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Capital one Bank USA, N.A. v. Butler

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, Hammond Division

January 11, 2019

CAPITAL ONE BANK USA, N.A., Plaintiff,
v.
TIERA BUTLER, Defendant.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          JUDGE JAMES T. MOODY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Capital One Bank (USA), N.A., (“Capital One”) originally filed this lawsuit in Porter County Superior Court in the State of Indiana against defendant Tiera Butler (“Butler”) on June 13, 2018. (DE # 3.) Capital One alleges Butler owes $ 4, 046.59 on a defaulted credit card account. (Id. at 1-4.)

         Butler, acting pro se, removed the action to this court in a notice of removal filed June 13, 2018. (DE # 1.) In addition to stating her basis for removal, Butler's notice of removal also attempts to assert “a common-law compulsory counterclaim.” (Id. at 14.)

         On July 27, 2018, Capital One moved to remand the case back to state court because this court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. (DE # 6.) Butler did not respond to the motion. The time has now passed for a response to be filed to the pending motion, and the motion is ripe for ruling. See N.D. Ind. L.R. 7-1.

         II. LEGAL STANDARD

         The removal statute allows for the removal of “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating its existence. Appert v. Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Inc., 673 F.3d 609, 617 (7th Cir. 2012). Thus, when a party opposing federal jurisdiction challenges the allegations of jurisdictional facts, the party seeking the federal forum must prove those facts by a preponderance of the evidence. Meridian Sec. Ins. Co. v. Sadowski, 441 F.3d 536, 543 (7th Cir. 2006).

         District courts are to “interpret the removal statute narrowly, ” and any doubts regarding jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of remand to state court. Doe v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 985 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993). “If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         III. DISCUSSION

         In her notice of removal, Butler argues that this court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the case based on a federal question. (DE # 1 at 1, 5.) In its motion to remand, Capital One argues that there is no subject-matter jurisdiction because there is no federal question, and, alternatively, that defendant could not have removed the case to this court on the basis of diversity. (DE # 7 at 2-3.) The court will address both of plaintiff's arguments, beginning with the federal question argument.

         A. Federal Question

         A case presents a federal question when it arises under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. According to the “well-pleaded complaint rule, ” the federal question must be “presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987). “The rule makes the plaintiff the master of the claim; he or she may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance on state law.” Id.

         On its face, plaintiff's complaint does not invoke the Constitution or any other federal laws or statutes. (See DE # 3.) Nonetheless, Butler argues that a federal question exists because the action relates to the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1692 et seq (“FDCPA”), and the Federal Arbitration Act, 9 U.S.C. § 1 et seq (“FAA”). (DE # 1 at 5.)

         Although neither of these statutes are mentioned in the complaint, it is true that Butler has attempted to file a counterclaim under the FDCPA, which is a federal statute. (DE # 1 at 14-17.) However, in accordance with the well-pleaded complaint rule, “claims in a counterclaim cannot confer federal question jurisdiction over a case.” Salton, Inc. v. Philips Domestic Appliances & Pers. Care B.V., 391 ...


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