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Whitley v. Borja

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

May 28, 2019

CAROL A. WHITLEY, Plaintiff,
PAUL D. BORJA, et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court sua sponte. The Court has examined the basis upon which this matter was removed and concludes that the Court is without subject matter jurisdiction. The matter is therefore remanded to the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri.

         Procedural Background

         Plaintiff, a Missouri citizen, filed the instant action in the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri against Defendants on August 7, 2018. Plaintiff's petition is an action to quiet title. Defendants removed the case under 28 U.S.C. § 1446 on the bases of both federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Defendants gives as grounds for federal question jurisdiction a reference in the petition to the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1601, et seq. As for diversity jurisdiction, Defendants claim that the only non- fraudulently named defendant is Flagstar Bank, FSB, which is a citizen of Michigan.

         Legal Standards

         “A defendant may remove a state law claim to federal court only if the action originally could have been filed there.” In re Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 619 (8th Cir. 2010) (citing Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)). The removing defendant bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Altimore v. Mount Mercy Coll., 420 F.3d 763, 768 (8th Cir. 2005). “All doubts about federal jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of remand to state court.” In re Prempro, 591 F.3d at 620 (citing Wilkinson v. Shackelford, 478 F.3d 957, 963 (8th Cir. 2007)). A case must be remanded if, at anytime, it appears that the district court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         “[F]ederal question jurisdiction extends only to ‘civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.'” Mamot Feed Lot and Trucking v. Hobson, 539 F.3d 898, 902 (8th Cir. 2008) (quoting 28 U.S.C. § 1331). “‘Removal based on federal question jurisdiction is governed by the well pleaded complaint rule: jurisdiction is established only if a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.'” McLain v. Andersen Corp., 567 F.3d 956, 963-964 (8th Cir 2009) (quoting Pet Quarters, Inc. v. Depository Trust and Clearing Corp., 559 F.3d 772, 779 (8th Cir. 2009)).

         Diversity of citizenship jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 requires an amount in controversy greater than $75, 000 and complete diversity of citizenship among the litigants. “Complete diversity of citizenship exists where no defendant holds citizenship in the same state where any plaintiff holds citizenship.” OnePoint Solutions, LLC v. Borchert, 486 F.3d 342, 346 (8th Cir. 2007).


         Federal Question Jurisdiction

         Plaintiff's petition is titled “Quiet Title Suit in the Nature of a Common Law Claim.” Therein, she states “[I] am moving this action pursuant to the authorities of Article I, Section 9 Missouri Constitution (1821) to Quiet Title against the Wrongdoers cf. V.A.M.S. § 527.150.” V.A.M.S. § 527.150 states in pertinent part:

Any person claiming any title, estate or interest in real property, whether the same be legal or equitable, certain or contingent, present or in reversion, or remainder, whether in possession or not, may institute an action against any person or persons having or claiming to have any title, estate or interest in such property, whether in possession or not, to ascertain and determine the estate, title and interest of said parties, respectively, in such real estate, and to define and adjudge by its judgment or decree the title, estate and interest of the parties severally in and to such real property.

         Although the petition is styled as a state-law action to quiet title, Defendants argue that Plaintiff's claim arises under federal law due to Plaintiff's mention of the Truth in Lending Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1635, (“TILA”) in her petition. Plaintiff states in her petition that she mailed a notice of rescission to Defendants which was “supported by” TILA. Defendants claim that “it appears that Plaintiff pleads that the Defendants failed to recognize rescission of her mortgage loan in violation of [TILA.]” The Court finds this argument unpersuasive. Plaintiff does not allege a claim under TILA, nor does she offer fact statements relating to the elements of a TILA claim. Evidently, none of the Defendants are the original mortgagee/creditor. The sole claim alleged by Plaintiff is to quiet title. Federal question jurisdiction does not exist.

         Diversity ...

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