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Eisenacher v. BMW of North America, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

April 20, 2017

KARI EISENACHER and DAVID EISENACHER, Plaintiffs,
v.
BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC; SAI MONROVIA B, INC.; and DOES 1-10, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO STRIKE [16] AND DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO REMAND [15]

          OTIS D. WRIGHT, II UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         I. INTRODUCTION

         Plaintiffs Kari and David Eisenacher (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed this action in the Los Angeles County Superior Court on December 8, 2016. (See Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1.) The original Complaint named BMW of North America, LLC (“BMW”) and PAG Santa Ana B1, Inc. (“PAG Santa Ana”), as defendants. (Compl., ECF No. 1-1.) BMW is a Delaware corporation, and PAG Santa Ana is a California corporation. (Id. ¶¶ 4, 5.) On January 27, 2017, Plaintiffs dismissed PAG Santa Ana from the action without prejudice. (Not. of Dismissal, ECF No. 1-3.) Following the dismissal of PAG Santa Ana, there was no longer a California corporation among the defendants, and thus BMW removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction. (See Not. of Removal.) Then, on February 13, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) naming SAI Monrovia B, Inc. (“SAI Monrovia”), as an additional defendant. (ECF No. 9.) SAI Monrovia is a California corporation. (Id. ¶ 5.)

         The parties now disagree about whether SAI Monrovia was properly joined as a defendant and what its joinder means for the case. BMW moves to strike the FAC, arguing that Plaintiff needed the Court's permission to add SAI Monrovia. (ECF No. 15.) Plaintiffs move to remand this case as there is no longer complete diversity. (ECF No. 16.) For the reasons discussed below, the Court GRANTS BMW's Motion to Strike and DENIES AS MOOT Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand.[1]

         II. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

         This lawsuit relates to Plaintiffs' purchase of a 2012 BMW. (FAC ¶ 7.) In connection with the purchase, BMW[2] provided Plaintiffs with an express written warranty. (Id. ¶ 8.) The warranty established BMW's duty to preserve or maintain the function of the vehicle or to compensate Plaintiffs in the event of a failure in utility or performance in a specific timeframe. (Id.) The warranty provided that if a defect developed within the warranty period, BMW would repair the vehicle. (Id.) Plaintiffs allege that during the warranty period, their vehicle did develop defects, including: excessive oil consumption, oil leakage, shimmy and noises in the steering wheel, smoke and oil coming from the exhaust, fuel injector failure, faulty timing chain, faulty fuel feed lines, faulty vacuum pumps and crackcase vent hoses, and a faulty battery. (Id. ¶ 9.) Plaintiffs claim that they attempted to have BMW “and its representatives in this state” repair the vehicle, but they were unable to do so after a reasonable number of opportunities. (Id. ¶ 10.) Even though BMW could not repair the vehicle, it failed to replace the vehicle or compensate Plaintiffs as required by law.[3] (Id.) Plaintiffs bring this suit based on allegations of statutory violations, including the Song-Beverly Act (California's Lemon Law), Breach of Express Warranty, Breach of the Implied Warranty of Merchantability, and violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act. (See generally id.)

         III. MOTION TO STRIKE

         BMW argues that Plaintiffs' entire FAC should be stricken because Plaintiffs filed it outside of the window to do so as a matter of right, and they failed to obtain BMW's consent or leave from the Court. (Mot. to Strike 3.) Plaintiffs, on the other hand, claim that BMW did not properly remove this case to federal court in the first instance, and additionally, that BMW failed to meet and confer prior to filing their Motion to Strike. (See Reply.) Plaintiffs also argue that they are subject to a different window of time in which to file a new complaint as a matter of right. (Id.) Moreover, BMW and Plaintiffs take opposing positions on the issue of whether the Court should allow Plaintiffs leave to amend their Complaint if it treats their filing as a de facto motion for leave.

         A. Legal Standard

         Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(f) provides that “[t]he court may strike from a pleading an insufficient defense or any redundant, immaterial, impertinent, or scandalous matter.” The decision to grant a motion to strike is at the court's discretion. Fantasy, Inc. v. Fogerty, 984 F.2d 1524, 1528 (9th Cir. 1993), rev'd on other grounds sub nom. Fogerty v. Fantasy, Inc., 510 U.S. 517 (1994). The court must view the pleadings in the light most favorable to the non-moving party. In re 2TheMart.com Sec. Litig., 114 F.Supp.2d 955, 965 (C.D. Cal. 2000).

         The court may grant a motion to strike “to avoid the expenditure of time and money that must arise from litigating spurious issues by dispensing with those issues prior to trial.” Whittlestone, Inc. v. Handi-Craft Co., 618 F.3d 970, 973 (9th Cir. 2010) (citing Fantasy, 984 F.2d at 1527). Courts may also grant a motion to strike in order to streamline the resolution of the action and focus the jury's attention on the real issues in the case. Fantasy, 984 F.2d at 1528. However, “motions to strike are generally disfavored due to the limited role that pleadings play in federal practice, and because they are often used as a delaying tactic.” Cal. Dept. of Toxic Substances Control v. Alco Pac., Inc., 217 F.Supp.2d 1028, 1033 (C.D. Cal. 2002).

         Where an amended complaint is filed outside of the time to do so as a matter of right, a court may strike the amended pleading if the plaintiff has not obtained leave to amend or written consent of the adverse party. Vazquez v. Select Portfolio Servicing, No. 13-cv-03789-JST, 2014 WL 117390, at *4 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 13, 2014); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 15.

         B. Discussion

         Firstly, the Court declines to decide the matter based on Plaintiffs' arguments that BMW failed to meet and confer prior to filing its Motion to Strike. Plaintiffs claim that BMW never notified them of its intention to file such a motion, but BMW directly disputes this, stating that it met and conferred with Plaintiffs on several occasions regarding its issues with Plaintiffs' FAC. (Compare Opp'n to Mot. to Strike 8-9, ECF No. 17, with Reply to Mot. to Strike ...


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