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Federal National Mortgage Association v. Busby

United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division

October 1, 2014

FEDERAL NATIONAL MORTGAGE ASSOCIATION, Plaintiff,
v.
RICHARD BUSBY et al, Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OF OPINION

VIRGINIA EMERSON HOPKINS, District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Plaintiff Federal National Mortgage Association originally filed this action to recover possession of land and property in the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama, on September 21, 2009. (Doc. 1-1 at 2). The case stems from the defendants' continued occupancy of property that was allegedly purchased by the plaintiff at a foreclosure sale. (Doc. 1-1 at 2; Doc. 1 at 1-2).

Defendant Marilyn Busby removed the litigation to this court on August 27, 2014, asserting both federal question and diversity under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 as bases for jurisdiction. (Doc. 1 at 2). Co-defendant Richard Busby consented to the removal. (Doc. 1 at 2-3). Plaintiff Fannie Mae filed a motion for remand on September 8, 2014, arguing that the notice of removal was untimely and that this court does not have jurisdiction. (Doc. 8).

Because the court concludes that it lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the court will GRANT the plaintiff's motion to REMAND the case to the Circuit Court of Jefferson County, Alabama.

II. GENERAL PRINCIPLES

"The inferior courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They are empowered to hear only those cases within the judicial power of the United States as defined by Article III of the Constitution, and which have been entrusted to them by a jurisdictional grant authorized by Congress." Univ. of South Alabama v. The American Tobacco Co., et al., 168 F.3d 405, 409 (11th Cir. 1999) (internal citations omitted). "Accordingly, when a federal court acts outside its statutory subject-matter jurisdiction, it violates the fundamental constitutional precept of limited federal power." Id. (internal citations omitted). "Simply put, once a federal court determines that it is without subject matter jurisdiction, the court is powerless to continue." Id. at 410 (citing Ex parte McCardle, 74 U.S. (7 Wall.) 506 (1868)).

"A necessary corollary to the concept that a federal court is powerless to act without jurisdiction is the equally unremarkable principle that a court should inquire into whether it has subject matter jurisdiction at the earliest possible stage in the proceedings." Univ. of S. Ala., 168 F.3d at 410. "Indeed, it is well settled that a federal court is obligated to inquire into subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte whenever it may be lacking." Id. (citing Fitzgerald v. Seaboard Sys. R.R., 760 F.2d 1249, 1251 (11th Cir. 1985) (per curiam)).

"In removal cases, the burden is on the party who sought removal to demonstrate that federal jurisdiction exists." Friedman v. New York Life Ins. Co., 410 F.3d 1350, 1353 (11th Cir. 2005) (citation omitted); Williams v. Best Buy Co., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir.2001). Moreover, "[b]ecause removal jurisdiction raises significant federalism concerns, federal courts are directed to construe removal statutes strictly." Univ. of S. Ala., 168 F.3d at 411 (citing Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941)).

Lastly, Congress has decreed and the Supreme Court has confirmed that - with the express exception of civil rights cases that have been removed - orders of remand by district courts based upon certain grounds, including in particular those premised upon lack of subject matter jurisdiction, are entirely insulated from review. More specifically, § 1447(d) provides:

An order remanding a case to the State court from which it was removed is not reviewable on appeal or otherwise, except that an order remanding a case to the State court from which it was removed pursuant to section 1443 of this title shall be reviewable by appeal or otherwise.

28 U.S.C. § 1447(d) (emphasis added); see also Kirchner v. Putnam Funds Trust, 547 U.S. 633, 642 (2006) (recognizing that "[w]here the [remand] order is based on one of the grounds enumerated in 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), review is unavailable no matter how plain the legal error in ordering the remand'") (citing Briscoe v. Bell, 432 U.S. 404, 413 n.13 (1977)); Powerex Corp. v. Reliant Energy Servs., Inc., 127 S.Ct. 2411, 2418 (2007) (holding that when "the District Court relied upon a ground that is colorably characterized as subject-matter jurisdiction, appellate review is barred by § 1447(d)").

III. SUBJECT MATTER ...


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