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Wilmington Savings Fund Society v. Perreira

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

May 27, 2016

WILMINGTON SAVINGS FUND SOCIETY, FSB DBA CRISTIANA TRUST AS TRUSTEE FOR HLSS MORTGAGE MASTER TRUST FOR THE BENEFIT OF THE HOLDERS OF THE SERIES 2014-1 CERTIFICATES ISSUED BY HLSS MORTGAGE MASTER TRUST, Plaintiffs,
v.
AUDREY ANNE PERREIRA, JUSTIN KEHAU PERREIRA, ANDREW H. DONALDSON, ET AL. AND ROES 1-10, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF’S MOTION TO REMAND ACTION REMOVED FROM THE CIRCUIT COURT OF THE THIRD CIRCUIT, STATE OF HAWAI`I

          Leslie E. Kobayashi United States District Judge

         On February 18, 2016, Plaintiff Wilmington Savings Fund Society, FSB doing business as Christiana Trust as Trustee for HLSS Mortgage Master Trust for the Benefit of the Holders of the Series 2014-1 Certificates Issued by HLSS Mortgage Master Trust (“Plaintiff”) filed a Motion to Remand Action Removed from the Circuit Court of the Third Circuit, State of Hawai`i (“Motion to Remand”). [Dkt. no. 5.] Pro se Defendants Audrey Anne Perreira, Justin Kehau Perreira, and Andrew H. Donaldson (collectively “Defendants”) filed their memorandum in opposition on April 1, 2016, and Plaintiff filed its reply on April 12, 2016. [Dkt. nos. 16, 18.] On April 29, 2016, Defendants filed a document titled “Notice of Applicability and Invocation of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution Civil Right of Due Process” (“4/29/16 Notice”).[1] [Dkt. no. 20.]

         The Court finds this matter suitable for disposition without a hearing pursuant to Rule LR7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice of the United States District Court for the District of Hawai`i. After careful consideration of the Motion to Remand, supporting and opposing memoranda, and the relevant legal authority, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand is HEREBY GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         On November 27, 2015, Plaintiff filed its Complaint in the State of Hawai`i Third Circuit Court (“Third Circuit”). [Motion to Remand, Decl. of Counsel (“Ohara Decl.”) Exh. 1.[2] Plaintiff claims that it owns a promissory note of $206, 755 (“Note”), which secures a mortgage executed by Defendants on certain property in Kea`au, Hawai`i (“Mortgage” and “the Property”). [Id. at ¶¶ 11-14.] Plaintiff alleges that Defendants defaulted on the Note and Mortgage by not paying the principal and interest and that Defendants did not cure the default. [Id. at ¶¶ 26-27.] In Count I of the Complaint, Plaintiff requests a declaratory judgment that it is the current holder of the Note and Mortgage, and that it has priority over the interests of all of the defendants in this case.[3] [Id. at ¶ 24.] In Count II, Plaintiff requests judicial foreclosure of the Property. [Id. at ¶ 28.]

         Defendants removed the action to this district court based on federal question and diversity jurisdiction. [Notice of Removal, filed 1/26/16 (dkt. no. 1), at pgs. 2-4.] In support of the existence of federal question jurisdiction, Defendants cite the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution and various federal statutes. [Id. at pgs. 4-5.] Defendants assert that diversity jurisdiction exists because the amount-in-controversy requirement is satisfied and Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation and Defendants are Hawai`i citizens. [Id. at pgs. 2-3.]

         In the Motion to Remand, Plaintiff counters that: the Complaint alleges only causes of action under state law; Defendants cannot create federal subject matter jurisdiction by attempting to raise defenses or counterclaims based on federal law; and Defendants are all Hawai`i citizens, which bars removal under the forum defendant rule. In their memorandum in opposition, Defendants reiterate the arguments from their Notice of Removal. Defendants also request sanctions against Plaintiff and Plaintiff’s attorneys for “improperly attempting to prevent pro se homeowner defendants from raising legitimate defenses and counter-claims based on federal consumer protection laws.” [Mem. in Opp. at 6.]

         STANDARD

         Civil actions “brought in a State 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, ” unless expressly prohibited by a federal statute. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). District courts have federal question jurisdiction over “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. District courts have diversity jurisdiction when “the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between, ” inter alia, “citizens of different States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1).

         This district court has stated:

There is a strong presumption against removal. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The statute authorizing removal is strictly construed, and the removing party has the burden of establishing that removal was proper. Moore-Thomas v. Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009).

Brown v. City & Cty. of Honolulu, CV No. 14-00354 HG-KSC, 2015 WL 1564961, at *2 (D. Hawai`i Apr. 7, 2015).

         DISCUSSION

         I. Federal ...


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