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State, Department of Health and Welfare v. Khurana

United States District Court, D. Idaho

April 4, 2018

STATE OF IDAHO, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND WELFARE, Plaintiff.
v.
PRAVEEN K. KHURANA and JOHN W. PERRY, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM DECISION AND ORDER

          David C. Nye U.S. District Court Judge

         I. INTRODUCTION

         On March 13, 2018, Defendant Praveen Khurana removed this action from state court invoking this Court's jurisdiction. Dkt. 2. Khurana also filed an Application for Leave to Proceed in Forma Pauperis. Dkt. 1.

         The Court undertakes a sua sponte examination of whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over this case. Khurana does not cite any provisions of the United States Code that would allow him to remove this action, but simply states that the original question is federal because it deals with bankruptcy.[1] Upon review, it appears that there are no applicable code sections and that this Court lacks jurisdiction. Therefore, the Court will REMAND the case to state court for further proceedings. Khurana's Motion to proceed in Forma Pauperis is DENIED AS MOOT.

         II. BACKGROUND

         Pro Se Defendant Praveen Khurana removed this action from the District Court of the Second Judicial District of the State of Idaho, in and for the County of Nez Pearce, on March 13, 2018. In its Complaint, the State of Idaho, Department of Health and Welfare (“the Department”), seeks to set aside the transfer of certain assets.

         The Department alleges that an individual named Delores Adamson (now deceased) fraudulently transferred real property without adequate consideration to Defendants in order to receive Medicaid benefits and that Adamson made these transfers within the “lookback” period and are thus void. The Department seeks to have the various deeds to these properties set aside and declared null and void under Idaho Law.

         III. LEGAL STANDARD

         The Court may sua sponte review removed actions to confirm that federal jurisdiction is proper. See Snell v. Cleveland, Inc., 316 F.3d 822, 824, 826 (9th Cir. 2002) (explaining that a “court may raise the question of subject matter jurisdiction, sua sponte, at any time”); Galvez v. Kuhn, 933 F.3d 773, 775 n.4 (9th Cir. 1991) (holding that the Court can raise defects in jurisdiction sua sponte, whether the parties raise the issue or not). The “burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.” Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999). Any doubt as to the right of removal is resolved in favor of remand. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992).

         IV. DISCUSSION

         A. Diversity Jurisdiction

         “[A]ny civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). Federal courts have original jurisdiction over an action if the citizenship of the parties is completely diverse and the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The citizenship of the parties is completely diverse if none of the plaintiffs is a citizen of the same state as any of the defendants. Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996).

         A state is not a citizen for diversity purposes and, absent a federal question, the district courts are not possessed of jurisdiction of suits by or against a state. Postal Tel. Cable Co. v. Alabama, 155 U.S. 482 (1894); see also Broadwater-Mo. Water Users' Ass'n v. Mont. Power Co, 139 F.2d 998, 999 (9th Cir. 1944); Judicial Code Sec. 24, as amended, 28 U.S.C.A. § 41(1). “At the same time, however, [the U.S. Supreme Court] has recognized that a political subdivision of a State, unless it is simply the arm or alter ego of the State, is a citizen of the State for diversity purposes.” Moor v. Alameda Cty., 411 U.S. 693, 717 (1973). If confusion still exists, the Court must determine who the real party in interest is. Fed.R.Civ.P. 17(a).

         Based on the Complaint, Plaintiff is the State of Idaho-or a Department of the State of Idaho-and Defendants are both ...


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