United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division
THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON, AS TRUSTEE FOR CIT HOME EQUITY LOAN TRUST 2003-1, Plaintiff,
DOUGLAS COUCHRAN; CELESTE COUCHRAN; and/or ALL OCCUPANTS OF 6221 Aspen Estates Drive, Sachse, Texas, 75048, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Lindsay, United States District Judge.
the court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Proceeding
(Doc. 5), filed April 8, 2019. No. response to the motion was
filed by Defendants. For the reasons herein explained, the
court grants Plaintiff's Motion to
Remand Proceeding (Doc. 5) and remands this
action to County Court at Law No. 3, Dallas County, Texas,
from which it was removed.
Standard for Subject Matter Jurisdiction
federal court has subject matter jurisdiction over civil
cases “arising under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States, ” or over civil cases in
which the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs, and in which diversity of citizenship
exists between the parties. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331,
1332. Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and
must have statutory or constitutional power to adjudicate a
claim. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994) (citations omitted); Home Builders
Ass'n of Miss., Inc. v. City of Madison,
143 F.3d 1006, 1010 (5th Cir. 1998). Absent jurisdiction
conferred by statute or the Constitution, they lack the power
to adjudicate claims and must dismiss an action if subject
matter jurisdiction is lacking. Id.; Stockman v.
Federal Election Comm'n, 138 F.3d 144, 151 (5th Cir.
1998) (citing Veldhoen v. United States Coast Guard,
35 F.3d 222, 225 (5th Cir. 1994)). A federal court must
presume that an action lies outside its limited jurisdiction,
and the burden of establishing that the court has subject
matter jurisdiction to entertain an action rests with the
party asserting jurisdiction. Kokkonen, 511 U.S. at
377 (citations omitted). “[S]ubject-matter jurisdiction
cannot be created by waiver or consent.” Howery v.
Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 919 (5th Cir. 2001).
courts may also exercise subject matter jurisdiction over a
civil action removed from a state court. Unless Congress
provides otherwise, 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
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).
federal court has an independent duty, at any level of the
proceedings, to determine whether it properly has subject
matter jurisdiction over a case. Ruhgras AG v. Marathon
Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583 (1999)
(“[S]ubject-matter delineations must be policed by the
courts on their own initiative even at the highest
level.”); McDonal v. Abbott Labs., 408 F.3d
177, 182 n.5 (5th Cir. 2005) (A “federal court may
raise subject matter jurisdiction sua
sponte.”) (citation omitted).
an action “arises under” federal law and creates
federal question jurisdiction over a case removed from state
to federal court, or one originally filed in such court,
ordinarily “must be determined by reference to the
‘well-pleaded complaint.'” Merrell Dow
Pharms. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986)
(citation omitted). “[A] case may not be
removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense .
. . even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff's
complaint, and even if both parties concede that the federal
defense is the only question truly at issue.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 393
(1987). “A defense that raises a federal question is
inadequate to confer federal jurisdiction.”
Thompson, 478 U.S. at 808 (citation omitted).
“Even an inevitable federal defense does not provide a
basis for removal jurisdiction.” Bernhard, 523
F.3d at 551 (citations omitted). In other words, the
complaint must “raise issues of federal law
sufficient to support federal question jurisdiction.”
Rodriguez v. Pacificare of Tex., Inc., 980 F.2d
1014, 1017 (5th Cir. 1993) (citation omitted).
of citizenship exists between the parties only if each
plaintiff has a different citizenship from each defendant.
Getty Oil Corp. v. Insurance Co. of N. Am., 841 F.2d
1254, 1258 (5th Cir. 1988). Otherwise stated, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332 requires complete diversity of citizenship; that
is, a district court cannot exercise jurisdiction if any
plaintiff shares the same citizenship as any defendant.
See Corfield v. Dallas Glen Hills LP, 355 F.3d 853,
857 (5th Cir. 2003) (citation omitted). “[T]he basis
upon which jurisdiction depends must be alleged affirmatively
and distinctly and cannot be established argumentatively or
by mere inference.” Getty, 841 F.2d at 1259
(citing Illinois Cent. Gulf R.R. Co. v. Pargas,
Inc., 706 F.2d 633, 636 n.2 (5th Cir. 1983)). Failure to
allege adequately the basis of diversity mandates remand or
dismissal of the action. See Stafford v. Mobil Oil
Corp., 945 F.2d 803, 805 (5th Cir. 1991). A notice of
removal “must allege diversity both at the time of the
filing of the suit in state court and at the time of
removal.” In re Allstate Ins. Co., 8 F.3d 219,
221 (5th Cir. 1993) (quotation marks and citations omitted).
natural person is considered a citizen of the state where he
or she is domiciled, that is, where the person has a fixed
residence with the intent to remain there indefinitely.
