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Nguyen v. Bank of America, N.A.

United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit

August 19, 2013

TU NGUYEN, Plaintiff-Appellant,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA, N.A., Defendant-Appellee.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas USDC No. 4:12-CV-3158

Before STEWART, Chief Judge, and OWEN and GRAVES, Circuit Judges.

PER CURIAM: [*]

Plaintiff-Appellant, Tu Nguyen, proceeding pro se, sued Bank of America, N.A., ("the Bank"), alleging wrongful foreclosure of his residential property ("the Property"). For the following reasons, we AFFIRM the district court's denial of Nguyen's motion to remand and its dismissal of his complaint.

I.

This is the third lawsuit that Nguyen has filed against the Bank to contest the foreclosure of the Property located in Galveston County, Texas. After Nguyen defaulted on his mortgage note, the Bank posted the Property for foreclosure sale on January 3, 2012. In response, Nguyen filed suit in Texas state court on December 22, 2011 ("First Lawsuit") and received a temporary restraining order ("TRO"). He asserted 16 state and federal law causes of action. The Bank removed the First Lawsuit to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The district court dismissed the First Lawsuit after Nguyen and the Bank agreed to dismiss the case with prejudice.

On April 30, 2012, Nguyen sued the Bank in Texas state court ("Second Lawsuit"), and the Bank again removed to federal court. In the Second Lawsuit, Nguyen asserted nearly identical causes of action related to the First Lawsuit. On July 18, 2012, the district court granted summary judgment in favor of the Bank by dismissing the Second Lawsuit with prejudice on the ground that Nguyen's claims were barred under res judicata. We affirmed the district court's grant of summary judgment in favor of the Bank in Nguyen v. Bank of America, N.A., No. 12-20573, 2013 WL 1153041, at *3 (5th Cir. Mar. 8, 2013).

Undeterred, Nguyen filed the present matter in Texas state court on September 13, 2012 ("Third Lawsuit"). In this action, he sought to quiet title of the Property and a declaratory judgment. Following the Bank's removal to federal court, Nguyen filed a motion to remand, asserting that no federal question jurisdiction existed, and that the Court lacked diversity jurisdiction due to the "forum defendant rule." The district court denied the motion to remand and granted the Bank's motion to dismiss by concluding that res judicata barred Nguyen's claim. In its order, the district court admonished Nguyen "that further litigation of this dispute in the nature of a new suit may be met with severe monetary sanctions, as further litigation would be wholly frivolous." This appeal followed.

II.

We review a district court's grant of a motion to dismiss de novo. Atchafalaya Basinkeeper v. Chustz, 682 F.3d 356, 357 (5th Cir. 2012) (per curiam) (citation omitted). This court also reviews a denial of a motion to remand de novo. Preston v. Tenet Healthsystem Mem'l Med. Ctr., Inc., 485 F.3d 793, 796 (5th Cir. 2007) (citation omitted). Because Nguyen is a pro se litigant, this court "liberally construe[s]" his filings. Estelle v. Gamble, 429 U.S. 97, 106 (1976).

III.

Nguyen makes three arguments on appeal. First, he contends that the district court erred in denying his motion to remand, as the district court did not have original jurisdiction, and the forum defendant rule precluded the Bank's removal to federal court. Second, Nguyen asserts that the district court violated his due process rights by denying him the opportunity to present evidence and by not considering his amended response to the Bank's motion to dismiss. Third, he claims that the district court erred in granting the Bank's motion to dismiss on the grounds of res judicata. We conclude that Nguyen's arguments are unavailing.

A.

With respect to Nguyen's first contention, we conclude that the district court did not err in denying his motion to remand. A defendant may remove an action to federal court if the court has subject-matter jurisdiction over the case. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal court has subject-matter jurisdiction where "the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000" and is between "citizens of different States." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). In the present matter, the Bank's Notice of Removal indicated that removal was based on diversity jurisdiction, i.e., the Bank is a citizen of North Carolina, [1] Nguyen is a citizen of Texas, and the amount in controversy is $359, 820.00, the value of the Property.[2] Accordingly, the Bank properly removed the case, as the district court had original jurisdiction under ยง 1332. ...


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