United States District Court, D. Minnesota
Picha and Kristy Picha, Pro Se Plaintiffs
Beranek Brandt, Larson King, LLP, for Defendant SunTrust
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
T. SCHULTZ UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
SunTrust Bank removed this lawsuit to federal court on
August 13, 2019 alleging jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship. Notice of Removal ¶¶ 5-16, Docket No.
1. On August 26, 2019 Plaintiffs Ryan Picha and Kristy Picha
filed a “Motion to Quash Process of Removal, to Strike,
Overrule, and Deny Defendants' Motion to Remove and to
Remand to the State to Proceed Regarding Substantive and
Common Law Jural Rights Protections.” Docket No. 6. For
the reasons stated below, the Court concludes that
SunTrust's removal of this lawsuit was proper and
therefore recommends denying Plaintiffs' motion to
about June 24, 2019 the Pichas initiated this lawsuit in
Anoka County District Court. Complaint, Docket No. 1-1. The
Complaint seeks to quiet title to the real property at issue,
enjoin any foreclosure or sale, release all liens, declare
the Pichas the owners of the property, and recover damages.
Id. at 2, 29-30. The Pichas allege the property is
valued at over $200, 000 and seek other damages in the amount
of $66, 900. Id. at 18. The Complaint states that
they are citizens of Minnesota. Id. at 4, 7.
the lawsuit was not served on SunTrust, SunTrust became aware
of the Complaint on or about July 15, 2019. Notice of Removal
¶ 3, Docket No. 1. On August 13, 2019 SunTrust removed
the lawsuit to federal court under 28 U.S.C. § 1332
alleging diversity of citizenship and an amount in
controversy in excess of $75, 000. Id. ¶¶
5-9. SunTrust alleges that, for diversity purposes, it is a
citizen of Georgia; Mortgage Electronic Registration System
(MERS) is a citizen of Virginia and Delaware; CMG Mortgage,
Inc. is a citizen of California; and Northpointe is a citizen
of Michigan. Id. ¶¶ 12-16.
August 26, 2019 the Pichas filed a “Motion to Quash
Process of Removal, to Strike, Overrule, and Deny
Defendants' Motion to Remove and to Remand to the State
to Proceed Regarding Substantive and Common Law Jural Rights
Protections.” Docket No. 6. They did not comply with
the requirements of District of Minnesota Local Rule 7.1 for
filing civil motions and did not obtain a hearing date for
their motion to remand. On August 28, 2019 SunTrust filed a
response opposing the motion. Docket No. 7.
in a civil action in state court may remove it to federal
court if the action could have originally been brought there.
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have “original
jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in
controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive
of interest and costs, and is between . . . citizens of
different States.” Id. § 1332(a).
Complete diversity of citizenship is required. Owen
Equipment & Erection Co. v. Kroger, 437 U.S. 365,
373 (1978). Thus, diversity jurisdiction exists only when
each defendant is a citizen of a different State from each
plaintiff. Id. In addition, when federal court
jurisdiction is based on diversity of citizenship, removal is
permissible only if no defendant is a citizen of the State in
which the action is brought. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). The
party seeking removal bears the burden to establish federal
subject matter jurisdiction. Cent. Iowa Power Coop. v.
Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561
F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009).
Pichas' remand motion does not dispute the State of
citizenship of any party named in the lawsuit, or that there
is complete diversity of citizenship among the named parties.
Rather, they contend there are unnamed nonparty attorneys who
are Minnesota citizens and were involved in debt collection
activities, apparently arguing that this negates diversity
jurisdiction. See Motion at 6-9, Docket No. 6. But
the Pichas did not name them as defendants in their
Complaint, so whether any of them is a Minnesota citizen is
irrelevant. See Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S.
81, 88, 91 (2005) (removing defendant does not have the
burden to negate the existence of a potential codefendant
whose presence in the action would destroy diversity).
Plaintiffs cite is inapplicable to the facts here. For
example, they cite § 1441(b)(2), which prohibits removal
on diversity grounds if a defendant is a citizen of the forum
state. Motion at 9-10, Docket No. 6. No. defendant here is a
citizen of Minnesota. They also argue that Defendants acted
in “bad faith” under § 1446(c)(1).
Id. at 7-8. But this provision pertains to the
one-year limitation period for removal (which is not at issue
here), and it affords relief to a removing defendant, not to
a plaintiff seeking remand. The remainder of Plaintiffs'
motion argues that no federal question is presented in their
Complaint. Id. at 2-4, 6, 12. But SunTrust did not
invoke federal question jurisdiction under § 1331 to
remove this action; rather, its removal is based on diversity
jurisdiction under § 1332. Therefore, the absence of a
federal question does not compel remand.
remand motion makes inconsistent statements regarding the
jurisdictional amount in controversy. They make a conclusory
statement at the end of their motion that “[f]or
diversity purposes the $75k threshold was not even met,
” but they offer no arguments in support. See
Motion at 12, Docket No. 6. Elsewhere they suggest the
threshold was met due to the value of the property at issue:
“Additionally, Plaintiff seeks the insurance limits
which may be less than $75, 000.00 but state law has stated
that the value of the suit is the certified appraised price
of the HOME.” Id. at 7. In actions for
declaratory or injunctive relief, the amount in controversy
is measured by the value of the object of the litigation.
James Neff Kramper Family Farm P'ship v. IBP,
Inc., 393 F.3d 828, 833 (8th Cir. 2005). Here
the Complaint states that the property at issue has a value
of at least $200, 000 and that Plaintiffs seek other damages
in the amount of $66, 900. Complaint at 18, Docket No. 1-1.
The Court finds that the amount in controversy requirement is