See Freeman v. Northwest Acceptance Corp., 754 F.2d
553, 555-56 (5th Cir. 1985). “‘Citizenship'
and ‘residence' are not synonymous.”
Parker v. Overman, 59 U.S. 137, 141 (1855).
“For diversity purposes, citizenship means domicile;
mere residence in [a] [s]tate is not sufficient.”
Preston v. Tenet Healthsystem Mem'l Med. Ctr.,
Inc., 485 F.3d 793, 799 (5th Cir. 2007) (citation and
quotation marks omitted). “Domicile requires residence
in [a] state and an intent to remain in the state.”
Id. at 798 (citing Mississippi Band of Choctaw
Indians v. Holyfield, 490 U.S. 30, 48 (1989)). A
national bank, for diversity purposes, “is a citizen of
the State in which its main office, as set forth in its
articles of association, is located.” Wachovia
Bank, N.A. v. Schmidt, 546 U.S. 303, 307 (2006).
diversity purposes, the amount in controversy normally is
determined by the amount sought on the face of the
plaintiff's pleadings, so long as the plaintiff's
claim is made in good faith. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(2);
Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135
S.Ct. 547, 553 (2014) (citation omitted); St. Paul
Reinsurance Co. v. Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1253 (5th
Cir. 1998); De Aguilar v. Boeing Co., 47 F.3d 1404,
1408 (5th Cir. 1995). Removal is thus proper if it is
“facially apparent” from the complaint that the
claim or claims asserted exceed the jurisdictional amount.
Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326,
1335 (5th Cir.), reh'g denied, 70 F.3d 26 (5th
Cir. 1995). “[A] defendant's notice of removal need
include only a plausible allegation that the amount in
controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold.”
Dart, 135 S.Ct. at 554. Further, “[e]vidence
establishing the amount is required by § 1446(c)(2)(B)
only when the plaintiff contests, or the court questions, the
defendant's allegation.” Id. In a removed
case, when the complaint does not state a specific amount of
damages and the allegations are challenged by the plaintiff
or questioned by the court, the defendant must establish by a
preponderance of the evidence that “the amount in
controversy exceeds the [$75, 000] jurisdictional
amount.” St. Paul Reinsurance, 134 F.3d at
1253. In such cases, “[t]he preponderance burden forces
the defendant to do more than point to a state law that might
allow the plaintiff to recover more than what is pled. The
defendant must produce evidence that establishes that the
actual amount of the claim will exceed [the jurisdictional
amount].” De Aguilar, 47 F.3d at 1412
(footnotes omitted). If a defendant fails to establish the
requisite jurisdictional amount, the court must remand the
case to state court. If a defendant establishes that the
jurisdictional amount has been met, remand is appropriate
only if a plaintiff can establish “to a legal
certainty” that his recovery will not exceed the
jurisdictional threshold. In re 1994 Exxon Chemical
Fire, 558 F.3d 378, 387-88 (5th Cir. 2009).
doubts as to the propriety of the removal should be construed
strictly in favor of remand. Manguno v. Prudential Prop.
& Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002).
“The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction
in federal court rests on the party seeking to invoke
it.” St. Paul Reinsurance, 134 F.3d at 1253
(footnote omitted). Accordingly, if a case is removed to
federal court, the defendant has the burden of establishing
subject matter jurisdiction.
maintains that Defendants removed this forcible detainer
action for the improper purpose of delaying the lawful
eviction proceedings for the Property. Plaintiff contends
that the court should remand this action because Defendants
have failed to establish that the court has subject matter
jurisdiction over this action, and removal of the action
violates the rule against allowing removal of actions by an
in-state defendant, as Defendants are citizens of the state
in which this action was brought. Regarding subject matter
jurisdiction, Plaintiff asserts that Defendants have failed
to identify any federal question in the state action brought
by Plaintiff or establish that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000 as required for subject matter jurisdiction
based on diversity of citizenship. The court agrees that it
lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action. It,
therefore, focuses on this issue.
Notice of Removal alleges that Plaintiff The Bank of New York
Mellon, as Trustee for Cit Home Equity Loan Trust 2003-1
(“Plaintiff”) “has violated various federal
laws and the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional
minimum of $75, 000[, ] as [D]efendant is requesting $500,
000 in damages for civil rights violations because many
conspirators in the foreclosure and eviction proceedings are
government employees, many are federal government employees,
in conjunction with The Bank of New York Mellon.”
Defs.' Notice of Removal 1-2. A copy of the petition
filed by Plaintiff in the state court action was not included
in the removal papers filed in this case but was included as
an exhibit to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. As this
document was filed in County Court at Law No.
CC-19-01018-C[*] and is a matter of public record, the
court can also take judicial notice of it.