United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
ORDER AND FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
K. LARKINS III, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Defendant Crystal S.
Sutton's application for leave to proceed in forma
pauperis (“IFP”) on her notice of removal of
a state dispossessory action to this Court. [Doc. 1.] After
considering Sutton's application, I find that she meets
the requirements for IFP status and GRANT
her request to proceed IFP pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1915(a). Nevertheless, this Court does not have subject
matter jurisdiction over the removal action. I therefore
RECOMMEND that this case be
REMANDED to the Magistrate Court of DeKalb
underlying dispossessory action, Plaintiff Waterford Manor
Provence Real Estate (“Waterford Manor”) alleged
that Sutton failed to pay the rent for leased premises in
DeKalb County. [Doc. 1-1 at 6.] Waterford Manor demanded
possession of the premises, past due rent of $659 for the
month of May 2018, current rent accruing at a rate of $659
each month, and various fees and utilities. [Id.]
Petition for Removal, Sutton argues that the state court
eviction proceeding has violated her Fourteenth Amendment
right to due process because service was defective. [Doc. 1-1
at 4.] She further argues that the proceeding violates the
Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and the Uniform Commercial
Code and the dispossessory complaint fails to state a claim
upon which relief may be granted. [Id. at 2, 4.]
Finally, she argues that the Court has jurisdiction over the
state proceeding because she has an open bankruptcy case.
[Id. at 4.]
“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 or defendants,
to the district court of the United States.” 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a). Here, however, the underlying case is a state
dispossessory action containing no federal claim. [Doc. 1-1
at 6.] Thus, removal based on federal question jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 is improper. See Beneficial
Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003)
(“As a general rule, absent diversity jurisdiction, a
case will not be removable if the complaint does not
affirmatively allege a federal claim.”); see also
U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Sanders, No. 1:13-cv-
357-WSD, 2015 WL 1568803, *3 (N.D.Ga. Apr. 7, 2015). Even if
Sutton now wishes to assert counterclaims or defenses based
on federal law, this Court may look only to the complaint
itself to determine whether there is federal question
jurisdiction. See Anderson, 529 U.S. at 6.
also clear that there is no diversity jurisdiction under 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). Sutton appears to be a Georgia citizen
and therefore cannot remove the dispossessory case-filed in
state court in Georgia-to federal court. 28 U.S.C. §
1441(b)(2). In any event, the dispossessory claim against
Sutton cannot be reduced to a monetary sum for purposes of
satisfying the amount-in-controversy requirement in §
1332(a), and the demand for money damages in the complaint
was well below the $75, 000 threshold in § 1332(a).
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Citimortgage, Inc.
v. Dhinoja, 705 F.Supp.2d 1378, 1382 (N.D.Ga. 2010)
(holding that only the plaintiff's claim may satisfy the
amount-in-controversy requirement, and an action seeking
ejectment cannot be reduced to a monetary sum for purposes of
determining the amount in controversy). Thus, the amount in
controversy requirement in § 1332(a) is not met.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).
extent that Sutton relies on 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1), that
provision does not provide a basis for removal of the state
dispossessory action to this Court. Section 1443(1) provides
that a defendant may remove a case initiated in state court
if he or she is “denied or cannot enforce in the courts
of such State a right under any law providing for the equal
civil rights of the United States, or of all persons within
the jurisdiction thereof.” 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1). A
notice of removal under § 1443(1) must show that the
right on which the defendant relies arises under federal law
“providing for specific civil rights stated in terms of
racial equality, ” and the defendant has been denied or
cannot enforce that right in state court. Alabama v.
Conley, 245 F.3d 1292, 1295 (11th Cir. 2001). Sutton
asserts that the eviction proceedings are violating her
Fourteenth Amendment rights, but that assertion cannot
support a claim for removal because § 1443(1) only
applies to “specific civil rights stated in terms of
racial equality.” See Conley, 245 F.3d at
1295; see also Id. at 1295-96 (“[A]
defendant's right to a fair trial and equal protection of
the laws . . . do[es] not arise from legislation providing
for specific civil rights in terms of racial equality[.]
Therefore, to the extent [that petitioner] relies upon broad
assertions under the Equal Protection Clause . . ., those
rights are insufficient to support a valid claim for removal
under § 1443(1).” (quotation omitted)).
despite Sutton assertion that she has a bankruptcy case
pending in this District, the docket for the U.S. Bankruptcy
Court for the Northern District of Georgia does not reveal
that she has filed a bankruptcy petition. She therefore
cannot rely on the Court's jurisdiction over matters
“related to” bankruptcy cases. See 28
U.S.C. § 1334.
the Court GRANTS Sutton's application
for leave to proceed IFP. [Doc. 1.] Because it is clear that
this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over the removal
action, it is further RECOMMENDED that the
case be REMANDED to the Magistrate Court of
SO ORDERED AND RECOMMENDED.
 In the caption, Plaintiff Waterford
Manor Provence Real Estate's name is misidentified as
“Waterford Manor Providence Real Estate.” The
Clerk is DIRECTED to correct the ...