United States District Court, S.D. Texas, Brownsville Division
JOSEPHINE V. SALAS, Plaintiff,
WELLS FARGO BANK, N.A. and SUBSTITUTE TRUSTEE ARNOLD MENDOZA, Defendants.
MAGISTRATE JUDGE'S REPORT AND
Ignacio Torteya, III United States Magistrate Judge.
Court is in receipt of Plaintiff Josephine V. Salas's
“Motion to Remand” (hereinafter, Salas's
“Motion”). Dkt. No. 7. The Court has also
received Defendants' “Response in Opposition to
Salas's Motion to Remand” (hereinafter,
Defendants' “Response”). Dkt. No. 8. For the
reasons stated below, it is recommended that the Court
DENY Salas's Motion.
Statement of the Case
August 29, 2019, Defendant Wells Fargo Bank filed a Notice of
Removal, removing the instant civil action from the 445th
Judicial District Court of Cameron County, Texas. Dkt. No. 1.
Salas filed her Motion on September 4, 2019, asserting that
this Court should remand the case back to state court
alleging improper removal by Defendants. Dkt. No. 7 at 1-2.
Salas argues that removal was improper because: (1) the Court
must strictly construe the removal statute; (2) the Court
lacks federal question jurisdiction; (3) the Court lacks
diversity jurisdiction; and (4) the amount in controversy in
this action does not exceed $75, 000. Id. In their
Response, Defendants assert that this Court does have
subject-matter jurisdiction. Dkt. No. 8. Defendants argue
that removal was proper because: (1) the case was removed
based on diversity jurisdiction and not federal question
jurisdiction; (2) the amount of controversy is measured by
the value of the property in cases where injunctive relief is
sought; and (3) the citizenship of the improperly joined
substitute trustee can be disregarded. Id. at 3.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction that may only
exercise original jurisdiction when the case or controversy
“arises under” federal law or based on complete
diversity of citizenship among the parties and more than $75,
000 in controversy. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332;
Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392,
107 S.Ct. 2425, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). The party removing an
action bears the burden of establishing that federal
jurisdiction is present. Howery v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001). All doubts
concerning whether removal jurisdiction is proper must be
resolved in favor of remand. Acuna v. Brown & Root,
Inc., 200 F.3d 335, 339 (5th Cir. 2000). Pursuant to 28
U.S.C. § 1332, a federal court will not have subject
matter jurisdiction unless: (1) “the matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs, ” and (2) complete diversity of
citizenship is present between the parties. 28 U.S.C. §
1332; Villarreal v. State Farm Lloyds, No.
7:15-CV-292, 2015 WL 5838876, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Oct. 7, 2015)
Amount in Controversy
Original Petition filed in state court requests actual
damages, interest, and attorney's fees. Dkt. No. 1-5 at
7. Salas seeks to prevent foreclosure of the property at
issue in this case. Id. Additionally, the property
has an assessed market value of $109, 230. Dkt. No. 1-9 at 2.
In an action that seeks declaratory or injunctive relief, the
amount of controversy is measured by the value of the object
of the litigation. Hunt v. Washington State Apple
Advertising Com'n, 432 U.S. 333, 347, 97 S.Ct. 2435,
53 L.Ed.2d 383 (1977); Copeland v. U.S. Bank Nat.
Ass'n, 2012 WL 3062168 at *1 (5th Cir. July 27,
2012) (“the value in controversy exceeds $75, 000 due
to the value of the subject property.”). Remand, then,
is not appropriate because Salas has not established
“to a legal certainty that the claim is really for less
than the jurisdictional amount[.]” See St. Paul
Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, 289
(1938)). See also Ray Mart, Inc. v. Stock Bldg. Supply of
Texas, LP, 435 F.Supp.2d 578, 586 (E.D. Tex. 2006)
(“[W]here the plaintiff's claims can be proved to
be of the type that are worth more than [$75, 000.00], they
can be removed unless the plaintiff can show he is legally
bound to accept less.”).
Diversity of Citizenship
is domiciled in Cameron County, Texas. Dkt. 1-5 at 3. A
person is a citizen of a state based on their domicile, which
is their permanent residence. 28 U.S.C. §1332(a)(2);
Coury v. Prot, 85 F.3d 244, 249 (5th Cir. 1996)
(“state citizenship for diversity purposes is regarded
as synonymous with domicile.”). Salas, then, is a
citizen of the state of Texas.
Wells Fargo's corporate citizenship
Fargo Bank is a state citizen of South Dakota as evidenced by
its Articles of Association. See Dkt. No. 1 at 4, 8
at 5; 28 U.S.C. § 1332(c)(1); Hertz Corp. v.
Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 85-89, 130 S.Ct. 1181, 175 L.Ed.2d
1029 (2010) (finding that a corporation's main
headquarters is its principal place of business pursuant to
28 U.S.C. §1332(c)(1)); Wachovia Bank v.
Schmidt, 546 U.S. 303, 307, 126 S.Ct. 941, 163 L.Ed.2d
797 (2006) (“a national bank…is a citizen of the
State in which its main office, as set forth in its articles
of association, is located.”). Moreover, a bank's
physical presence through its branches does not render that
bank a citizen of ...