United States District Court, D. Connecticut
MEMORANDUM OF DECISION ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO
REMAND TO STATE COURT [DKT. 8]
VANESSA L. BRYANT, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
case was originally filed by the Plaintiff Christiana Trust
in Connecticut Superior Court and is a mortgage foreclosure
action. Plaintiff filed its complaint and summons on July 8,
2016 and filed a return of service the same day. The
complaint has not been amended. The Superior Court entered a
Judgment of Strict Foreclosure on November 6, 2017. [Dkt.
117.02]. After a great deal of motion practice, the Court set
the foreclosure sale date for May 4, 2019. [Dkt. 152.01]. Two
days prior to the sale date, on May 2, 2019, Defendant Fanny
Garcia moved to open and vacate the Court's Judgment.
[Dkt. 164.00]. The next day, May 3, 2019, Garcia moved to
dismiss the case from the Connecticut Superior Court due to
“lack of subject matter jurisdiction, ” [Dkt.
166.00], while simultaneously removing the case to this
Court. [Dkt. 1].
Court Jurisdiction Generally Federal courts are courts
of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power
authorized by Constitution and statute. See Willy v.
Coastal Corp., 503 U.S. 131, 135 (1992) (affirming
remand of removed case when diversity and federal question
subject matter jurisdiction was lacking and noting that
“federal courts . . . [are] not free to extend or
restrict their jurisdiction conferred by a statute . . . [or]
the Constitution”); Bender v. Williamsport Area
Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986) (vacating court of
appeals judgment for want of subject matter jurisdiction and
stating that “[f]ederal courts are not courts of
general jurisdiction; they have only the power that is
authorized by Article III of the Constitution and the
statutes enacted by Congress pursuant thereto.”)
(citing Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137,
173-80 (1803)). A court presumes it does not have
jurisdiction and the party seeking to invoke the court's
jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing jurisdiction
exists. Turner v. Bank of N. Am., 4 U.S. (4 Dall.)
8, 11 (1799) (reversing lower court judgment when diversity
subject matter jurisdiction not proven and noting that
“the fair presumption is (not as with regard to a Court
of general jurisdiction, that a cause is within its
jurisdiction unless the contrary appears, but rather) that a
cause is without its jurisdiction till the contrary
appears.”); McNutt v. General Motors Acceptance
Corp., 298 U.S. 178, 182-183 (1936) (reversing case when
party asserting diversity jurisdiction did not allege
adequate amount in controversy and noting that “[i]t is
incumbent upon the [party asserting adequate subject matter
jurisdiction] properly to allege the jurisdictional facts,
according to the nature of the case.”); Kokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994)
(“Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. .
. . It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this
limited jurisdiction, and the burden of establishing the
contrary rests upon the party asserting
jurisdiction.”). Courts may not expand their
jurisdiction. American Fire & Casualty Co. v.
Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 17 (1951) (“The jurisdiction of
the federal courts is carefully guarded against expansion by
judicial interpretation . . . .”). Defendant invokes
this Court's jurisdiction asserting federal question
jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction.
Removal is Untimely
Court first addresses the untimeliness of removal. 28 U.S.C.
1446(b) requires a case to be removed within 30 days of one
of two triggering events. This case was filed three years
ago, and it is untimely under either scenario. In addition,
Defendant claims the time was tolled, but there is no legal
or factual basis asserted by Defendant to justify the claim
that the removal period is tolled. On the record before the
Court the removal is untimely.
Cannot Remove the Case on the Basis of Diversity
Court would not have jurisdiction even if Defendant removed
the case timely. “A civil action otherwise removable
solely on the basis of [diversity jurisdiction] may not be
removed if any of the parties in interest properly joined and
served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such
action is brought.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2).
Because both defendants are citizens of Connecticut, the
state in which the Plaintiff brought the action, the action
is not removable on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
is no Federal Question Jurisdiction
also claims the Court has federal question jurisdiction. As
an initial matter, to effectuate a removal, the defendant
must file a short and plain statement of the grounds for
removal, which shall be signed pursuant to Federal Rule of
Civil Procedure 11. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a). Plaintiff's
statement is neither short nor plain and consists of a
compilation of incomprehensible legal concisions devoid of
factual support. Defendant's rambling recitation of
allegations and legal principles does not establish this
court has jurisdiction. Younger v. Harris, 401 U.S.
37, 42 (1971) (holding that allegations of putative
plaintiffs who argued only “imaginary or
speculative” causes of action insufficient “to
bring the equitable jurisdiction of the federal courts into
play . . . .”); 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); Exxon
Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546,
592-93 (2005) (noting that the “sole issue” that
matters for federal question subject matter jurisdiction
“is whether a federal question appears on the face of
the plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint; . . .”)
(Ginsburg, J., dissenting); 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b).
Court can only surmise Defendant's assertion of federal
question jurisdiction rests on the assertion that the
Plaintiff submitted a false statement concerning its attempt
to communicate with Plaintiff concerning the federal
Homeowners Assistance (“HAP”) program. Federal
question jurisdiction exists when the cause of action arises
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States. See 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Whether a claim
“arises under” federal law is determined by the
“well-pleaded complaint” doctrine. Merrell
Dow Pharms. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986).
Thus, it is the allegations of a complaint and not a defense
that raises a federal question which confers federal question
jurisdiction. See Id. (“A defense that raises
a federal question is inadequate to confer federal
Appears One Defendant Does Not Consent to Removal
there are two defendants in this case, both Connecticut
residents. Only one defendant, moving pro se,
removed this case. Both bear the same surname and given the
apparent nature of the suit it appears they may be related.
As they are appear to be related, it is logical to believe
the non-consenting defendant is aware of the removing
defendant's actions. Thus, the Court suspects one
Defendant may not consent to the removal and is unprepared to
prosecute his defense pro se in federal court.
Because “all defendants who have been ...