United States District Court, D. Nevada
M. Navarro, Chief Judge United States District Court.
before the Court is the Motion to Remand, (ECF No. 11), filed
by Plaintiff Val Grigorian (“Grigorian”).
Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank N.A. (“Chase”)
filed a response, (ECF No. 15), and Grigorian filed a reply,
(ECF No. 17). For the reasons discussed below,
Grigorian's Motion to Remand is GRANTED.
filed this action in state court on February 10, 2017,
seeking to quiet title to the real property located at 4791
Pinon Pointe Road, Las Vegas, NV 89115. (Compl., Ex. 1 to
Pet. for Removal, ECF No. 1-2). Chase removed the action to
this Court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, citing to the
Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' decision in Bourne
Valley Ct. Trust v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., 832 F.3d
1154 (9th Cir. 2016) and 12 U.S.C. § 4617(j)(3). (Pet.
for Removal ¶¶ 3-4, ECF No. 1). In the instant
Motion, Grigorian seeks to remand this case back to state
court based on the lack of a federal question. (See
Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 11).
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, possessing only
those powers granted by the Constitution and by statute.
See United States v. Marks, 530 F.3d 799, 810 (9th
Cir. 2008). “If 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). Removal statutes are strictly construed
against removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc.,
980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). “Federal
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance.” Id.
(citing Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d
1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979)). In evaluating diversity
jurisdiction, the defendant has the burden of overcoming the
“strong presumption” against removal.
Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566.
28 U.S.C. § 1331, a federal district court has original
jurisdiction over all civil actions arising under the laws of
the United States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
“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.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392
(1987). “[A] case may not be removed to federal court
on the basis of a federal defense.” Id. at
opposition, Chase contends that federal-question jurisdiction
exists over any claim that depends on the application of the
Federal Foreclosure Bar. (Resp. 9:2-3, ECF No. 15).
Specifically, Chase argues that “federal question
jurisdiction exists because Plaintiff's claims avoided
[Chase] filing a defensive coercive action arising under
federal law.” (Id. 4:9-10). Generally, federal
question jurisdiction turns on the face of the
plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint. See Franchise Tax
Bd. of State of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for
S. Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1983). A narrow exception to
this rule exists, however, in the context of certain
“coercive” actions for declaratory judgment.
Medtronic, Inc. v. Mirowski Family Ventures, LLC,
134 S.Ct. 843, 848 (2014).
Court has previously considered and rejected the
“coercive action” theory as applied to 12 U.S.C.
§ 4617(j)(3). See Alessi & Koenig LLC v. Fed.
Nat'l Mortg. Ass'n, No. 2:15-cv-01946-GMN-GWF,
2017 WL 2636044 (D. Nev. June 19, 2017); Salomon v. Fed.
Nat'l Mortg. Ass 'n, No. 2:15-cv-00332-GMN-VCF,
2017 WL 1273868 (D. Nev. Mar. 31, 2017). Here, as in the
above cited cases, the face of the Complaint contains only
claims based on state law, and Chase has not convincingly
shown an exception to the well-pleaded complaint rule. This
case more closely resembles the “settled law that a
case may not be removed . . . on the basis of a federal
defense, ” than the doctrine described in
Medtronic, where a request for declaratory judgment
is closely related to a viable federal coercive claim.
See Thunder Props., Inc. v. Treadway, 2017 WL 899961, at
*3 (D. Nev. Mar. 7, 2017) (rejecting the argument that the
coercive action doctrine establishes federal jurisdiction in
a similar case). The Court therefore finds that Chase has
failed to establish federal question jurisdiction in this
requests attorney's fees pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c). Courts may award attorney's fees under §
1447(c) where the removing party lacked “an objectively
reasonable basis for seeking removal.” Gardner v.
UICI, 508 F.3d 559, 561 (9th Cir. 2007). Here, Chase
provided a reasonable, albeit incorrect, basis for removal.
The Court therefore declines to award attorney's fees.