United States District Court, D. New Jersey
Salas, United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Wells Fargo Bank,
N.A.'s (“Wells Fargo”) motion to
remand this action to the Superior Court of New Jersey. (D.E.
No. 9). This Court referred Wells Fargo's motion to the
Hon. Steven C. Mannion, U.S.M.J., for a report and
recommendation. The parties briefed Wells Fargo's motion,
and Judge Mannion held oral argument. Thereafter, Judge
Mannion issued a Report and Recommendation recommending that
this Court grant Wells Fargo's motion. (D.E. No. 18 (the
“R&R”)). Pro se Defendant Crystal
Fenty Dey-El (“Defendant”) objected to Judge
Mannion's R&R (D.E. No. 19 (“Def.
Obj.”)), and Wells Fargo responded to Defendant's
objections. (D.E. No. 20). For the following reasons, the
Court ACCEPTS Judge Mannion's recommended disposition and
GRANTS Wells Fargo's motion to remand.
a litigant files an objection to a Report and Recommendation,
the district court must make a de novo determination
of those portions to which the litigant objects.”
Leonard Parness Trucking Corp. v. Omnipoint
Commc'ns, Inc., No. 13-4148, 2013 WL 6002900, at *2
(D.N.J. Nov. 12, 2013) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A),
Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b), and L. Civ. R. 72.1(c)(2)). The district
court may then “accept, reject or modify the
recommended disposition . . . .” Weber v.
Mcgrogan, No. 14-7340, 2016 WL 3381233, at *2 (D.N.J.
June 9, 2016) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 72(b)(3)). “Unlike
an Opinion and Order issued by a Magistrate Judge on a
non-dispositive matter, a Report and Recommendation does not
have the force of law unless and until the district court
enters an order accepting or rejecting it.”
Id. (citing United Steelworkers of Am. v. N.J.
Zinc Co., Inc., 828 F.2d 1001, 1005 (3d Cir. 1987)).
parties are familiar with the facts and procedural posture of
this case, so the Court will be brief. Wells Fargo seeks
foreclosure of a mortgaged property owned by Defendant. (D.E.
No. 1-4 (“Compl.”) at 31-50). On August 18, 2016,
Wells Fargo filed a residential Mortgage Foreclosure
Complaint against Defendant and other individuals and
entities in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Chancery
Division, Essex County, alleging that the mortgage loan was
in default. (Id.). Wells Fargo served Defendant with
the Complaint on August 21, 2016. (See D.E. No. 9-3
(“Chamberlin Cert.”) at Ex. A). On March 28,
2017, the Superior Court entered an Order for Final Judgment
and a Writ of Execution. (See Chamberlin Cert. at
March 13, 2017, Defendant removed the state foreclosure
action to this Court. (D.E. No. 1-3 (“Removal
Notice”)). Defendant's Removal Notice relies on 28
U.S.C. § 1331 (federal question jurisdiction), as
Defendant contends that Wells Fargo is a “debt
collector” seeking to collect a “debt”
under the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act
(“FDCPA”). (Id. at 1-2). Defendant's
Removal Notice also relies on 28 U.S.C. § 1332
(diversity jurisdiction). (Id. at 2). To that end,
Defendant's Civil Cover Sheet states that Defendant is a
“citizen or subject of a foreign country.” (D.E.
The R&R and Defendant's Objections
As Judge Mannion observed in his R&R, “Wells Fargo
provides numerous reasons in support of remanding this action
to state court.” (R&R at 4; see also D.E.
No. 9-1). Nevertheless, Judge Mannion focused his analysis
only on the forum-defendant rule. (R&R at 4). The
forum-defendant rule provides that “[a] civil action
otherwise removable solely on the basis of [diversity
jurisdiction] may not be removed if any of the parties in
interest properly joined and served as defendants is a
citizen of the state in which such action is brought.”
28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). Because Judge Mannion found that
Defendant's domicile is New Jersey, and because Wells
Fargo brought the foreclosure action in New Jersey, Judge
Mannion concluded that “this action is subject to
remand under the forum-defendant rule even if complete
diversity exists.” (R&R at 5). Judge Mannion did
not address whether this case presents a federal question for
purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
argues that Judge Mannion erred by not considering whether
federal-question jurisdiction exists. (See generally
Def. Obj.). Defendant cites a portion of a document included
with the Removal Notice, called “Demand for Dismissal
of New Jersey State / City Superior Court Action and
Counterclaim” (D.E. No. 1), which appears to invoke
federal-question jurisdiction. (See Def. Obj. at
2-5). Defendant also argues that diversity jurisdiction
exists. (See Id. at 7-8, 10). In particular,
Defendant states: “I AM an Indigenous of this land and
a Moorish American National on this land. I am NOT a
state citizen.” (Id. at 7) (emphasis in
original). Defendant also advances several arguments going to
the merits of the foreclosure action, all of which appear to
be inapplicable to Wells Fargo's remand motion. (See
Id. at 6, 9-12).
the Court will address whether federal-question jurisdiction
or diversity jurisdiction exists in this case.