United States District Court, D. Colorado
ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE
A. BRIMMER CHIEF UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Court takes up this matter sua sponte on
defendants' Notice of Removal [Docket No. 1]. Defendants
state that the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
this lawsuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
1332. Docket No. 1 at 1.
every case and at every stage of the proceeding, a federal
court must satisfy itself as to its own jurisdiction, even if
doing so requires sua sponte action. See
Citizens Concerned for Separation of Church & State v.
City & County of Denver, 628 F.2d 1289, 1297 (10th
Cir. 1980). Absent an assurance that jurisdiction exists, a
court may not proceed in a case. See Cunningham v. BHP
Petroleum Great Britain PLC, 427 F.3d 1238, 1245 (10th
Cir. 2005). Courts are well-advised to raise the issue of
jurisdiction on their own, regardless of parties'
apparent acquiescence. First, it is the Court's duty to
do so. Tuck v. United Servs. Auto. Ass'n, 859
F.2d 842, 844 (10th Cir. 1988). Second, regarding subject
matter jurisdiction, “the consent of the parties is
irrelevant, principles of estoppel do not apply, and a party
does not waive the requirement by failing to challenge
jurisdiction.” Ins. Corp. of Ireland v. Compagnie
des Bauxites de Guinee, 456 U.S. 694, 702 (1982)
(internal citations omitted). Finally, delay in addressing
the issue only compounds the problem if, despite much time
and expense having been dedicated to the case, a lack of
jurisdiction causes it to be dismissed. See U.S. Fire
Ins. Co. v. Pinkard Constr. Co., No.
09-cv-00491-PAB-MJW, 2009 WL 2338116, at *3 (D. Colo. July
party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
establishing such jurisdiction as a threshold matter.”
Radil v. Sanborn W. Camps, Inc., 384 F.3d 1220, 1224
(10th Cir. 2004). Defendants assert that this Court has
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and
FEDERAL QUESTION JURISDICTION
28 U.S.C. § 1331, “district courts shall have
original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. “Federal courts must strictly
construe their removal jurisdiction.” Envtl.
Remediation Holding Corp. v. Talisman Capital Opportunity
Fund, L.P., 106 F.Supp.2d 1088, 1092 (D. Colo. 2000).
“[A]ll doubts are to be resolved against
removal.” Fajen v. Foundation Reserve Ins. Co.,
Inc., 683 F.2d 331, 333 (10th Cir. 1982). Thus, the
Court presumes that no jurisdiction exists absent an adequate
showing by the party invoking federal jurisdiction.
Lorentzen v. Lorentzen, No. 09-cv-00506-PAB, 2009 WL
641299, at *1 (D. Colo. Mar. 11, 2009).
the longstanding well-pleaded complaint rule . . . a suit
‘arises under' federal law only when the
plaintiff's statement of his own cause of action shows
that it is based upon federal law.” Vaden v.
Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009) (quoting
Louisville & Nashville R.R. Co. v. Mottley, 211
U.S. 149, 152 (1908)) (internal quotation marks and
alteration marks omitted). In other words, “[a]s a
general rule, absent diversity jurisdiction, a case will not
be removable if the complaint does not affirmatively allege a
federal claim.” Beneficial Nat'l Bank v.
Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 6 (2003). To find removal
jurisdiction, “the required federal right or immunity
must be an essential element of the plaintiff's cause of
action, and . . . the federal controversy must be disclosed
upon the face of the complaint, unaided by the answer or by
the petition for removal.” Fajen, 683 F.2d at
333 (internal quotation marks omitted).
