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U.S. Bank National Association v. Amina

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

July 6, 2018

U.S. BANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION, AS TRUSTEE FOR J.P. MORGAN MORTGAGE ACQUISITION TRUST 2006-WMC2, ASSET BACKED PASS-THROUGH CERTIFICATES, SERIES 2006-WMC2, Plaintiff,
v.
DONNA MAE AMINA, ALSO KNOWN AS DONNA M. AMINA; MELVIN KEAKAKU AMINA ALSO KNOWN AS MELVIN K. AMINA; ASSOCIATION OF APARTMENT OWNERS OF 2304 METCALF STREET; and DOES 1 through 20, Inclusive, Defendants.

          FINDINGS AND RECOMMENDATION TO GRANT PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

          Kevin S.C. Chang United States Magistrate Judge.

         Before the Court is Plaintiff U.S. Bank National Association, as Trustee for J.P. Morgan Mortgage Acquisition Trust 2006-WMC2, Asset Backed Pass-Through Certificates, Series 2006-WMC2's (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Remand, filed June 25, 2018. At the Court's direction, Plaintiff filed a Supplemental Memorandum on July 5, 2018.

         The Court elects to decide this matter without a hearing pursuant to Rule 7.2(d) of the Local Rules of Practice for the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii.[1] After careful consideration of the Motion, the Supplemental Memorandum, the record, and the applicable law, the Court HEREBY RECOMMENDS that Plaintiff's Motion be GRANTED for the reasons set forth below.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 5, 2018, Plaintiff commenced this action in the Circuit Court of the First Circuit, State of Hawaii. Plaintiff asserts two causes of action: 1) declaratory relief and 2) judicial foreclosure. Defendants Donna Mae Amina and Melvin Keakaku Amina (collectively “the Aminas”) were served with the Complaint on April 19, 2018. Mot., Ex. B.

         On June 14, 2018, the Aminas removed the action on the basis of federal question and diversity jurisdiction. Notice of Removal (“Notice”) at ¶¶ 6-7. Included in the Notice are the following averments: 1) the Notice is timely filed; 2) federal question jurisdiction exists because the foreclosure of a mortgage is an “attempt to collect” pursuant to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDCPA”); 3) diversity jurisdiction exists because the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000.00 and the action is between citizens of different states. Id. at ¶¶ 2, 6 & 7. The Aminas claim that they are not citizens of Hawaii nor are they domiciled here because the processes of Hawaii's statehood and membership in the union were legally defective.[2]

         The instant Motion followed.

         DISCUSSION

         Plaintiff seeks remand of this action to state court on the following grounds: 1) removal is untimely; 2) federal question jurisdiction is lacking; 3) diversity jurisdiction has not been established; and 4) 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2)[3] bars removal.

         The Aminas removed the instant case on the basis of federal question and diversity jurisdiction. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a civil action brought in a state court to federal district court if the district court has original jurisdiction. Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676, 679-80 (9th Cir. 2006). “Removal . . . statutes are ‘strictly construed,' and a ‘defendant seeking removal has the burden to establish that removal is proper and any doubt is resolved against removability.'” Hawaii ex rel. Louie v. HSBC Bank Nevada, N.A., 761 F.3d 1027, 1034 (9th Cir. 2014) (quoting Luther v. Countrywide Home Loans Serv. LP, 533 F.3d 1031, 1034 (9th Cir.2008)); Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1252 (9th Cir. 2006); California ex rel. Lockyer v. Dynegy, Inc., 375 F.3d 831, 838 (9th Cir. 2004).

         There is a strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, which “means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper,' and that the court resolves all ambiguity in favor of remand to state court.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (quoting Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam)); California ex rel. Lockyer, 375 F.3d at 838 (“[T]he burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls to the party invoking the statute.”); Durham, 445 F.3d at 1252 (Courts resolve any doubts about the propriety of removal in favor of remanding the case to state court). Courts should presume that a case lies outside the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts. Hunter, 582 F.3d at 1042.

         A. The Aminas Untimely Removed on the Basis of Federal Question Jurisdiction

         The timing of removal is governed by § 1446(b), which provides:

(1) The notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief ...

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