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Lion v. Echo Global Logistics, Inc.

United States District Court, Ninth Circuit

October 17, 2013

JEFF LION, Plaintiff,
v.
ECHO GLOBAL LOGISTICS, INC., and ESTES FORWARDING WORLDWIDE, LLC, Defendants.

ORDER ON PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND AND DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS (Doc. Nos. 4, 5)

ANTHONY W. ISHII, Senior District Judge.

This is a shipping dispute between Plaintiff Jeff Lion ("Lion") and Defendants Echo Global Logistics, Inc. ("Echo") and Estes Forwarding Worldwide, LLC ("Estes"). Estes removed this case from the Fresno County Superior Court on July 25, 2013, on the basis of complete federal preemption under 49 U.S.C. ยง 14706 ("the Carmack Amendment"). Estes has filed a motion to dismiss, and Lion has filed a motion to remand. Both motions are now before the Court for decision. For the reasons that follow, Lion's motion to remand will be granted, and Estes's motion to dismiss will be denied as moot.

BACKGROUND

The Complaint, which is on a pre-printed state court form, alleges that Lion hired Estes and Echo to transport custom wood benches from Phoenix, Arizona to Fresno, California. Estes and Echo allegedly failed to take proper precautions in the packing, loading, transporting, and removal of the benches. Upon deliver to Fresno, Lion discovered that the benches had been damages beyond repair.

On June 12, 2013, Lion filed suit in the Fresno County Superior Court, and alleged a single cause of action for negligence against Estes and Echo. Lion seeks damages to the property, and the damages are $25, 000 or less.

On July 25, 2013, Estes filed a notice removal to this Court. The notice of removal avers that removal is proper because the Carmack Amendment completely preempts Lion's claims because those claims are for damages done to goods that were traveling in interstate commerce. Further, the notice of removal states that, to the best of Estes's knowledge, service upon Echo had not been effected and thus, Echo's consent was not required.

On July 31, 2013, Estes filed a motion to dismiss.

On August 23, 2013, Lion filed a motion to remand.

I. PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

Plaintiff's Argument [1]

Lion argues that remand is appropriate because although the Carmack Amendment covers almost every detail of claims against carriers, it does not cover claims against brokers. Here, Echo and Estes were both acting as brokers. Estes is licensed by the United States Department of Transportation as only a broker, it is not licensed to be a carrier. In fact, Estes is attempting to enforce a waybill's limitation of damages that contains the signature of the true carrier whom Estes hired, which was Arizona Express Delivery. Lion contracted with Echo for transport of custom benches from Phoenix to Fresno. Echo then brokered an agreement with Estes, who in turn would arrange for transport of the benches. Estes then brokered and arranged transport of the benches through Arizona Express Delivery. Lion was unaware of Arizona Express Delivery or its agency relationship with Estes or Echo until the benches were delivered. Because the Carmack Amendment does not apply to brokers, the negligence claim is not completely preempted. Without complete preemption, there is no jurisdiction and remand is proper. Further, as part of the remand, an award of attorney's fees should be made.

Defendant's Opposition

Estes argues that remand is not appropriate because the Court has subject matter jurisdiction. To determine whether subject matter jurisdiction exists, the Court should confine its review to the initial complaint and ignore any allegations made by way of the remand motion. Courts may look beyond the operative complaint at the time of removal only in instances where a case was removed under diversity jurisdiction and the amount in controversy cannot be readily determined. Here, Lion's motion to remand includes three exhibits that were not attached to the operative pleading, and a variety of ...


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