United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S ORDER AND FINAL REPORT AND
T. WALKER, MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
Lindsey Walls ("Defendant"), proceeding pro se,
seeks to file this civil action without prepayment of fees
and costs or security therefore, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
191 S(a)(1). (Doc. 1). Defendant's Affidavit of Poverty
indicates that Defendant is unable to pay the filing fee or
incur the costs of these proceedings. (Id.). Thus,
the requirements of28 U.S.C. § 191 S(a)(1) have been
satisfied, and Defendant's application fr leave to
proceed in forma pauperis is hereby GRANTED. (Doc.
1). For the reasons outlined below, however, this Court
RECOMMENDS that this action be REMANDED pursuant to 28 U.S.C.
§ 1447(c) to the Magistrate Court of Cobb County.
14, 2018, pursuant to Georgia law, Plaintiff BH Management
("Plaintiff) filed a dispossessory proceeding against
Defendant in the Magistrate Court of Cobb County, in an
attempt to evict Defendant from the property located at 3254
Mission Ridge Lane, Atlanta, Georgia, 30339 (the
"Property"), for failure to pay rent. (Docs. 1-1,
p. 3). Plaintiff sought possession of the premises, unpaid
rent in the amount of$1, 085.00, utilities totaling $65.00,
court costs in the amount of $56.50, and $100.00 in late
fees. (Id.). Defendant thereafter attempted to
remove the action to this Court. (Doc. 1-1). Defendant argues
in her removal papers that this Court has federal question
jurisdiction over the instant suit. (Doc. 1-1, pp. 1-2).
on this Court's review of the pleadings, it is clear that
removal was improper because the Court lacks subject matter
jurisdiction over the instant lawsuit. It is the Court's
duty to inquire into its subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte whenever it maybe lacking. Hernandez v.
Att'y Gen., 513 F.3d 1336, 1339(11thCir.2008). The
general removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, does not
provide a basis for removal in this case. Title twenty-eight,
Section 1441 (a) of the United States Code provides that a
"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 the
defendants, to the district court of the United States for
the district and division embracing the place where such
action is pending." 28 U.S.C. § 144l(a). District
courts have original jurisdiction of civil cases that present
a federal question or that involve citizens of different
states and exceed the $75, 000 amount in controversy
threshold. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331 (federal
question jurisdiction); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1)
(diversity jurisdiction for citizens of different states).
However, "[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.
§ 144 7(c) . "[I]n removal cases, 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) (citation
omitted). "[U]ncertainties are resolved in favor of
remand." Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d
1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994).
readily apparent to this Court that federal question
jurisdiction is not present. "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 plaintiffs properly pleaded
complaint. The rule makes the plaintiff the master of the
claim; he or she may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive
reliance on state law." Caterpillar Inc. v.
Williams. 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987) (internal citation
omitted). Potential defenses and counterclaims involving the
Constitution or laws of the United States are ignored.
Vaden v. Discover Bank. 556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009);
Beneficial Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6
case, Plaintiff relied exclusively on state law when it
initiated a dispossessory proceeding in the Magistrate Court
of Cobb County to seek possession of Defendant's
residence after Defendant failed to pay rent. (Doc. 1-1, p.
3). No. federal question is presented on the face of
Plaintiffs Complaint. Jurisdiction over the initiation and
trial of a dispossessory action filed in Georgia lies
entirely in the state court system. See O.C.G.A. §
44-7-49, et seq. There is also no evidence that
warrants the application of an exception to the well-pleaded
complaint rule, such as the doctrine of complete preemption.
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393.
Defendant's Notice of Removal does not support the
existence of diversity jurisdiction. A party removing a case
to federal court based on diversity of citizenship bears the
burden of establishing that the citizenship of the parties is
diverse and that the $75, 000 amount in controversy
jurisdictional threshold is met. Rolling Greens
MHP, L.P. v. Comcast SCH Holdings L.L.C., 374 F.3d
1020, 1022 (11th Cir. 2004); Fowler v. Safeco Ins. Co. of
Am., 915 F.2d 616, 618 (11th Cir. 1990). Neither
Defendant's Petition for Removal nor Plaintiffs Complaint
includes any facts showing that the parties are diverse or
that the $75, 000 jurisdictional threshold is met. Plaintiff
is simply seeking $1, 085.00 in past due rent, $65.00 in
utilities, $156.50 in fees, and repossession of the premises.
(Doc. 1-1, p. 3). A claim seeking ejectment in a
dispossessory action cannot be reduced to a monetary sum for
purposes of determining the amount in controversy.
Citimortgage, Inc. v. Dhinoja, 705 F.Supp.2d 1378,
1382 (N.D.Ga. 2010); Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v.
Williams, Nos. 1:07-CV-2864-RWS, 2008 WL 115096, at *2
(N.D.Ga. Jan. 9, 2008); Novastar Mortg., Inc. v.
Bennett, 173 F.Supp.2d 1358, 1361-62 (N.D.Ga. 2001),
aff'd 35 Fed.Appx. 858 (11th Cir. 2002). Moreover, the
value of the property has no bearing on whether the
jurisdictional threshold has been met for the purposes of
determining the amount in controversy. See Hopson v.
Green, No. l-17-cv-3106, 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 163097 at
*4 (N.D.Ga. Oct. 2, 2017) (holding that a defendant seeking
to remove a matter may not rely on the value of the property
as a whole to satisfy the amount in controversy requirement
because a dispossessory proceeding in Georgia is only a
dispute over the limited right to possession, not an
ownership dispute over title to the property) (quoting
Fed. Home Loan Mortg. Corp. v. Williams, No.
1:07-cv-2864-RWS, 2008 WL 115096, at *2 (N.D.Ga. Jan. 9,
2008)); see also Steed v. Fed. Nat'l Mortg.
Corp., 301 Ga.App. 801, 805 (Ga.Ct.App. 2009). Because
Defendant has not established a basis for removal
jurisdiction, the undersigned RECOMMENDS that this action be
REMANDED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 144 7(c) to the
Magistrate Court of Cobb County.
on the foregoing reasons, Defendant's motion to proceed
informa pauper is is GRANTED. (Doc. 1).
Additionally, this Court RECOMMENDS that this action be
REMANDED pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) to the
Magistrate Court of Cobb County. As this is a final Report
and Recommendation and there are no other matters ...