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Claus v. Trammell

United States District Court, D. Delaware

November 16, 2018

WILLIAM H. CLAUS, IV, Plaintiff,
v.
GEORGE K. TRAMMELL, III, and STEPHANIE PARKER, Defendants.

          Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County No. S18C-06-021 ESB

          Paul G. Enterline, Esquire, Georgetown, Delaware. Counsel for Plaintiff.

          George K. Trammell, III, Seaford, Delaware, and Stephanie Parker, Bridgeville, Delaware. Pro se Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          ANDREWS, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Defendants George K. Trammell, HI, and Stephanie Parker filed a notice of removal on July 31, 2018, of Claus v. Trammell, Delaware State Court No. S18C-06-021 ESB (Del. Super.). (D.I. 3). Defendants appear pro se. On August 20, 2018, Plaintiff William H. Claus, IV, filed a motion to remand the matter to State Court. (D.I. 6). The matter has been fully briefed. (D.I. 6, 9, 10). For the reasons discussed below, the Court will grant Plaintiff's motion to remand to the Superior Court of the State of Delaware in and for Sussex County.

         FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On June 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed a complaint for ejectment in the Superior Court. Trammel was served with the summons and complaint on July 3, 2018, and Parker received and acknowledged service of the summons and complaint via certified mail on July 17, 2018. (D.I. 7 at A1, A2, A4, A10-11, A24). Defendants removed the matter to this Court on July 31, 2018 pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1343(a) (1)-(4), 1441(a), 1443(1), and 1446. (D. I. 3). The notice of removal states that Defendants cannot get a fair, impartial, constitutional hearing in the Superior Court.

         Plaintiff moves for remand on the grounds that: (1) the removal was not timely; (2) the parties are not diverse; (3) there is no federal question; (4) a defense or counterclaim is not part of the complaint; and (5) Defendants have not shown that the State Court is incapable of properly adjudicating the case or any defense Defendants seek to assert. (D.I. 6).

         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. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1441(a). Section 1441(a) and § 1443 both provide that the action may be removed by the defendant to the district court of the United States. Id. at §§ 1441(a), 1446. 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).

         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. 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 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.

         DISCUSSION

         In their notice of removal, Defendants claim there is federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 and civil rights and elective franchise jurisdiction under § 1343(a) (1), (2), (3), (4). In their opposition to remand, Defendants claim fraud on the court and advise the Court the instant case is a "spin off' of Department of Finance of Sussex County v. Clifford E. Polk Heirs, Civ. No. 17-1448-RGA (D. Del.), a case Trammell improperly removed to this Court, which was summarily remanded to state court on December 1, 2017. In Civ. No. 17-1448-RGA, Trammell sought a writ of prohibition to prevent a sheriff's sale of real property located in Seaford, Delaware, the same property which is the subject matter of the complaint for ejectment in this removed case. (See Civ. No. 17-1448-RGA at D.I. 6 and D.I. 7 at A 15, both referring to C.A. No. S17T-07-004). Trammell states that he was intentionally and deliberately disenfranchised in the first case and now, in an attempt to cover up Trammell's "incontrovertible equitable interest" in the real property at issue (D.I. 9 at 2), Plaintiff has finally put his name in the caption. Defendants also invoke 42 U.S.C. § 1983 in their opposition to remand and assert constitutional violations relating to felony theft of real property.

         A district court has federal question jurisdiction over "all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Defendants assert this Court has original jurisdiction over the Complaint because they cannot get a fair impartial (i.e., constitutional) hearing due to the "biased" ...


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