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Adams v. BMW of North America, LLC

United States District Court, S.D. California

August 31, 2017

GEORGE ADAMS, Plaintiff,
v.
BMW OF NORTH AMERICA, LLC, Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION FOR LEAVE TO AMEND; [DOC. NO. 14] DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [DOC. NO. 15]

          HON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         On January 12, 2017, Defendant removed this action to this Court from the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. Now, Plaintiff moves for leave to amend the pleadings, and moves to remand this case to state court. See Doc. Nos. 14, 15. The Court found the matters suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1(d)(1). For the following reasons, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend, and DENIES Plaintiff's motion to remand. See Doc. Nos. 14, 15.

         Background

         On December 5, 2016, Plaintiff George Adams filed this action against Defendant BMW of North America, LLC alleging causes of action for violation of California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, California Commercial Code section 2313 et seq. See Doc. No. 1. Plaintiff served Defendant on December 16, 2016. Specifically, Plaintiff's Complaint alleges causes of action for breach of the implied warranty of merchantability and breach of express warranty under the Act. Plaintiff's claims arise out of his purchase of a 2014 BMW Pathfinder vehicle (“the subject vehicle”), which Plaintiff alleges had “defects, malfunctions, misadjustments and/or nonconformities.” See Compl., Doc. No. 1-2, ¶ 11.

         After answering the Complaint on January 10, 2017, Defendant removed this action to this Court on January 12, 2017. In removing the action, Defendant invoked diversity jurisdiction pursuant to Title 28 of the United States Code, sections 1332(a) and 1441(a). See Doc. No. 1.

         Since this case was removed, the Parties have participated in an Early Neutral Evaluation and a Case Management Conference with the assigned magistrate judge, and have submitted a joint discovery plan. Further, on June 9, 2017, the assigned magistrate judge issued the Scheduling Order regulating discovery and other pre-trial proceedings in this action. Among other things, the Scheduling Order dictates that any motion to join parties or amend the pleadings must be filed on or before July 7, 2017. On July 6, 2017, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to amend the pleadings and motion to remand. See Doc. Nos. 14, 15.

         Legal Standard

         Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Lowdermilk v. U.S. Bank Nat'l Ass'n, 479 F.3d 994, 997 (9th Cir. 2007). Federal courts possess only that power authorized by the Constitution or a statute. See Bender v. Williamsport Area Sch. Dist., 475 U.S. 534, 541 (1986). Pursuant to Title 28 of the United States Code, section 1332(a)(1), a federal district court has jurisdiction over “all actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, ” and the dispute is between citizens of different states. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The Supreme Court has interpreted § 1332 to require “complete diversity of citizenship, ” meaning each plaintiff must be diverse from each defendant. Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 67-68 (1996). Title 28 of the United States Code, section 1441(a), provides for removal of a civil action from state to federal court if the case could have originated in federal court. If a matter is removable solely on the basis of diversity jurisdiction pursuant to § 1332, the action may not be removed if any properly joined and served defendant is a citizen of the forum state. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). If, after proper removal, subject matter jurisdiction is destroyed, a plaintiff may file a motion to remand or the court may raise the jurisdictional issue sua sponte. See Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 93-94 (1998); see Indus. Tectonics, Inc. v. Aero Alloy, 912 F.2d 1090, 1092 (9th Cir. 1990); Sabag v. FCA US, LLC, No. 216CV06639CASRAOX, 2016 WL 6581154, at *7 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 7, 2016).

         Discussion

         Plaintiff moves for leave to amend the pleadings in order to add a non-diverse defendant. See Doc. No. 14. Plaintiff also moves to remand this action to state court on the grounds that joinder of the non-diverse defendant destroys the Court's jurisdiction over this action. See Doc. No. 15. Because both motions depend on the propriety of Plaintiff's request to add a diversity-destroying defendant, the Court begins by addressing Plaintiff's motion for leave to amend.

         A. Motion for Leave to Amend

         Plaintiff seeks leave to amend in order to add as a defendant GMG Motors, Inc. d/b/a BMW of San Diego (“GMG Motors”). Plaintiff wishes to assert a state law claim of negligence against GMG Motors for allegedly negligent repair of the subject vehicle. Plaintiff argues that joinder of GMG Motors would be proper under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20, and that pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15, the Court should grant leave to amend with “extreme liberality.” See Doc. No. 14.

         However, as Defendant correctly points out, Rule 15 does not apply where a plaintiff seeks to add a non-diverse defendant, as is the case here.[1] District courts in California agree that where a party “seeks to join additional defendants whose joinder would destroy subject matter jurisdiction, ” courts must consider whether to exercise their discretion to allow joinder under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e), rather than under the more liberal Rule 15(a) standard. See, e.g., San Jose Neurospine v. Cigna Health & Life Ins. Co., No. 16-CV-05061-LHK, 2016 WL 7242139, at *6-7 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 15, 2016); Clinco v. Roberts, 41 F.Supp.2d 1080, 1087 (C.D. Cal. 1999). Specifically, section 1447(e) states that “[i]f after removal the plaintiff seeks to join additional defendants whose joinder would destroy subject matter jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or permit joinder and remand the action to the State court.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e). District courts in California generally consider six factors in determining the “propriety and fairness” of permitting joinder:

(1) [W]hether the party sought to be joined is needed for just adjudication and would be joined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a); (2) whether the statute of limitations would preclude an original action against the new defendant[] in state court; (3) whether there has been unexplained delay in requesting joinder; (4) whether joinder is intended solely to defeat federal jurisdiction; (5) whether the claims against the new defendant appear valid; and (6) whether denial of joinder will prejudice the plaintiff.

See, e.g., Lara v. Bandit Indus., Inc., No. 2:12-CV-02459-MCE-AC, 2013 WL 1155523, at *1-2 (E.D. Cal. Mar. 19, 2013) (quoting IBC Aviation Serv., Inc. v. Compania Mexicana de Aviacion, S.A. de C.V., 125 F.Supp.2d 1008, 1011 (N.D. Cal. 2000)); Medina v. Oanda Corp., No. 5:16-CV-02170-EJD, 2017 WL 1159572, at *3 (N.D. Cal. Mar. 29, 2017). However, many courts only analyze the first five of the above factors. See Clinco, 41 F.Supp.2d at 1082. Further, other courts have considered additional factors such as whether joinder will result in prejudice to any of the parties, “the closeness of the relationship between the new and the old parties, ” the effect that joinder would have on the district court's jurisdiction, and whether the new party had notice of the pendency of the instant action. See Murphy v. Am. Gen. Life Ins. Co., 74 F.Supp.3d 1267, 1278 (C.D. Cal. 2015). Courts “look at the factors as a whole.” See IBC Aviation Servs., Inc., 125 F.Supp.2d at 1013. “Any of the factors might prove decisive, and none is an absolutely necessary condition for joinder.” Yang v. Swissport USA, Inc., No. C 09- 03823 SI, 2010 WL 2680800, at *3 (N.D. Cal. July 6, 2010).

         In Defendant's opposition brief, Defendant addresses all of the factors listed above. In Plaintiff's reply brief, he only addresses whether GMG Motors is needed for just adjudication, the timeliness of his motion, and the validity of his negligence claim. As such, the Court analyzes as many of the ...


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