United States District Court, N.D. California
M. CHEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND DOCKET
2012, Plaintiff Alexis Covarrubias (“Plaintiff”)
purchased a vehicle manufactured by Ford Motor Company
(“Ford”) from Citrus Motors Ontario Inc.
(“Citrus Motors”), a Ford dealership. The vehicle
was covered by Ford's express written warranty. The
vehicle developed defects during the warranty period that
Ford and Citrus Motors could not repair, and Ford did not
replace the vehicle or make restitution to Plaintiff.
Plaintiff filed suit against both Ford and Citrus Motors
(collectively, “Defendants”) in state court,
asserting five claims against Ford and one claim, for breach
of the implied warranty of merchantability, against Citrus
Motors. Defendants then removed the action to this Court,
alleging that Plaintiff had fraudulently joined Citrus Motors
in this case for no reason other than to defeat federal
before the Court is Plaintiff's motion to remand the case
to state court. Docket No. 13 (“Mot.”). Because
Ford has met its heavy burden of showing that Citrus Motors
was fraudulently joined, and the amount-in-controversy
requirement for diversity jurisdiction is met, the Court
DENIES the motion to remand.
state court complaint alleges that on June 28, 2012, she
purchased a 2012 Ford F-150 vehicle (the
“Vehicle”) from Citrus Motors. Docket No. 1-1
(“Compl.”) ¶ 8. In connection with the
purchase, Plaintiff received an express 3-year/36, 000 mile
bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60, 000 mile
powertrain warranty from Ford. Id. ¶ 9. Under
the warranty, Ford undertook to maintain the utility or
performance of the Vehicle or to provide compensation if
there is a failure in utility or performance. Id. If
the Vehicle developed a defect and Plaintiff presented the
Vehicle to Ford's representative, the representative
would repair the defect. Id.
Vehicle developed numerous defects during the warranty period
that substantially impaired the use, value, or safety of the
Vehicle, including defects related to the engine,
transmission, and electrical system. Id. ¶ 10.
Ford and its representatives “have been unable to
service or repair the Vehicle to conform to the applicable
express warranties after a reasonable number of
opportunities.” Id. ¶ 11. Despite this,
Ford did not “promptly replace the Vehicle or make
restitution to Plaintiff.” Id.
February 25, 2019, Plaintiff filed her complaint against
Defendants in the Santa Clara Superior Court. The complaint
asserts various causes of action against Ford, including
breach of implied warranty in violation of the Song-Beverly
Consumer Warranty Act (“Song-Beverly Act”), Cal.
Civ. Code § 1790, et seq. See Id.
¶¶ 8-33. The same cause of action for breach of
implied warranty is the only claim asserted against Citrus
Motors. See Id. ¶¶ 29-33.
April 4, 2019, Defendants filed a notice of removal on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction. Docket No. 1 at 1. The
notice of removal alleges that there is complete diversity of
the parties because Plaintiff is a citizen of California and
Ford is a citizen of Michigan and Delaware. Id.
¶¶ 18-19. Ford claims that the California
citizenship of Citrus Motors does not defeat diversity
because Plaintiff named Citrus Motors as a defendant for the
sole purpose of preventing removal. Id. ¶ 21.
Ford further alleges that the amount in controversy exceeds
$75, 000 based upon the allegations in Plaintiff's
complaint. Id. ¶¶ 10-17.
moved to remand this case to state court on May 10, 2019.
See Mot. Defendants oppose the motion. See
Docket No. 15 (“Opp.”).
defendant may remove “any civil action brought in a
State court of which the district courts . . . have original
jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). District
courts have original jurisdiction over civil actions between
citizens of different states in which the amount in
controversy exceeds $75, 000. Id. § 1332(a)(1).
To properly invoke diversity jurisdiction, the defendant
bears the burden of proving that the parties in the action
are completely diverse, i.e., that “each
plaintiff [is] of a different citizenship from each
defendant.” Grancare, LLC v. Thrower by &
through Mills, 889 F.3d 543, 548 (9th Cir. 2018).
removal statutes are strictly construed against removal.
Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir.
1992). “The strong presumption against removal
jurisdiction means that the defendant always has the burden
of establishing that removal is proper, and that the court
resolves all ambiguity in favor of remand to state
court.” Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d
1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 2009) (citation and internal quotation
marks omitted). If a defendant improperly removes a case over
which the federal court lacks diversity jurisdiction, the
federal court must remand the case to state court. 28 U.S.C.
the removing party must establish complete diversity,
“fraudulently joined defendants will not defeat removal
on diversity grounds.” Ritchey v. Upjohn Drug
Co., 139 F.3d 1313, 1318 (9th Cir. 1998). “The
term ‘fraudulent joinder' is a term of art, used
for removal purposes, and does not connote any intent to
deceive on the part of plaintiff or his counsel.”
Plute v. Roadway Package Sys., Inc., 141 F.Supp.2d
1005, 1008 n.2 (N.D. Cal. 2001). The Ninth Circuit has
recently clarified that there are two ways to establish
(1) actual fraud in the pleading of jurisdictional facts, or
(2) inability of the plaintiff to establish a cause of action
against the non-diverse party in state court. Fraudulent
joinder is established the second way if a defendant shows
that an individual joined in the action cannot be liable on
any theory. But if there is a possibility that a
state court would find that the complaint states a cause of
action against any of the resident ...