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Saberi v. Les Stanford Chevrolet Cadillac Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 16, 2016

Andy Saberi, Plaintiff,
Les Stanford Chevrolet Cadillac Inc., et al., Defendants.


          Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers United States District Court Judge.

         This case arises out of plaintiff Saberi's purchase of a new vehicle from defendant Les Stanford Chevrolet Cadillac ("Les Stanford"), and the delivery of said vehicle from Michigan to California by defendants BJ Interstate Auto Transporters, Inc. ("BJ Interstate") and Bogdan Dedyk d/b/a Safe Auto Transport ("Dedyk"). (Dkt. 1-1, "Compl.") The case was removed to federal court by defendant Les Stanford on April 22, 2016. (Dkt. No. 1.)

         Now before the Court is plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (Dkt. No. 17, "Mtn.") Defendant Les Stanford has filed a response in opposition to plaintiff's Motion, (Dkt. No. 24, "Opp'n"), and plaintiff has filed a reply, (Dkt. No. 28, "Reply").[1] For the reasons set forth below, the Court Remands the action to the state court.[2]

         I. BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff is an individual residing in San Mateo County, California. (Compl. ¶ 1.) On or about September 17, 2015, Plaintiff purchased a Corvette from defendant Les Stanford, which is a Michigan corporation with its principal place of business in Michigan, for delivery to plaintiff in San Francisco, California. (Id. at ¶¶ 2, 9.) According to the Complaint, defendant Les Stanford contracted with defendant BJ Interstate "for the purpose of transporting the Corvette for delivery to [plaintiff]." (Id. at ¶ 8.) Defendant BJ Interstate is a Nevada corporation with its principal place of business in Nevada. (Id. at ¶ 3.) Plaintiff alleges that defendant BJ Interstate, in turn, subcontracted with defendant Dedyk, who is an individual residing in Roseville, California, "for the purpose of transporting the Corvette for delivery to [plaintiff] in San Francisco, California." (Id. at ¶¶ 4, 9.) Plaintiff alleges that, based on his reliance on certain warranties and representations, he "made full payment in the sum of $128, 391.93" to defendant Les Stanford for the Corvette. (Id. at ¶ 10.) According to the Complaint, upon delivery of the Corvette on or about October 13, 2015, plaintiff "discovered that the Corvette was defective and not safe for reasonable operation" and that the "Corvette was in fact unmerchantable and unfit to be operated." (Id. at ¶¶ 11-12.)

         Plaintiff believes that the defendants "proximately caused the damaged to the Corvette." (Id. at ¶ 14.) Plaintiff filed his complaint in California state court on November 18, 2015 alleging the following: (i) violation of California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act against defendant Les Stanford for delivering a defective automobile; (ii) fraud against all defendants for misrepresenting that the automobile was of merchantable quality and fit for driving and operation; and (iii) negligence against all defendants for breaching their duty of care not to damage the automobile. (Id. at ¶¶ 17-27.)


         A. Legal Standard

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994) (federal courts "possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute"). A defendant may remove a civil action from state court if the action could have originally been filed in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Federal subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1) requires complete diversity of citizenship and an amount in controversy in excess of $75, 000. Federal subject matter jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331 requires a civil action to arise under the constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. A claim "arises under" federal law only if a "well-pleaded complaint" alleges a cause of action based on federal law-"an actual or anticipated defense" does not confer federal jurisdiction. Vaden v. Discover Bank, 556 U.S. 49, 60 (2009). "The presence or absence of federal-question jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well-pleaded complaint rule, ' which provides that federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint." Wayne v. DHL Worldwide Express, 294 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Caterpillar, Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987)).

         The defendant seeking removal "bears the burden of establishing that removal is proper" and the "removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction." Provincial Gov't of Marinduque v. Placer Dome, Inc., 582 F.3d 1083, 1087 (9th Cir. 2009); see also Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941). A plaintiff may seek to have a case remanded to the state court from which it was removed if the district court lacks jurisdiction or if there is a defect in the removal procedure. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         There is typically a strong presumption against finding removal jurisdiction. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction for purposes of removal is on the party seeking removal. See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004). The party seeking removal "has the burden to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, that removal is proper." Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010).

         Further, when a case is removed to federal court, the court has an independent obligation to satisfy itself that it has federal subject matter jurisdiction. Valdez, 372 F.3d at 1116. A case removed to federal court must be remanded back to state court "if at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). "Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566; accord Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003). The court "resolves all ambiguity in favor of remand to state court." Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009).

         Here, plaintiff argues that remand is appropriate because: (a) defendant's notice of removal contained several procedural deficiencies; (b) there is no federal question that would give the court jurisdiction; and (c) even if defendant had properly removed on the basis of diversity, there is no complete diversity in this case.

         B. ...

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