case, defendants state that “[t]he federal claims upon
which removal is based have revealed themselves, at the time
of service of the Douglas County Complaint by
Plaintiff.” Docket No. 1 at 1. However, the state court
filing upon which defendants rely - plaintiff's Petition
for an Order to Show Cause Why Respondents' Documents
Should Not be Declared Invalid Under Colo. R. Civ. P. 105.1
and Colo. Rev. Stat. § 38-35-204 [Docket No. 3] - does
not support such a contention. “For a case to arise
under federal law within the meaning of § 1331, the
plaintiff's ‘well-pleaded complaint' must
establish one of two things: ‘either that federal law
creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right
to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial
question of federal law.'” Firstenberg v. City
of Santa Fe, N.M., 696 F.3d 1018, 1023 (10th Cir. 2012)
(quoting Nicodemus v. Union Pac. Corp., 440 F.3d
1227, 1232 (10th Cir. 2006)). Plaintiff's petition seeks
relief exclusively under Colorado law. See Docket
No. 3 at 2-5. Because plaintiff's cause of action was not
created by federal law, and its right to relief does not
depend on the resolution of a substantial question of federal
law, it does not appear from the face of plaintiff's
petition that its claim arises under federal law or that this
Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
See Warner Bros. Records, Inc. v. R. A. Ridges Distrib.
Co., Inc., 475 F.2d 262, 264 (10th Cir. 1973) (no right
to removal on face of plaintiff's complaint, which
“[did] not invoke any federal laws, ”
“[made] no mention of a federal law, ” and did
not “allege that the cause [arose] under any such
further state that “[r]elated civil rights violations
are contained in the following actions 1) Complaint and
Motion for Summary Judgment, Douglas County District Court
#2019CV5; 2) Action to Quiet Title in Douglas County District
Court #2103-CV-294; and 3) United States District Civil case
No.1:15-cv-1486, which are incorporated herein by
reference.” Docket No. 1 at 1-2. Defendants contend
that “these cases are inseparably-related to this case
on their face and elements of those cases support this
removal and relief in favor of the defendants.”
Id. at 2.
contentions are unavailing. Federal jurisdiction must be
“disclosed upon the face of the complaint.”
Fajen, 683 F.2d at 333. Thus, defendants cannot
reply on separate actions in order to invoke federal question
jurisdiction here. See Breckenridge Prop. Fund 2016, LLC
v. Lam, 2019 WL 2296209, at *2 (E.D. Cal. May 30, 2019)
(“Defendant cannot inject a federal issue through her
answer or through references to other lawsuits she has
filed.”). To the extent that defendants' Notice of
Removal could be read to imply that defendants may raise a
defense under federal law, “[a] defense that raises a
federal question is inadequate to confer federal
jurisdiction.” Merrell Dow Pharms. Inc. v.
Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986). The Court finds
that, based on the face of plaintiff's state-court
petition, it does not have federal question jurisdiction over
this case, and, for this reason, removal cannot properly be
based on 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
28 U.S.C. § 1332, “district courts shall 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.” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). The facts presently alleged are insufficient to
establish the citizenship of either defendant.
Notice of Removal alleges that “Plaintiff's
business address is in Washington; D.C., while the real
property in question is in Colorado, and the defendants
resided in Colorado at the time the controversy arose and at
the time the actions were filed.” Docket No. 1 at 1.
Plaintiff, as a federally chartered corporation, “is
incorporated under acts of Congress rather than state laws,
[and] . . . generally has national citizenship but no state
citizenship.” Hayward v. Chase Home Fin., LLC,
2011 WL 2881298, at *3 (N.D. Tex. July 18, 2011) (citing
Bankers Trust Co. v. Tex. & Pac. R.R. Co., 241
U.S. 295 (1916)). “In a suit where one of the [parties]
has only national citizenship but no state citizenship,
diversity is impossible because the suit is not between
citizens of different states.” Id. However,
there are certain “exceptions to the general rule that
a federally chartered corporation has only national
citizenship.” Id. Once such exception exists
when “Congress has passed legislation specifying that
the corporation is a citizen of a particular state for
jurisdictional purposes.” Id.
1717 of Title 12 of the United States Code provides that the
“Federal National Mortgage Association . . . shall
maintain its principal office in the District of Columbia or
the metropolitan area thereof and shall be deemed, for
purposes of jurisdiction and venue in civil actions, to be a
District of Columbia corporation.” 12 U.S.C. §
1717(a)(2)(B). Thus, because Congress has specified that
plaintiff shall be deemed a citizen of the District of