United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
A. ROSS, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before this Court is the motion of plaintiff Sansone Group
DDR LLC ("Sansone") to remand this action to the
22nd Judicial Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis,
Associate Judge Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447.
(Docket No. 6). For the reasons discussed below, the motion
will be granted, and this case will be remanded.
7, 2019, Sansone filed a petition in the 22nd Judicial
Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis, Associate Circuit
Division, alleging that defendant Wilma M. Pennington-Thurman
("Pennington-Thurman") breached a written
residential lease. See Sansone Group LLC v.
Pennington-Thurman, No. 1922-AC05827 (22nd Jud. Cir.
2019). Sansone sought judgment under Missouri state law for
$1, 800 in unpaid rent, along with possession of the
28, 2019, Pennington-Thurman filed a Notice of Removal in
this Court, stating "[t]his is a counterclaim filed by
Defendant Wilma Pennington-Thurman and those similarly
situated." (Docket No. 1). She stated she was a senior
citizen living in subsidized housing, that she refused to pay
rent until the property was repaired, and that living at the
property had made her ill. She invoked this Court's
federal question jurisdiction, and cited various federal
filed the instant motion on June 13, 2019, seeking remand
pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447. In support, Sansone argues
that the state court petition is based solely upon state law,
that there is no factual basis to support diversity
jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction, and that
Pennington-Thurman cannot establish federal question
jurisdiction by alleging a counterclaim. Pennington-Thurman
has not responded, and the time for doing so has passed.
motion is well taken. "Federal courts are courts of
limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized
by Constitution and statute." Kokkonen v. Guardian
Life Ins. Co. of America, 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). If a
federal court takes action in a dispute over which it lacks
subject matter jurisdiction, that action is a nullity.
American Fire & Casualty Co. v. Finn, 341 U.S.
state-court actions that originally could have been filed in
federal court may be removed to federal court by the
defendant." Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482
U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Accordingly, the action must arise
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States, 28 U.S.C. § 1331, or the diversity and amount in
controversy requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 must be
met. Id; see also Peters v. Union Pacific R. Co., 80
F.3d 257, 260 (8th Cir. 1996). The party seeing removal and
opposing remand bears the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction. In re Business Men's Assur. Co. of
America, 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993). Doubts
concerning federal jurisdiction should be resolved in favor
of remand. Id.
presence or absence of 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
oftheplaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint." Caterpillar Inc., 482 U.S. at 392
(emphasis added); see also Holmes Group, Inc. v. Vornado
Air Circulation Systems, Inc., 535 U.S. 826,
830 (2002) (the well-pleaded complaint rule governs whether a
case "arises under" federal law for purposes of
determining federal question jurisdiction). Here, review of
Sansone's petition shows it is based solely upon Missouri
law. It presents no federal question, and therefore can
provide no basis for federal question jurisdiction. In her
Notice of Removal and accompanying documents,
Pennington-Thurman invokes this Court's federal question
jurisdiction because she has a counterclaim premised upon
federal law. However, this is an improper basis for removal.
A counterclaim "cannot serve as the basis for
'arising under' jurisdiction." Holmes Group,
Inc., 535 U.S. at 831; see also First Nat. Bank of
Pulaski v. Curry, 301 F.3d 456, 462 (6th Cir. 2002) (a
counterclaim cannot establish "arising under"
if jurisdiction exists at all, it must be predicated upon
diversity of citizenship. However, the parties are not
diverse, and the amount in controversy in Sansone's
petition is below 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 Pennington-Thurman is a citizen of
Missouri, where the action was brought. See 28
U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2) (actions removable solely on the
basis of diversity of citizenship "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
this action will be remanded to the 22nd Judicial Circuit
Court of the City of St. Louis, Associate Judge Division.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs Motion
to Remand (Docket No. 6) is GRANTED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that this case is
REMANDED to the 22nd Judicial Circuit Court
of the City of St. Louis, Associate Judge Division, pursuant
to 28 U.S.C. § ...