Parties seeking to litigate a civil action can have their case heard in federal court provided they can meet one of two sets of jurisdictional requirements. If the plaintiff presents a cause of action (or a defendant counterclaims with a cause of action) which involves a federal question – the resolution of an issue governed by the United States Constitution, a federal statute or federal regulation – the District Court can accept jurisdiction under such basis. Or if a party in one state sues a party from another, the District Court may have what is known as “diversity jurisdiction” provided the amount of damages being sought exceeds a jurisdictional limit which now is set at $75,000.
In THR California, LP v. Acevedo, et. al., No. CV 14-492-UA (DUTYx). (D. D.Ct. Calif 2014), the District Court considered whether it possessed jurisdiction over a dispute filed by the Plaintiff in the state court system. One of the several defendants in this unlawful detainer case filed a Notice of Removal in an effort to have the District Court hear the case instead of the usual state court which hears such matters. It claimed that the District Court had jurisdiction on the ground that a federal question was presented by the case. But the court found that the “the underlying unlawful detainer action does not raise any federal legal question. Nor does it appear that federal law is a necessary element of any of plaintiff’s claims.
This defendant also contended that the court had diversity jurisdiction because the company filing the suit is a Delaware corporation. But the District Court determined that it could not establish diversity jurisdiction for two reasons: (1) it lacked knowledge of the citizenship of the Defendant and her partners and (2) while the Plaintiff is a Delaware corporation, it is authorized to conduct business in the state of California. For these reasons, the District Court remanded the case back to the appropriate state court.
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