United States District Court, N.D. Georgia, Atlanta Division
SYLVAN HILLS and COLUMBIA RESIDENTIAL PROPERTY MANAGEMENT, Plaintiffs,
JESSICA CRAWFORD, Defendant.
FINAL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
F. KING, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
above-styled case is before the undersigned on Defendant
Jessica Crawford's application to proceed in forma
pauperis. [Doc. 1]. The court, for the purpose of
remand, GRANTS Defendant's motion. The
court has the responsibility “to review the
Defendant's notice of removal to determine whether it
meets the requirements of the statute.” Alabama v.
Baker, 222 F.Supp.2d 1296, 1297-98 (M.D. Ala. 2002).
“If at any time before final judgment it appears that
the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, ”
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) (amended 2011) requires that
“the case shall be remanded.” Upon making this
review, the court finds that it does not and recommends
Sylvan Hills and Columbia Residential Property Management,
the owners of the real property commonly known as 1150 Astor
Avenue, SW, Unit 2407, Atlanta, Georgia 30310, filed a
proceeding against tenant holding over in the Magistrate
Court of Fulton County, Georgia, on or about June 12, 2018,
against Defendant Jessica Crawford for failure to pay rent
which is now past due. [Doc. 1-1 at 3-4 (“Dispossessory
Proceeding”)]. On July 5, 2018, Defendant filed a
petition for removal and federal stay of eviction. [Doc. 1-1
at 1-2 (“Removal”)].
U.S.C. § 1441(a) provides that “any 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. §
1441(a). 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. § 1447(c). See also Arbaugh v. Y & H
Corp., 126 S.Ct. 1235, 1244 (2006) (all federal courts
“have an independent obligation to determine whether
subject-matter jurisdiction exists, even in the absence of a
challenge from any party”). “[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
(11thCir. 2001). “[U]ncertainties are
resolved in favor of remand.” Burns v. Windsor Ins.
Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir. 1994).
Crawford bases the petition for removal of Plaintiffs Sylvan
Hill's and Columbia Residential Property Management's
dispossessory proceeding on the court's federal question
jurisdiction. [Removal]. “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. . . . 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, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 2429 (1987) (citations
omitted). Potential defenses involving the Constitution or
laws of the United States are ignored. Beneficial
Nat'l Bank v. Anderson, 123 S.Ct. 2058, 2062 (2003).
present case, Plaintiffs relied exclusively on state law when
filing the dispossessory action in the Magistrate Court of
Fulton County. [Dispossessory Proceeding]. A dispossessory
action is brought pursuant to O.C.G.A. § 44-7-50.
See Citimortgage, Inc. v. Dhinoja, 705 F.Supp.2d
1378, 1381 (N.D.Ga. 2010); Ikomoni v. Executive
Asset Management, LLC, 309 Ga.App. 81, 84, 709 S.E.2d
282, 286 (March 16, 2011) (“‘The
exclusive method whereby a landlord may evict a
tenant is through a properly instituted dispossessory action
filed pursuant to OCGA § 44-7-50 et
seq.'”) (citation omitted) (emphasis added);
see also Fennelly v. Lyons, 333 Ga.App. 96, 100, 775
S.E.2d 587, 592 (2015) (same). Defendant alleges that removal
is proper on the basis of federal question jurisdiction and,
in the petition, claims that Plaintiffs violated the Fair
Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692.
[Removal]. However, no federal question is presented on the
face of Plaintiffs' well-pleaded complaint.
[Dispossessory Proceeding]. There is also no evidence which
warrants the application of an exception to the well-pleaded
complaint rule, such as the doctrine of complete preemption.
Caterpillar, 107 S.Ct. at 2430.
there is no evidence that Defendant could establish
jurisdiction based on diversity. To do so, Defendant would
have to show that there is complete diversity of citizenship
between Defendant and Plaintiffs and that the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000.00. See 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332(a)(1). Although Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs
are registered and headquartered in the State of South
Carolina [Removal at 1], she also notes that all parties are
citizens of the State of Georgia [Doc. 1-2 (“Civil
Cover Sheet”)]. Even if Plaintiffs are not citizens of
the State of Georgia, as to damages, Plaintiffs'
dispossessory proceeding seeks the ejectment of Defendant
from the property due to failure to pay past due rent of
$833.00 with rent accruing at a rate of $833.00 a month and
other costs and fees of less than $, 1000.00. [Dispossessory
Proceeding]. Again, the court looks to Plaintiffs' claim
to determine whether removal jurisdiction is appropriate.
See Burns, 31 F.3d at 1095; Novastar Mortg.,
Inc. v. Bennett, 173 F.Supp.2d 1358, 1361 (N.D.Ga.
2001). The face of the complaint shows that the amount in
controversy does not exceed the $75, 000.00 required for the
court to have diversity jurisdiction as a basis for removal.
these reasons, the court finds that federal jurisdiction does
not exist and that this action should be remanded pursuant to
28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
also apparently seeks a stay of the dispossessory proceedings
and/or eviction. [Removal]. Defendant is not entitled to a
stay of the dispossessory proceedings. See American Homes
4 Rent Properties Eight, LLC v. Dynott, 2015 WL 5920130,
at *2 & n.4 (N.D.Ga. October 8, 2015) (denying the
defendant's motion to stay state court dispossessory
proceedings as moot because court lacked subject-matter
jurisdiction and noting that, “[e]ven if subject-matter
jurisdiction existed, the Court [would be] unable to grant
Defendant the relief he seeks - a stay of state court
eviction proceedings - because a federal court is prohibited
under the Anti-Injunction Act . . . from enjoining a state
court eviction proceeding”); U.S. Bank National
Ass'n v. Sanders, 2015 WL 1568803, at *3 (N.D.Ga.
April 7, 2015) (“Because this action is required to be
remanded, Defendant's . . . Motion to Stay . . . [should
be] denied.”); and see CF Lane, LLC v.
Stephens, 2014 WL 1572472, at *2 (N.D.Ga. April 17,
2014) (“this Court cannot enjoin a state court action
because Defendant failed to demonstrate any lawful basis for
removal of this action to this court, IT IS
RECOMMENDED that this action be
REMANDED to the Magistrate Court of Fulton
County where it was last pending.
Clerk is DIRECTED to terminate the reference