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Ferrer v. FCA U.S. LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 6, 2017

NIDIA FERRER, Plaintiff,
v.
FCA U.S. LLC, A Delaware Limited Liability Company; DOES 1 through 10, Inclusive, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. NO. 10)

          Hon. Anthony J. Dattaglia United States District Judge

         Presently before the Court is Plaintiff Nidia Ferrer's ("Ferrer") motion to remand. (Doc. No. 10.) Defendant FCA U.S. LLC ("FCA") opposes the motion. (Doc. No. 14.) Having reviewed the parties' moving papers and controlling legal authority, and pursuant to Local Civil Rule 7.l.d.l, the Court finds the matter suitable for decision on the papers and without oral argument. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Ferrer's motion.

         Background

         This dispute arises from FCA's alleged breach of warranty obligations owed to Ferrer for a new 2011 Jeep Wrangler ("Jeep") she purchased from FCA. Ferrer asserts FCA concealed a known defect from her, specifically, a defect with the totally integrated power module ("TIPM"), which is responsible for controlling and distributing electrical power to the entire vehicle. (Doc. No. 1-3 ¶¶ 10, 13, 15.) Based on this concealment, Ferrer instituted this action in San Diego Superior Court on November 22, 2016, bringing causes of action for breaches of express and implied warranties in violation of California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act ("Song-Beverly Act" or "Act"), as well as a cause of action for fraudulent inducement/concealment under California state common law. (Doc. No. 1 ¶ 1.)

         FCA removed the action to this Court on March 16, 2017, asserting the Court has diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 1 at 1.) On April 18, 2017, Ferrer filed the instant motion to remand, arguing FCA has failed to carry its burden of establishing that the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and that the parties are completely diverse. (Doc. No. 10.) FCA filed an opposition, (Doc. No. 14), and Ferrer replied, (Doc. No. 17). On June 22, 2017, the Court ordered FCA to provide a warranty claim report reflecting the vehicle's mileage as of May 22, 2015, for purposes of calculating the amount in controversy. (Doc. No. 21.) FCA provided this information on June 23, 2017, (Doc. No. 22), and Ferrer did not respond, (see Doc. No. 23). This order follows.

         Legal Standard

         The right to remove a case to federal court is entirely a creature of statute. See Libhart v. Santa Monica Dairy Co., 592 F.2d 1062, 1064 (9th Cir. 1979). The removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, allows defendants to remove an action when a case originally filed in state court presents a federal question, or is between citizens of different states and involves an amount in controversy that exceeds $75, 000. See 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a), (b); 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332(a). Only state court actions that could originally have been filed in federal court can be removed. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a); see also Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987); Ethridge v. Harbor House Rest, 861 F.2d 1389, 1393 (9th Cir. 1988).

         "[j]urisdiction founded on [diversity] requires that parties be in complete diversity and the amount in controversy exceed $75, 000." Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 2003) (per curiam); see 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Complete diversity requires that the plaintiffs citizenship is diverse from that of each named defendant. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a)(1), 1332(c)(1); Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 n.3 (1996). Whether or not complete diversity is present is determined at the time of removal. See Am. Dental Indus., Inc. v. EAX Worldwide, Inc., 228 F.Supp.2d 1155, 1157 (D. Or. 2002) (citing St. Paul Mercury Indem. Co. v. Red Cab Co., 303 U.S. 283, (1938)).

         The Ninth Circuit "strictly construe[s] the removal statute against removal jurisdiction, " and "[f]ederal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance." Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (per curiam) (citations omitted). "The 'strong presumption' against removal jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden of establishing that removal is proper." Id.; see alsoMcNuttv. Gen. Motors Acceptance Corp., Inc., 298 U.S. 178, 189 (1936) (finding that the removing party must prove its allegations by a preponderance of the evidence). The Court takes this proof from the notice of removal and may, if it chooses, construe the opposition to the motion to remand as an amendment to the notice of removal. See Cohn v. Petsmartlnc, 281 F.3d 837, 840 n.l (9th Cir. 2002).

         Discussion

         Ferrer argues three points that she contends require remand of this action to California state court: (1) FCA's amount-in-controversy calculation ignores California state law; (2) FCA, as a limited liability company ("LLC"), has not established the citizenship of its foreign member, nor has it established Ferrer's citizenship; and (3) comity dictates that this case be remanded to state court. (Doc. Nos. 10, 17.) The Court will consider each argument in turn.

         I. Amount in Controversy

         In her complaint, Ferrer seeks, inter alia, "reimbursement of the price paid for the [Jeep] less that amount directly attributable to use by the Plaintiff prior to discovery of the nonconformities" and "a civil penalty of up to two times the amount of actual damages in that FCA [] has willfully failed to comply with its responsibilities under the [Song-Beverly] Act." (Doc. No. 1-3 ¶¶ 151, 154.) Ferrer asserts that FCA has not proven the amount in controversy exceeds $75, 000. (Doc. No. 10-1 at 7-10; Doc. No. 17 at 6-8.)

         Ferrer contends FCA's notice of removal improperly relies on an approximation of the cash price, but offers no explanation as to why this number is the proper figure to base the amount-in-controversy calculation on. (Doc. No. 10-1 at 8-9.) In response, FCA points to the retail installment sale contract ("RISC"), attached to the complaint, as well as FCA warranty claim reports, documents upon which it ...


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