United States District Court, D. Oregon, Eugene Division
ST. VINCENT de PAUL SOCIETY OF LANE COUNTY, an Oregon nonprofit Corporation, Plaintiff,
KELLY RAE CULPEPPER, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
Aiken, United States District Judge.
case, plaintiff St. Vincent de Paul Society of Lane County
("St. Vincent") moves for an order remanding this
matter back to state court. Defendant Kelly Rae Culpepper
("Culpepper") argues that this matter should remain
before this Court, Based on the reason set forth below,
plaintiffs Motion to Remand to State Court (doc. 4) is
case originated in Oregon State Court as a Forcible Entry and
Detainer ("FED") action. On July 25, 2017,
plaintiff filed this action in the Circuit Court of the State
of Oregon for Lane County to evict defendant for alleged
repeated violations of plaintiff s policies for tenants
leasing units. On July 31, 2017, defendant filed an answer
and provided an affirmative defense, discriminatory conduct
under Or. Rev. Stat. § 90.390, and four counterclaims:
(1) retaliatory conduct by landlord under Or. Rev. Stat.
§ 90.385, (2) discrimination and retaliatory conduct
under the Fair Housing Act ("FHA"), (3) defamation,
and (4) slander per se. (doc. 1) On August 7, 2017, defendant
filed a Notice of Removal (doc. 1) to federal court relying
on the FHA counterclaim as the basis for removal to federal
now moves the Court for an order remanding this case back to
state court arguing that (1) Oregon law does not allow
defendant to include a FHA counterclaim in an FED proceeding,
(2) defendant's civil rights are protected under Oregon
statutes, and (3) defendant has the right to pursue damages
under the FHA in a separate action.
right to remove a case to federal court is entirely a
creature of statute. See Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy
Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir.1979). The Ninth
Circuit "strictly construe[s] the removal statute
against removal jurisdiction, " and "[f]ederal
jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the
right of removal in the first instance." Gaits v.
Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.1992).
Counterclaims in a state-court action, even if they rely
exclusively on federal substantive law, do not qualify a case
for federal-court cognizance. Vadert v. Discover
Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 61-62 (2009). 28 U.S.C. §
1447(c) authorizes the court to remand a case for lack of
subject matter jurisdiction, See Brockman v.
Merabank, 40 F.3d 1013, 1015 (9th Cir.1994). A district
court may also remand a case for lack of an objective
reasonable basis for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1443.
See Patel v. Del Taco, Inc., 446 F.3d 996, 999 (9th
basis for removal to federal court is based on two statutes:
(1) 28 U.S.C. § 1331 - federal question and (2) 28
U.S.C. § 1443 - civil rights cases.
28 U.S.C. § 1331-Federal Question
Federal Jurisdiction based on a Counterclaim
relies upon 28 U.S.C. § 1331, which vests in federal
district courts jurisdiction over "all civil actions
arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the
United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331 "Under the
established well-pleaded complaint rule, however, a suit
'arises under' federal law 'only when the
plaintiffs statement of his own cause of action
shows that it is based upon [federal law].'"
Vaden, 556 U.S. at 61-62 (emphasis added) (quoting
Louisville & Nashville R. Co. v. Mottley, 211
U.S. 149, 152 (1908)).
federal jurisdiction cannot rest upon an actual or
anticipated counterclaim. Holmes Grp., Inc. v. Vornado
Air Circulation Sys., Inc., 535 U.S. 826, 832 (2002);
ARCO Envtl. Remediation, LLC v. Dep't of Health &
Envtl. Quality of Montana, 213 F.3d 1108, 1113 (9th Cir.
2000) ("[T]he existence of federal jurisdiction depends
solely on the plaintiffs claims for relief and not on
anticipated defenses to those claims."). Counterclaims
in state-court action, even if they rely exclusively on
federal substantive law, do not qualify a case for
federal-court cognizance. Vaden, 556 U.S. at 61-62.
are of course exceptions to the well-pleaded complaint rule.
For instance, under the "artful pleading rule, " a
plaintiff may not avoid removal through the omission of
necessary federal questions in the complaint. ARCO Envtl.
Remediation, LLC, 213 F.3d at 1114. Another exception to
the well-pleaded complaint rule is complete preemption.
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams,482 U.S. 386, 393
(1987). "Once an area of state law has been completely
pre-empted, any claim purportedly based on that ...