United States District Court, N.D. California
ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO TRANSFER RE:
TIGAR United States District Judge
the Court is Defendant Whirlpool Corporation's motion to
dismiss, stay, or transfer under the first-to-file rule, or
in the alternative, to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the
Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. This case involves two
overlapping prospective class action lawsuits against
Whirlpool: the first-filed case in the Western District of
Michigan and the instant case filed in the Northern District
of California. For the following reasons, the Court will
grant the motion, and transfer the instant case to the
Western District of Michigan.
REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE
asks the Court to take judicial notice of the docket,
complaint, and order granting the partial motion to dismiss
from Burch v. Whirlpool Corporation,
“Burch”), the lawsuit in the Western
District of Michigan. ECF No. 34 at 12. Plaintiffs do not
oppose Whirlpool's request for judicial notice of these
documents. See generally, ECF No. 35. Because a
court “may take notice of proceedings in other courts .
. . if those proceedings have a direct relation to matters at
issue, ” Bias v. Moynihan, 508 F.3d 1212, 1225
(9th Cir. 2007) (internal quotation marks and citation
omitted), the Court grants Whirlpool's request in its
courts have diversity jurisdiction over class action lawsuits
when the amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000
(exclusive of interest and costs), there are more than 100
members in the proposed class, and any member of the proposed
class is a citizen of a State different from any defendant.
28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Plaintiffs' First Amended
Complaint (“FAC”) states that Plaintiffs'
combined claims amount to at least $5, 000, 000 exclusive of
interest and costs, that there are at least 100 class members
in the proposed class, and that the class representatives are
citizens of California while Whirlpool is a citizen of
Delaware and Michigan. ECF No. 24 ¶ 17. The Court
therefore has jurisdiction over this matter.
moment, there are two nationwide prospective class action
lawsuits against Whirlpool regarding dishwashers that are
defective in the same way. On January 5, 2017, Warren Burch
filed a complaint in the Western District of Michigan.
Burch, ECF No. 1. In his First Amended Complaint,
Burch seeks to represent a proposed class of nationwide and
Virginia consumers who bought and use Whirlpool residential
dishwashers. Burch, ECF No. 13 ¶¶ 2,
34-35. He alleges that Whirlpool's dishwashers “are
defective in that their upper rack adjusters . . . are made
of brittle plastic that routinely break during normal
use.” Id ¶ 2. Burch sued for breach of
express warranty, breach of implied warranty, fraudulent
concealment, and unjust enrichment; however, breach of
implied warranty is the only cause of action that remains.
Burch, ECF No. 22.
September 19, 2017, roughly nine months after Burch filed his
complaint, Plaintiffs James Bodley and Kyle Matson filed the
instant action. ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs seek to represent
nationwide and California consumers who bought a KitchenAid
dishwasher or a home with a KitchenAid dishwasher already
installed. FAC ¶ 96. They allege that the “upper
rack assemblies . . . are defective and fail as the heat
generated by the dishwasher causes the plastic components to
become brittle and break . . . .” Id. ¶
3. Plaintiffs seek relief for violations of the Unfair
Competition Law and the Consumer Legal Remedies Act,
fraudulent concealment, breach of express and implied
warranty, breach of express and implied warranty under the
Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, and breach of express and
implied warranty under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Id ¶¶ 111 -223.
moves to dismiss, stay, or transfer this action under the
first-to-file rule. See ECF No. 34. Whirlpool also
moves, in the alternative to dismiss all nine causes of
action for failure to state a claim. See id
Plaintiffs oppose both. See ECF No. 35.
first-to-file rule “allows a district court to
transfer, stay, or dismiss an action when a similar complaint
has already been filed in another federal court. . . .”
Alltrade, Inc. v. Uniweld Prods. Inc., 946 F.3d 622,
623 (9th Cir. 1991). A district court examines three
threshold factors in deciding whether to apply the
first-to-file rule: the chronology of the two actions, the
similarity of the parties, and the similarity of the issues.
Id at 625-26; Pacesetter Sys., Inc. v.
Medtronic, Inc., 678 F.2d 93, 95 (9th Cir. 1982)
(citations omitted); see also Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr. v.
Shalala, 125 F.3d 765, 769 (9th Cir. 1997). “The
principle underlying the federal comity doctrine is
‘wise judicial administration, giving regard to
conservation of judicial resources and comprehensive
disposition of litigation.'” Benson v. JPMorgan
Chase Bank, N.A., No. C-09-5272 EMC, 2010 WL 1445532, at
*2 (N.D. Cal. Apr. 7, 2010) (quoting Pacesetter
Systems, 678 F.2d at 94-95).
the first-to-file rule “should not be disregarded
lightly, ” Church of Scientology v. U.S. Dep't
of the Army, 611 F.2d 738, 750 (9th Cir. 1979),
overruled on other grounds by Animal Legal Def. Fund v.
U.S. Food & Drug Admin., 836 F.3d 987 (9th Cir.
2016), “district courts can, in the exercise of their
discretion, dispense with the first-filed principle for
reasons of equity.” Ward v. Follett Corp., 158
F.R.D. 645, 648 (N.D. Cal. 1994). Courts can deviate from the
first-to-file rule when the first suit was filed in bad
faith, or anticipatorily, or when there is evidence of forum
shopping, or an imbalance of convenience. Alltrade,
946 F.2d at 628.