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The Bank of New York Mellon v. Hegedus

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 6, 2018

THE BANK OF NEW YORK MELLON f/k/a The Bank of New York, as Trustee for the Holders of the Certificates, First Horizon Mortgage Pass-Through Certificates Series FHAMS 2006-Fa5, By First Horizon Home Loans, a Division of First Tennessee Bank National Association, Master Servicer, in its Capacity as Agent for the Trustee under the Pooling and Servicing Agreement, Plaintiff,
v.
JAMES A. HEGEDUS and VIRGINIA E. HEGEDUS, Defendants.

          Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County CA. No. S15L-12-053

          MEMORANDUM

          HONORABLE LEONARD P. STARK, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On September 5, 2018, Defendants James A. Hegedus and Virginia E. Hegedus ("Defendants") filed a notice of removal of Delaware State Court CA. No. SI 5L-12-053. (D.I. 1) Defendants appear pro se and have paid the filing fee. Plaintiff moves for remand (D.I. 5) and Defendants move for an extension of time to respond to the motion and for injunctive relief (D.I. 5, 10). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant the motion to remand the matter to the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County, will grant the motion for an extension of time and consider Defendants' opposition timely filed, and will deny without prejudice the motion for injunctive relief.

         II. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On December 29, 2015, Plaintiff filed an In Rem Scire Facias mortgage foreclosure complaint in the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County, CA. No. S15L- 12-053. The complaint sought foreclosure of property located in Delaware. On December 18, 2017, the Superior Court ruled in favor of Plaintiff and against Defendants. (D.I. 4-1) Defendants appealed to the Delaware Supreme Court, No. 21, 2018. (D.I. 4-3 at 10) On July 10, 2018, the Delaware Supreme Court affirmed the Superior Court on the basis of and for the reasons stated by the Superior Court in its December 18, 2017 opinion. See Hegedus v. Bank of New York Mellon, 2018 WL 3375360 (Del. 2018) (table). Defendants sought rehearing en banc, which was denied on July 25, 2018. (D.I.4-3 at 2)

         Defendants removed the matter on September 5, 2018. The notice of removal states that the case was brought under State law, but there is federal question jurisdiction under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 for violation of constitutional rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments. (D.I. 1) Plaintiff timely filed a motion to remand. See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Plaintiff seeks remand based on the well-pleaded complaint rule, the Rooker-Feldman Doctrine, and res judicata.

         III. LEGAL STANDARDS

         The 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 by either a federal question or diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1441(a). The statute is strictly construed, requiring remand to state court if any doubt exists over whether removal was proper. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 104 (1941).

         A court 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. See Steel Valley Auth. v. Union Switch & Signal Div. Am. Standard, Inc., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3d Cir. 1987); Zoren v. Genesis Energy, L.P., 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 plaintiffs 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.

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Federal Question

         Defendants removed this case pursuant to the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Defendants' primary basis for removal is federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 ("The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under die Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States."). The notice of removal purports to base § 1331 jurisdiction upon 42 U.S.C. § 1983 by reason of violations of Defendants' constitutional rights. (D.I. 1 at 7) Defendants contend that when the case was filed in state court it raised questions under state law.

         Plaintiff moves for remand based upon the well-pleaded complaint rule. In commencing an action, it is for the plaintiff to decide whedier to assert a federal claim, a state claim, or both. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams,482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). Under die well-pleaded complaint rule, a cause of action '"arises under' federal law, and removal is proper, only if diere is a federal question presented on die face of die plaintiffs properly pleaded complaint." Dukes v. U.S. Healthcare,57 F.3d 350, 353 (3d Cir. 1995); see also Homes Grp., Inc. v. Vomado Air Circulation Sjs., Inc.,535 U.S. 826, 832 (2002). '"[A] case may not be removed to federal court on die basis of a federal defense,' even if the plaintiffs complaint anticipates such defense." Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392. "Nor can [die d]efendant[] create federal jurisdiction by asserting federal defenses and/or counterclaims to [die p]laintiffs state law foreclosure complaint." Green Tree ...


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