January 14, 2014
FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff,
SHAWN GUSE, ANGELA WOESSNER, JOHN DOE, and MARY ROE, Defendants.
Gerald G. Workinger, Jr. and
Jessica L. Blanner, USSET, WEINGARDEN & LIEBO, PLLP, for plaintiff.
William B. Butler, BUTLER
LIBERTY LAW, LLC, for defendants Shawn Guse and Angela Woessner.
PATRICK J. SCHILTZ,
Plaintiff Federal National Mortgage Association initiated this
eviction action in Minnesota state court. Defendants removed the action to this
Court on the basis of 28 U.S.C. §
1345, which creates original federal jurisdiction over "civil actions, suits or
proceedings commenced by the United States, or by any agency or officer thereof
expressly authorized to sue by Act of Congress." See ECF No. 1 ¶ 3. This
matter is before the Court on defendants' objection to the December 6, 2013
Report and Recommendation ("R&R") of Magistrate Judge Janie S. Mayeron.
Judge Mayeron recommends that the Court abstain from exercising jurisdiction and
remand the case to state court. The Court has conducted a de novo review.
See 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1); Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b).
Citing Colorado River Water Conservation District v. United
States, 424 U.S. 800 (1976), defendants contend that a federal court can
never abstain from exercising jurisdiction over a case when that case falls
within the court's federal-question jurisdiction. There are two glaring problems
with defendants' argument:
First, this is not a case involving federal-question jurisdiction.
Instead, this is an ordinary eviction action arising under state law, and it was
removed to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1345, not under 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Defendants appear to argue that every case to which the United States is
a party involves federal-question jurisdiction. But the United States can be a
party to a lawsuit that does not involve any question of federal law. If
defendants were correct that a federal court has jurisdiction over every case to
which the United States is a party under § 1331, then § 1345 would have no
reason for existing. In support of their argument, defendants cite nothing
except Article III, § 2 of the Constitution. But Article III, § 2 explicitly
distinguishes between federal-question jurisdiction ("Cases, in Law and Equity,
arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties
made, or which shall be made, under their Authority") and U.S.-party
jurisdiction ("Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party").
Moreover, Article III, § 2 creates all federal jurisdiction - including
not only the federal-question jurisdiction implemented in § 1331, and the
U.S.-party jurisdiction implemented in § 1345, but, for example, the diversity
jurisdiction implemented in 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Just as diversity jurisdiction is
plainly not federal-question jurisdiction, so, too, U.S.-party jurisdiction is
plainly not federal-question jurisdiction.
Second, defendants are also mistaken in asserting that Colorado
River "expressly held that abstention did not apply to federal question
jurisdiction where the United States was a party...." ECF No. 31 at 3. The
portion of Colorado River that defendants cite in support of their
argument held that the dismissal of the federal action was not supported by any
of the abstention doctrines that had previously been recognized. See
Colorado River, 424 U.S. at 813-17. But the reason Colorado River
is a landmark decision is because it went on to recognize a new ground
for abstention - universally known as " Colorado River abstention" - in a
portion of the opinion that defendants neither cite nor discuss. See id.
In Colorado River, the United States filed a federal lawsuit
involving both state and federal claims. Id. at 805, 815-16. The Supreme
Court nevertheless held that the district court properly dismissed the federal
action in favor of a parallel state proceeding. Id. at 821. The Supreme
Court upheld the district court's dismissal despite noting that "[t]he District
Court... would have had jurisdiction of this suit under the general
federal-question jurisdiction of 28 U.S.C. § 1331." Id. at 809 n.15. In
other words, the Supreme Court upheld the district court's dismissal of the
federal lawsuit despite the fact that the United States was a party and
federal-question jurisdiction over the lawsuit existed. Far from supporting
defendants' position, Colorado River directly refutes it.
For these reasons, the Court adopts the R&R.
Based on the foregoing, and on all of the files, records, and
proceedings herein, the Court OVERRULES defendants' objection [ECF No. 31] and
ADOPTS the December 6, 2013 R&R [ECF No. 30]. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT this
action is REMANDED to the Minnesota
LET JUDGMENT BE ENTERED ACCORDINGLY.