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Wong v. Countrywide Home Loans Inc.

United States District Court, D. Nevada

January 9, 2017

SUET F. WONG, Plaintiffs,
COUNTRYWIDE HOME LOANS, INC., et al., Defendants.


         Presently before the court is pro se plaintiff Suet Wong's motion to remand, (ECF No. 13) and defendant Countrywide Home Loans, Inc.'s (“Countrywide”) motion to dismiss the complaint (ECF No. 5). On May 16, 2016, co-defendant MCM Capital Partners, LLC (“MCM”) filed a joinder to Countrywide's motion to dismiss. (ECF No. 7). The parties filed a response and reply to the motion to dismiss, and Countrywide filed a response to the motion to remand. (ECF Nos. 10, 11, 15). This court first examines the motion to remand to determine whether the court has jurisdiction over the present case and then considers defendants' motion to dismiss the complaint.

         I. Introduction

         On March 30, 2016, plaintiff filed a lawsuit in state court alleging seven causes of action: (1) fraud in the concealment; (2) unconscionable contracts; (3) breach of contract; (4) breach of fiduciary duty; (5) slander of title; (6) intentional infliction of emotional distress; and (7) declaratory relief. (ECF No. 1-1). These claims appear to be based in the securitization of a property loan. (Id.). Countrywide was served on April 4, 2016, and filed a timely notice of removal on May 4, 2016.[1] (ECF Nos. 1, 1-1 at 251).

         In the motion to remand, plaintiff argues that this court lacks jurisdiction because the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) is not satisfied. (ECF No. 13). Defendants argue that the complaint should be dismissed pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6) because plaintiff is barred from bringing his present claims due to the prior litigation of the same or similar claims. (ECF No. 5).

         II. Plaintiff's motion to remand

         a. Legal standard

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in a [s]tate 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.”

         Removal of a case to a United States district court may be challenged by motion. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c). A federal court must remand a matter if there is a lack of subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); see also Knutson v. Allis-Chalmers Corp., 358 F.Supp.2d 983, 988 (D. Nev. 2005). Removal statutes are construed restrictively and in favor of remanding a case to state court. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “On a motion to remand, the removing defendant faces a strong presumption against removal, and bears the burden of establishing that removal was proper by a preponderance of evidence.” Knutson, 358 F.Supp.2d at 988 (citing Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 403-04 (9th Cir. 1996); Gaus, 980 F.2d at 567).

         An action filed in state court may be removed to federal court only if the federal court would have had original subject matter jurisdiction over the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). This court has original subject matter jurisdiction over two types of cases. First, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, this court has federal question jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” Second, pursuant to its diversity jurisdiction, the court may preside over suits between citizens of different states where the amount in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)

         “[T]he party asserting diversity jurisdiction bears the burden of proof.” Lew v. Moss, 797 F.2d 747, 749 (9th Cir. 1986). “In ruling on a challenge to subject matter jurisdiction, the district court is ordinarily free to hear evidence regarding jurisdiction and to rule on that issue prior to trial, resolving factual disputes where necessary.” Augustine v. United States, 704 F.2d 1074, 1077 (9th Cir. 1983). The citizenship requirement for subject matter jurisdiction based on diversity of parties is determined “as of the time the lawsuit is filed.” See Lew, 797 F.2d at 750; Carter v. McConnel, 576 F.Supp. 556, 557 (D. Nev. 1983).

         b. Discussion

         This court has jurisdiction over the present case. Countrywide has shown that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 because the mortgage loan underlying the case appears to be $106, 000, and the complaint directly requests relief exceeding $100, 000.[2] (ECF No. 1-1 at 3, 20). Regarding a request for declaratory relief, the “value of the object of the litigation” establishes the amount in controversy, and the plaintiff's assertions of the sum at risk by the litigation can affirm that object's value. Cohn v. Petsmart, Inc., 281 F.3d 837, 840 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Hunt v. Wash. State Apple Adver. Comm'n, 432 U.S. 333, 347 (1977)); see also (ECF No. 1-1 at 18-19) (requesting declaratory relief). Furthermore, these facts were adequately asserted by defendant's petition for removal. (ECF No. 1). Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to remand will be denied.

         III. Defendants' motion to dismiss

         Defendants request that this court dismiss plaintiff's complaint pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8(a)(2) and 12(b)(6). (ECF No. 5). In particular, defendants assert that plaintiff's claims are barred by the doctrines of res judicata and collateral estoppel because plaintiff allegedly litigated these issues in a previous case. See Wong v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 2016 WL 755472, at *1 (D. Nev. Feb. 23, 2016); (ECF No. 5).

         a. ...

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