United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Statesboro Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
se defendant Aleta Covington has filed a Notice of
Removal of a dispossessory action against her in the
Magistrate Court of Bulloch County, Georgia. Doc. 1. She also
seeks leave to proceed in forma pauperis. See doc.
2. For jurisdictional purposes only, the Court
GRANTS her motion. Theresa Gondolfo filed a
dispossessory action against Covington for failure to pay
rent. See doc. 1 at 8. Covington contends that this
Court has jurisdiction, supporting removal from the state
court, because the Complaint "fails to allege compliance
with the Civil Rights Act of 1968[, and] Defendant is African
American and Plaintiff is Caucasian and Defendant maintains
there is a discrimination issue." Id. at 2.
party removing an action bears the burden of establishing
federal jurisdiction. See, e.g., Mitchell v. Brown &
Williamson Tobacco Corp., 294 F.3d 1309, 1314 (11th Cir.
2002). Removal jurisdiction is narrowly construed, with all
doubts resolved in favor of remand. See Mann v. Unum Life
Ins. Co. of Am., 505 Fed.Appx. 854, 856 (11th Cir.
2013); see also Vulcan Steel Structures, Inc. v.
Murphy, 2015 WL 13413348 at * 2 (M.D. Ga. Aug. 4, 2015).
"Absent diversity of citizenship, federal-question
jurisdiction is required, " and its "presence or
absence ... 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
plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint."Caterpillar,
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). A plaintiff
"may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on
state law." Id. (citing, inter alia,
Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 809
n. 6 (1986) ("Jurisdiction may not be sustained on a
theory that the plaintiff has not advanced.")). The
Magistrate Court filings that Covington has attached to her
Notice of Removal state only that the plaintiff/landlord
demands past-due rent and late fees. See doc. 1 at
7-8. Landlord-tenant disputes about rent are generally
matters of state law. See Am. Homes 4 Rent Props. Eight,
LLC ISAOA v. Green, 2015 WL 5043222 at * 2 (S.D. Ga.
Aug. 25, 2015) (remanding removed dispossessory action
despite allegation of violation of three specific federal
provisions, because those "claims were not present on
the face of Plaintiffs complaint and thus cannot be
considered for purposes of federal question
jurisdiction.") (citing Nguyen v. Hinton, 2015
WL 3407856 at * 2 (N.D.Ga. May 26, 2015) (stating that a
dispossessory action is "fundamentally a matter of state
law"); Citimortgage, Inc. v. Dhinoja, 705
F.Supp.2d 1378, 1381 (N.D.Ga. 2010) (a dispossessory claim is
"exclusively a matter of state law")).
invocation of the Civil Rights Act of 1968 and her conclusory
assertion of "discrimination, " based on nothing
more than the fact that she and her landlord are not the same
race, are insufficient to support removal. This case should,
therefore, be REMANDED to the Magistrate
Court of Bulloch County, Georgia. Since this case should be
remanded, Gondolfo's dismissal motion (doc. 5) should be
DENIED as moot.
Report and Recommendation (R&R) is submitted to the
district judge assigned to this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 636(b)(1)(B) and this Court's Local Rule 72.3.
Within 14 days of service, any party may file written
objections to this R&R with the Court and serve a copy on
all parties. The document should be captioned
"Objections to Magistrate Judge's Report and
Recommendations." Any request for additional time to
file objections should be filed with the Clerk for
consideration by the assigned district judge.
the objections period has ended, the Clerk shall submit this
R&R together with any objections to the assigned district
judge. The district judge will review the magistrate
judge's findings and recommendations pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(C). The parties are advised that
failure to timely file objections will result in the waiver
of rights on appeal. 11th Cir. R. 3-1; see Symonett v.
V.A. Leasing Corp., 648 Fed.Appx. 787, 790 (11th Cir.
2016); Mitchell v. United States, 612 Fed.Appx. 542,
545 (11th Cir. 2015).
REPORTED AND RECOMMENDED.
 Although the parties may reside in
different states, see doc. 1 at 7 (listing
Gondolfo's address as a P.O. box in California and
Covington's address in Statesboro, Georgia), the amount
in controversy is clearly below the jurisdictional threshold
for diversity jurisdiction. See Id. (listing amount
of past-due rent and late fees totaling $700); 28 U.S.C.
§ 13312(a) (requiring amount in controversy to exceed
$75, 000 to establish federal jurisdiction based on diversity
Covington does cite several cases in her Notice of Removal.
See doc. 1 at 2-3. Even assuming that the Court
accepted the cited cases from the United States Court of
Appeals for the Ninth Circuit as persuasive authority,
neither they nor the United States Supreme Court cases cited