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State v. Arais-Elwin

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

February 19, 2019

LOUISIANA STATE, et al.
v.
ISSIS R. ARAIS-ELWIN

         SECTION M (1)

          ORDER & REASONS

          BARRY W. ASHE, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Defendant Issis R. Arais-Elwin (“Elwin”) removed State of Louisiana v. Hunt, case number 2006-3613, consolidated with Hunt v. Arais-E Court, Parish of Orleans (“State Court”) on April 26, 2018. Although plaintiff Richard Hunt (“Hunt”) has not moved to remand, federal courts have an independent duty to examine their own subject-matter jurisdiction sue sponte and may not proceed where it is apparent that jurisdiction does not exist. See Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 583-84 (1999); Union Planters Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Salih, 369 F.3d 457, 460 (5th Cir. 2004). Accordingly, this Court now addresses the issue of its subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte. Having considered the notice of removal[1] and the applicable law, the Court must remand the case to State Court.

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case arises out of a dispute over child support. Elwin, proceeding pro se, filed a notice of removal of State of Louisiana v. Hunt, case number 2006-3613, consolidated with Hunt v. Arais-Elwin, case number 2010-3951, from State Court. While the record is incomplete, [2] the consolidated cases involve petitions to establish paternity and support obligations.[3] Elwin and Hunt have a minor child to whom Hunt owes child support.[4] Due in part to Hunt's failure to pay the child support, Elwin filed a petition for involuntary bankruptcy against Hunt on March 30, 2018. See In re Hunt, 2018 WL 3586712, at *1 (Bankr. E.D. La. June 24, 2018). The bankruptcy court dismissed the petition on May 14, 2018, for lack of standing as a result of Elwin's failure to make a prima facie case that at least $15, 775 of claims were not the subject of a bona fide dispute under 11 U.S.C. § 303(b). 2018 WL 3586712, at *6. Elwin filed a motion for reconsideration, which the bankruptcy court, treating it as a motion for new trial and to alter or amend the judgment, denied. In re Hunt, 2018 WL 3628892 (Bankr. E.D. La. July 25, 2018). Elwin then appealed the dismissal to this Court, and this Court affirmed. In re Hunt, 2019 WL 651672 (E.D. La. Feb. 14, 2019).

         II. NOTICE OF REMOVAL

         In Elwin's notice of removal, Elwin states four bases for jurisdiction: (1) 28 U.S.C. § 1334; (2) 28 U.S.C. § 1452; (3) 28 U.S.C. § 1443(1); and (4) 28 U.S.C. 1447(d).[5] In support of bases (1) and (2), which Elwin refers to as “Bankruptcy Removal, ” Elwin claims that the State Court proceedings are related to the involuntary bankruptcy petition that she filed in bankruptcy court less than 30 days before she filed her notice of removal.[6]

         Elwin next refers to bases (3) and (4) as “Civil Rights Removal, ” which she contends is proper under the line of removed state-court cases in the 1960's because the State Court proceedings were “initiated without lawful or legitimate basis in law, ” making her a “victim[] of bad faith harassment.”[7] Elwin, “of white-Hispanic ethnic origin, ” contends that the State Court's racial discrimination denies her equal protection rights: “In sum, due to systemic race-based corruption and bribery of black judges by white lawyers against white Hispanic and other white women, Civil Rights removal is entirely appropriate in the present case”[8] Elwin also cites the Americans with Disabilities Act in support of her allegation that the State Court has violated her due process and equal protection rights as a mother and disabled person who suffers from panic attacks, [9] as well as the rights of her disabled child.[10] Elwin further submits that she has been arrested on false charges on several occasions during the past decade in violation of her rights under 42 U.S.C. §§ 1981(a) and 12131, et seq[11] Throughout her notice of removal, Elwin asserts that the State Court's refusal to enforce Hunt's obligation to pay child support is the result of broad-based corruption involving a multiplicity of state actors' racism and favoritism towards Hunt.[12]

         III. LAW & ANALYSIS

         A. Removal Jurisdiction

         The jurisdiction of a federal court is limited to that granted by the United States Constitution and authorized by Congress. See Howery v. Allstate Ins. Co., 243 F.3d 912, 916 (5th Cir. 2001). Generally, a defendant may remove a state-court, civil action to federal court if the federal court possesses original jurisdiction at the time of removal. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441; Doddy v. Oxy USA, Inc., 101 F.3d 448, 456 (5th Cir. 1996) (jurisdiction established at time of removal). Because federal courts have limited jurisdiction, the removal statute is strictly construed, and any ambiguities are construed against removal and in favor of remand. Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276 F.3d 720, 723 (5th Cir. 2002). The party seeking removal has the burden of establishing that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was proper. Id.

         “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). Thus, if subject-matter jurisdiction is not raised by the parties, a federal court has a duty to raise the issue of its subject-matter jurisdiction sua sponte. Union Planters Bank Nat'l Ass'n v. Salih, 369 F.3d at 460.

         B. Analysis

         1. ...


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