United States District Court, S.D. Georgia, Augusta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
K. EFPS UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Deoraj and Hemraj Deoraj, proceeding pro se, seek to
remove to this Court a dispossessory action filed by
Plaintiff in the Magistrate Court of Richmond County,
Georgia. For the reasons set forth below, the Court finds it
lacks subject matter jurisdiction and REPORTS and RECOMMENDS
the motion to proceed in forma pauperis
(“IFP”) and the motion to strike be DENIED as
MOOT, (doc. nos. 2, 3), the case be REMANDED to the
Magistrate Court of Richmond County, and the above-captioned
civil action be CLOSED in this Court.
filed a dispossessory action in the Magistrate Court of
Richmond County, Civil Action File Number 904689, against
Defendants and “All others: *Bro T. Hesed-El*, ”
and the case was scheduled for trial on September 13, 2017.
(Doc. no. 1, p. 6.) The trial notice warned failing to appear
could result in judgment against Defendants. (Id.)
On September 14, 2017, the Magistrate Court of Richmond
County entered a Judgment and Writ of Possession against
Defendants and “All Others Including Bro T.
Hesed-El.” (Id. at 7.)
November 1, 2017, the Clerk of Court accepted for filing a
Notice of Removal, motion for leave to proceed IFP, and
motion to strike, and opened this case on the Court's
docket even though none of the papers were signed by Doris E
Deoraj or Hemraj Deoraj. The papers were accepted and filed
without notation of deficiency, despite the facial
non-compliance with Local Rule 11.1 and Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 11(a), which require at least one attorney of
record or the signature of pro se litigants on every
filing. According to the Notice of Removal, the dispossessory
action is removable to federal court pursuant various
provisions of the United States Code “such as U.S. Code
§§ 1331, 1332, 1441, and 1446, ” as well as
“28 U.S.C. §§ 1441, 1443, and 1446.”
(Doc. no. 1, p. 1.)
a defendant may remove an action from state court when the
federal court would possess original jurisdiction over the
subject matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A removing
defendant has the burden to establish federal jurisdiction.
See Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1502, 1505 (11th Cir.
1996). “Subject matter jurisdiction in a federal court
may be based upon federal question jurisdiction or diversity
jurisdiction.” Walker v. Sun Trust Bank, 363
F. App'x 11, 15 (11th Cir. 2010) (citing 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1331, 1332). “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). That is, “[o]nly state-court
actions that originally could have been filed in federal
court may be removed to federal court by the
defendant.” Id. (footnote omitted).
Accordingly, a counterclaim based on a federal cause of
action or a federal defense alone is not a basis for removal
jurisdiction. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49,
filed its action in the Magistrate Court of Richmond County
as a dispossessory action which is based only on state law.
Because the Notice of Removal does not, as would a proper
notice of removal, contain a copy of the complaint, the Court
infers based on the Notice of Trial and Judgment which are
attached, the complaint filed in Magistrate Court presents no
federal question. That Defendants purport to raise a federal
defense to a state dispossessory action does not confer
federal subject matter jurisdiction. 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). This Court and others
within the Eleventh Circuit have rejected similar attempts to
remove a dispossessory action based only on state law.
See American Homes 4 Rent Properties Eight, LLC ISAOA v.
Green, CV 115-068, 2015 WL 5043222, at *2 (S.D. Ga. Aug.
25, 2015); Citibank, N.A. v. Johnson, No.
1:14-CV-1784-WSD, 2014 WL 5019924, at *2-3 (N.D.Ga. Oct. 7,
Defendants do not plausibly raise diversity of citizenship as
a basis for federal jurisdiction, for the sake of
completeness, the Court finds no such diversity jurisdiction
exists. Federal courts have jurisdiction over “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).
Defendants fail to plead diversity of citizenship - indeed
there is no information on the citizenship of Plaintiff or
Defendants - and fail to show the amount-in-controversy
exceeds the $75, 000 threshold. As succinctly explained by
[A] dispossessory proceeding under Georgia law is not an
ownership dispute, but rather only a dispute over 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
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. 9, 2008). Defendants have not established
diversity of citizenship or that the value of the controversy
exceeds $75, 000.
the Court concludes Defendants have not met their burden of
establishing federal jurisdiction, and the case should be
remanded. 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
the Court reminds Defendants that because they are proceeding
pro se, they must sign every document filed with the
Court on their behalf. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 11(a). Under
28 U.S.C. § 1654, “In all courts of the United
States the parties may plead and conduct their own cases
personally or by counsel as, by the rules of such courts,
respectively, are permitted to manage and conduct causes
therein.” “The existence of a power of attorney
does not authorize a nonlawyer to undertake to conduct legal
proceedings on behalf of a pro se litigant where the law
otherwise requires that such proceedings be conducted by a
licensed attorney.” Stewart v. Moses, No.
7:14-CV-34 HL, 2014 WL 2986730, at *1 (M.D. Ga. July 2,
2014). As neither Taqi El Agabey Management or its Trust
Document Carrier and/or Authorized Representative are
authorized to practice law in this Court, they may not file
or sign papers on behalf of Doris E Deoraj or Hemraj Deoraj
in this Court. (See doc. no. 1, pp. 4, 8.)