United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
FEDERAL HOME LOAN MORTGAGE CORPORATION, a/k/a Freddie Mac, Plaintiff,
ROBERT MORGAN, Defendant.
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
S. ANAND, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation filed this action on
or about August 22, 2017, in the Magistrate Court of Douglas
County, and Defendant Robert Morgan removed the action to
this Court on November 29, 2017. See Notice of
Removal . Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447, if at any
time before final judgment it appears that this Court lacks
subject matter jurisdiction over an action that has been
removed from a state court, this Court must remand the
action. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
undersigned must therefore examine Defendant's Notice of
Removal  to determine whether this Court has jurisdiction
over Plaintiff's claims.
removal of state court actions to federal court is governed
by 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides, in relevant part:
[A]ny 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 or defendants,
to the district court of the United States for the district
and division embracing the place where such action is
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
state court action is removed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1441, the Court must make an independent determination
regarding the appropriateness of removal before it resolves
any pending motions. 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.”); see also University of
South. Ala. v. American Tobacco Co., 168 F.3d 405, 410
(11th Cir. 1999) (“removal jurisdiction is no exception
to a federal court's obligation to inquire into its own
jurisdiction” and remand is mandatory when a court
determines that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction,
notwithstanding the presence of other motions pending before
Supreme Court has held that federal courts may not
“assume” the presence of subject matter
jurisdiction and rule directly on the merits of an action
without first finding that jurisdiction exists:
Without jurisdiction the court cannot proceed at all in any
cause. Jurisdiction is power to declare the law, and when it
ceases to exist, the only function remaining to the court is
that of announcing the fact and dismissing the cause.
Steele Co. v. Citizens for a Better Environment, 523
U.S. 83, 94 (1998) (quoting Ex parte
McCardle, 7 Wall. 506, 514 (1868)). Thus, any ruling
made by a federal court that lacks subject matter
jurisdiction is a nullity and either party, even the party
that invoked the jurisdiction of the court, can attack
jurisdiction at any time even after judgment is rendered.
American Fire & Cas. Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6,
17-18 (1951) (“To permit a federal trial court to enter
a judgment in a case removed without right from a state court
where the federal court could not have original jurisdiction
of the suit even in the posture it had at the time of
judgment, would by the act of the parties work a wrongful
extension of federal jurisdiction and give district courts
power the Congress has denied them.”).
party removing the action to federal court, the Defendant
bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction over
the action, and the burden is a “heavy” one.
See Kirkland v. Midland Mortg. Co., 243 F.3d 1277,
1281 n.5 (11th Cir. 2001); Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d
1502, 1505 (11th Cir. 1996); Lampkin v. Media General,
Inc., 302 F.Supp.2d 1293, 1294 (M.D.Ala. 2004). Because
removal is a purely statutory right, courts must strictly
construe removal statutes in favor of state court
jurisdiction. Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-9 (1941); Rembrant, Inc.
v. Phillips Const. Co., Inc., 500 F.Supp. 766, 768
in determining whether removal is appropriate under 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441, federal courts must resolve all doubts against
Because removal jurisdiction raises significant federalism
concerns, federal courts are directed to construe removal
statutes strictly. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v.
Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09, 61 S.Ct. 868, 872, 85
L.Ed. 1214 (1941). Indeed, all doubts about jurisdiction
should be resolved in favor of remand to state court. See
Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir.
1994) (citing Boyer v. Snap-on Tools Corp., 913 F.2d
108 (3d Cir. 1990); Coker v. Amoco Oil Co., 709 F.2d
1433 (11th Cir. 1983)). A presumption in favor of remand is
necessary because if a federal court reaches the merits of a
pending motion in a removed case where subject matter
jurisdiction may be lacking it deprives a state court of its
right under the Constitution to resolve controversies in its
University of South. Ala., 168 F.3d at 411.
case, the Defendant removed this action solely on the basis
of federal question jurisdiction. See Notice of
Removal . The undersigned must therefore examine
Defendant's Notice of Removal, along with the attached
documents from the state court action, to determine whether
this Court has jurisdiction over Plaintiff's claims. The
undersigned has reviewed the Defendant's Notice of
Removal and the documents attached thereto, and finds that
Defendant has failed to establish that this Court has subject