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WUERL v. INT'L. LIFE SCIENCE CHURCH

March 4, 1991

MOST REVEREND DONALD W. WUERL, BISHOP OF THE ROMAN CATHOLIC DIOCESE OF PITTSBURGH, SUCCESSOR TRUSTEE FOR THE ROMAN CATHOLIC CONGREGATION OF SAINTS PETER AND PAUL CHURCH, PLAINTIFF,
v.
INTERNATIONAL LIFE SCIENCE CHURCH, A CAYMAN ISLANDS BRITISH WEST INDIES COMPANY, HAROLD W. BROBECK, JAMES D. GIBSON AND JOAN GIBSON, HUSBAND AND WIFE, THEIR SON, DAVID A. GIBSON, THE WORLD LIFE AND CASUALTY CO., A CAYMAN ISLANDS, BRITISH WEST INDIES COMPANY, AND THEIR RESPECTIVE HEIRS, SUCCESSORS AND ASSIGNS, DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Lee, District Judge.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

This case has been reassigned to this member of the Court for disposition.

The matter presently before the Court is the plaintiff's Motion to remand to the Court of Common Pleas of Beaver County, Pennsylvania, pursuant to 28 U.S.Code, § 1447(c) an action to quiet title brought by the plaintiff against four individual defendants and two apparent corporate defendants organized in the Cayman Islands, British West Indies.

The subject property is situate at 361 East End Avenue, Borough of Beaver, County of Beaver, Pennsylvania, and was purchased by the plaintiff from the United States of America which had seized the premises for nonpayment of Internal Revenue taxes due from the defendant, Harold W. Brobeck (Brobeck). The plaintiff and the individual defendants are all residents of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

Brobeck filed a Petition to remove the action to the United States District Court on the basis that it is related to pending Civil Action No. 87-2017 and "is a federal question because title in the plaintiffs (sic) rests upon the validity of a seizure and sale of the real estate by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)."

The other defendants did not join in the removal petition of Brobeck.

Civil Action No. 87-2017 was brought by the United States of America against Brobeck to reduce to judgment certain federal income tax liabilities assessed against Brobeck in an amount of $724,177.02 plus interest.

In that action, Brobeck filed a counterclaim challenging the underlying assessments on which the seizure of the subject property was based and seeks compensatory and punitive damages for the wrongful levy and seizure of his property.

The plaintiff does not name the Internal Revenue Service as a party, raises no issue as to the authority or right of the Internal Revenue Service to have conveyed the subject property to the plaintiff, nor is there involved any encumbrance or lien of the Internal Revenue Service against the property.

The plaintiff's Motion to remand will be granted for the reasons hereinafter set forth.*fn1

Brobeck has not met his burden of establishing grounds for federal jurisdiction in this case, which jurisdiction must be determined by applying the "well pleaded Complaint rule."

The plaintiff's Motion for remand effectively forces defendant — the party who invoked the Federal Court's removal jurisdiction — to prove whatever is necessary to support the Petition, e.g., the existence of diversity, the amount in controversy or the federal nature of the claim. Salveson v. Western States Bankcard Association (N.D.Cal. 1981), 525 F. Supp. 566, B., Inc. v. Miller Brewing Company (5th Cir. 1981), 663 F.2d 545.

The removal statutes are construed restrictively, so as to limit removal jurisdiction. Doubts as to removability are resolved in favor of remanding the case to the state court. Shamrock Oil and Gas Corporation v. Sheets (1941), 313 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214; Hedges v. Legal Services Corporation (N.D.Cal. 1987), 663 F. Supp. 300.

The reason for strict construction is to prevent waste of judicial resources, i.e., if it turns out that there is no "federal question" or "diversity," the Federal Court's judgment would have to be set aside on appeal. Jurisdictional concerns can be avoided by remanding to state courts which have general jurisdiction. Wenger ...


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