United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
X. ROSS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before this Court is plaintiff Portfolio Recovery's
motion to remand, filed pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447.
(Docket No. 8). The motion will be granted to the extent
Portfolio Recovery seeks to remand this case to the 21st
Judicial Circuit Court.
about December 9, 2016, Portfolio Recovery filed a civil
complaint in the 21st Judicial Circuit Court in St. Louis
County, Missouri, seeking a judgment in the amount of $4,
710.44 against defendant Douglas D. Johnson
("Johnson"), a Missouri resident. See Portfolio
Recovery v. Douglas D. Johnson, case no. 16SL-AC31605
(21st Jud. Cir. Dec. 9, 2016). Briefly, the complaint alleges
that Portfolio Recovery's assignor, U.S. Bank, N.A.,
issued a credit card to Johnson, that there is an outstanding
balance on the account, and Johnson has stopped making
9, 2017, Johnson filed a notice of removal in this Court.
Although rambling and confusing, the notice of removal
apparently bases removal jurisdiction on federal question
jurisdiction. Johnson avers: "[t]his civil action stems
from a lawsuit filed in the 21st Judicial Circuit court of ST
LOUIS COUNTY MISSOURI. (Case No:
16SL-AC36105)." (Docket No. 1) (emphasis in original).
Johnson states that "[o]n numerous occasions they were
asked to validate the debt" and that:
Their refusal to produce shows them in violation of CFR 807.
And § 808. Unfair practices in accordance TITLE 28 USC
CHAPTER 176 - FEDERAL DEBT COLLECTION PROCEDURE The Federal
Debt Collection Procedure places all courts under equity and
Commerce and under the International Monetary Fund.
(Id.) (emphasis in original). Along with the notice
of removal, Johnson filed a motion seeking leave to proceed
in forma pauperis (Docket No. 3).
5, 2017, Portfolio Recovery filed the instant Motion to
Remand, arguing, inter alia, that this matter should
be remanded because there is no basis for federal
jurisdiction. Johnson has not responded to the motion, and
the time for doing so has passed. For the reasons discussed
below, the Court finds that this action is not removable to
federal court. Johnson will be permitted to proceed in
forma pauperis in these proceedings only, and this
action will be remanded to the 21st Judicial Circuit Court.
defendant may remove a civil action from state court to
federal court only if the claims could have been filed in
federal court originally. 28 U.S.C. § 1441; Gore v.
Trans World Airlines, 210 F.3d 944, 948 (8th Cir. 2000).
In removal cases, the district court reviews the complaint or
petition in the underlying case to determine federal
jurisdiction. St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab
Co., 303 U.S. 283 (1938). The district court may also
look to the notice of removal to determine its jurisdiction.
Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. v. Johns-Manville
Sales Corp., 626 F.2d 280 (3rd Cir. 1980).
based on "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). The removing defendant, as the party
invoking jurisdiction, bears the burden of proving that all
prerequisites to jurisdiction are satisfied. Central Iowa
Power Co-op. v. Midwest Independent Transmission System
Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009). The
district court must construe the removal statute narrowly,
and resolve all doubts regarding federal jurisdiction in
favor of remand. Id.
Portfolio Recovery's complaint is based solely upon state
law. It raises no federal question, and therefore can provide
no basis for federal question jurisdiction. The Court has
also reviewed Johnson's notice of removal, and concludes
that it provides no basis for federal question jurisdiction.
Johnson cites the Federal Debt Collection Procedure Act,
which relates to debts and judgments owed to the United
States, a situation irrelevant to this case. Johnson also
appears to name federal regulations and statutes, but it is
either unclear exactly what he is citing, or how it relates
to his case. Finally, to the extent Johnson can be understood
to claim the right to removal because he has a defense,
counterclaim or declaratory judgment action based upon
federal law, such claim fails. Caterpillar Inc., 482
U.S. at 393 (a case may not be removed to federal court on
the basis of a federal defense); (First Nat. Bank of
Pulaski v. Curry, 301 F.3d 456, 462 (6th Cir. 2002)
("[c]ounterclaims, cross-claims, and third-party claims
cannot be the basis for removal" under § 1441);
Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado Air Circulation Systems,
Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 831 (2002) (a counterclaim cannot
establish "arising under" jurisdiction).
if jurisdiction exists at all, it must be predicated upon
diversity of citizenship. However, the amount in controversy
in Portfolio Recovery's complaint is less than the
jurisdictional threshold. See 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). Even if the requirements for diversity jurisdiction
were met, this action would not be removable because Johnson
is a citizen of the state in which the action was brought.
See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) (actions where
jurisdiction is predicated solely on diversity are
"removable only if none of the parties in interest
properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the
State in which such action is brought."). This action
will therefore be remanded to the 21st Judicial Circuit Court
in St. Louis County, Missouri.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Johnson's motion for leave to
proceed in forma pauperis (Docket No. 3) is ...