [2.1] at 4). Defendant did not respond to Plaintiff's motion.

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Legal Standard

         Congress 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” to federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). When a case is removed, “the burden is on the party who sought removal to demonstrate that federal jurisdiction exists.” Kirkland v. Midland Mortg. Co., 243 F.3d 1277, 1281 n.5 (11th Cir. 2001); Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001). “[U]ncertainties are resolved in favor of remand.” Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994). Once a case is removed, “[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         A removing defendant must file with the district court a notice of removal “containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446. When a plaintiff makes a timely motion to remand, “the district court has before it only the limited universe of evidence available when the motion to remand is filed - i.e., the notice of removal and accompanying documents.” Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1213 (11th Cir. 2007).

         B. Federal-Question Jurisdiction

         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).

         Here, the record is clear that Plaintiff's state court Complaint asserts a dispossessory action and does not allege federal law claims. Defendant asserts in his Notice of Removal that removal is appropriate based on a perceived violation of his constitutional rights. Defendant argues that, because the magistrate court does not conduct jury trials, Defendant is deprived of his Seventh Amendment rights. Even if the Defendant's argument were valid, which it is not, [2] 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 ...


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