United States District Court, S.D. California
ORDER GRANTING UNOPPOSED MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. NO.
Anthony J. Battaglia United States District Judge
before the Court is Plaintiff Michelle Blackburn’s
(“Plaintiff”) unopposed motion to remand this
mater to San Diego County Superior Court. (Doc. No. 6.)
Finding Defendant FCA U.S. LLC (“Defendant”) has
failed to carry its burden of establishing removal
jurisdiction exists, Plaintiff’s motion to remand is
GRANTED. As this matter is appropriate for resolution on the
papers and without oral argument pursuant to Local Rule
7.1.d.1, the motion hearing presently set for October 13,
2016 is VACATED.
17, 2016, Plaintiff filed suit against Defendant in San Diego
County Superior Court for damages stemming from
Plaintiff’s purchase of a new 2011 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
(Doc. No. 1-2.) Plaintiffs asserts three causes of action
sounding in state law for violations of the Song-Beverly
Consumer Warranty Act and fraudulent concealment.
(Id.) Defendant was served with the complaint on May
19, 2016, and filed a notice of removal on June 16, 2016.
(Doc. No. 1.) Defendant asserts federal jurisdiction exists
pursuant to 26 U.S.C. 1332(d), as the parties are diverse and
the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional minimum
of $75, 000. (Id. at 3.)
16, 2016, Plaintiff moved to remand arguing that Defendant
has failed to establish diversity jurisdiction exists. (Doc.
No. 6 at 2.) In addition to remand, Plaintiff seeks an award
of costs and expenses, including attorney’s fees,
incurred because of removal. (Id.) Defendant has not
filed an opposition or otherwise addressed the arguments
advanced in support of remand.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, having subject
matter jurisdiction only over matters authorized by the
Constitution and Congress. See Kokkonen v. Guardian Life
Ins. Co., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994). A defendant may
remove a civil action from state court to federal court only
if the district court would have original jurisdiction over
the matter. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “Removal statutes
are strictly construed against removal.” Luther v.
Countywide Home Loans Serv., L.P., 533 F.3d 1031, 1034
(9th Cir. 2008). There is also a “strong
presumption” against removal jurisdiction, and the
party seeking removal always has the burden of establishing
that removal is proper. Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980
F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). If there is any doubt as to
the propriety of removal, federal jurisdiction must be
rejected. Id. at 567.
Amount in Controversy
federal court to exercise diversity jurisdiction there must
be “complete diversity” between the parties and
the amount in controversy requirement of $75, 000 must be
met. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a); Strawbridge
v. Curtiss, 7 U.S. 267, 267 (1806). The amount in
controversy is determined by reference to the complaint, and
includes the amount of damages in dispute, as well as
attorney’s fees, if authorized by statute or contract.
Kroske v. U.S. Bank Corp., 432 F.3d 976, 980 (9th
Cir. 2005). Where the complaint does not pray for damages in
a specific amount, the defendant must prove by a
preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy
exceeds $75, 000. Singer v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., 116 F.3d 373, 376 (9th Cir. 1997) (citing
Sanchez v. Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398,
404 (9th Cir. 1996)). If the amount is not facially apparent
from the complaint, the Court may “require parties to
submit summary-judgment-type evidence relevant to the amount
in controversy at the time of removal.” Id.
(citing Allen v. R & H Oil & Gas Co., 63
F.3d 1326, 1335-56 (5th Cir. 1995)).
complaint does not allege a specific damages amount.
Defendant, therefore, “bears the burden of
establishing, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the
amount in controversy exceeds $, 000. Under this burden,
[Defendants] must provide evidence establishing that it is
‘more likely than not’ that the amount in
controversy exceeds that amount.” Sanchez v.
Monumental Life Ins. Co., 102 F.3d 398, 404 (9th Cir.
notice of removal, Defendant asserts the amount in
controversy is at least “three times the
vehicle’s purchase price, or approximately $127,
379.40, plus attorney’s fees and punitive
damages.” (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 9.) This calculation,
according to Defendant, is derived from Plaintiff’s
request for “reimbursement of the price paid for the
vehicle less that amount directly attributable to use by the
Plaintiff, incidental, consequential, and general damages,
and a civil penalty up to two times the amount of actual
damages.” (Id.) (quoting Doc. No. 1-2
¶¶ 140-143.) In support of remand, Plaintiff argues
Defendant’s damage calculation does not consider
Song-Beverly’s rules regarding damages calculations.
(Doc. No. 6 at 8.) More specifically, Plaintiff contends she
does not seek damages based on the total purchase price of
the vehicle, and offers her own calculation of potential
damages as the estimated amount in controversy.
that the removal statute is strictly construed against
removal, and that any doubts as to the propriety of federal
jurisdiction are resolved in favor of remand, the Court finds
Defendant has failed to establish the required jurisdictional
amount in controversy. Although Defendant proposes a
potential recovery amount in excess of $120, 000, the means
for calculating that sum are less than clear in the notice of
removal.Additionally, because the complaint does
not affirmatively state the amount in controversy, Defendant
bears the burden of establishing the jurisdictional threshold
is met by a preponderance of the evidence. Failure to oppose
the instant motion does not carry Defendant’s burden as
the proponent of removal. Accordingly, the allegations in the
notice of removal regarding the potential amount in
controversy are insufficient to establish diversity
jurisdiction. See Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins.
Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090-91 (9th Cir. 2003)
(“Conclusory allegations as to the amount in
controversy are insufficient.”).