United States District Court, D. Delaware
DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE OF SUSSEX COUNTY, a political Subdivision of the State of Delaware, Plaintiff,
CLIFFORD E. POLK HEIRS, et al., Defendants,
GEORGE K. TRAMMELL, III, Proposed Intervenor.
Action No. 17-1448-RGA Superior Court of the State of
Delaware in and for Sussex County
K. Trammell, III, Seaford, Delaware. Proposed Intervenor.
ANDREWS, U.S. District Judge
K. Trammell, III, filed a notice of removal on October 16,
2017, of Department of Finance of Sussex County v.
Clifford E. Polk Heirs, Delaware State Court C.A. No.
S17T-07-004. (D.I. 2 & 2-1). Trammell appears pro
se and has been granted leave to proceed in forma
pauperis. (D.I. 4). For the reasons discussed below, the
Court will summarily remand the case to the Superior Court of
the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County.
AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
removed this case, citing 28 U.S.C § 1443(1) and §
1446, and states that he cannot enforce his equal rights in
the Delaware State Courts. (D.I. 2). Trammell identifies
himself as a defendant, intervenor collateral heir. He
alleges that he has been totally disenfranchised by Delaware
Superior Court judges. Trammell attached to the notice of
removal various exhibits, including: response to George K.
Trammell, Ill's motion to intervene, quash, dismiss and
stay filed in C.A. No. S17T-07-004; certificate of service to
Mr. Todd Lawson, Sheriff Robert T. Lee, and Sussex County
Administration Building; Sussex County Council tax bills and
real estate tax statement; praecipe for monition, monition,
and notice of delinquent taxes filed in C.A. No. S17T-07-004
on July 18, 2017; September 9, 2013 judgment by admission
summary possession filed in the Justice of the Peace Court of
the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County Court No. 17,
C.A. No. JP17-13-004242; 42 U.S.C. § 2000h-2; August 8,
2017 order entered in the United State Court of Appeals for
the Third Circuit in Trammell v. Governor of
Delaware, No. 17-2588; last will and testament of Maria
Polk; and register of wills receipt dated March 2, 2011.
(D.I. 2-1 & 2-2).
Court takes judicial notice that Plaintiff Department of
Finance of Sussex County commenced the monition action on
July 17, 2017 against Clifford E. Polk heirs, Joann Carroll,
Eulalia Derrickson, and Corine Hollanworth, for unpaid
property taxes for the years 2010 through 2015. (D.I. 2-1 at
11, 13). Trammel was not named as a defendant. On August 15,
2017, Trammell filed a verified peremptory petition for writ
of prohibition in the Delaware Supreme Court, No. 323, 2017,
asking the Delaware Supreme Court to issue a writ of
prohibition to the Superior Court to prevent a sheriffs sale
of real property located in Seaford, Delaware, in which
Trammell claims an interest. See C.A. No.
S17T-07-004 at BL-15. On September 25, 2017, the Delaware
Supreme Court dismissed the petition. Matter of
Trammel, 2017 WL 4250022 (Del. Sept. 25, 2017). The
Supreme Court noted that while Trammell identified himself as
an "intervenor" in the monition proceedings, he had
not filed a motion to intervene in the action and must file a
motion to intervene in Superior Court if he intended to
intervene in the monition action. Id.
filed a motion to intervene on September 28, 2017.
See C.A. No. S17T-07-004 at BL-10. The motion was
denied on October 16, 2017, by an order filed the same date
at 3:08 p.m. Id. at BL-31. The same day, Plaintiff
filed his notice of removal in this Court twenty-two minutes
later, at 3:30 p.m. (D.I. 2). On November 20, 2017, a writ
was returned in C.A. No. S17T-07-004 indicating that the
property at issue was sold on October 17, 2017 to the highest
bidder. C.A. No. S17T-07-004 at BL-32.
exercise of removal jurisdiction is governed by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441(a), which states that, in order to remove a civil
action from state court to federal court, a district court
must have original jurisdiction. Typically, original
jurisdiction would exist based on either a federal question
or diversity of citizenship. The removal statutes are
strictly construed, and require remand to state court if any
doubt exists over whether removal was proper. Shamrock
Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 104 (1941).
will remand a removed case "if at any time before final
judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject
matter jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The
party seeking removal bears the burden to establish federal
jurisdiction. Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch &
Signal Div. Am. Standard, Inc., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d
Cir. 1987); Zoren v. Genesis Energy, LP., 195
F.Supp.2d 598, 602 (D. Del. 2002). In determining whether
remand based on improper removal is appropriate, the court
"must focus on the plaintiff's complaint at the time
the petition for removal was filed, " and assume all
factual allegations therein are true. Steel Valley
Auth., 809 F.2d at 1010. Upon a determination that a
federal court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the District
Court is obligated to remand, sua sponte, to the
state court from which it was removed. See Scott v. New
York Admin, for Children's Services, 678 Fed.Appx.
56 (3d Cir. 2017).
removal is procedurally defective. Trammell does not have
standing to remove this case. He is not a defendant nor an
intervenor in the State action. Indeed, his motion to
intervene was denied by the Superior Court prior to the time
he filed the notice of removal in this Court. Because
Trammell is not a "defendant" within the meaning of
§ 1441(a), he is not ...