United States District Court, C.D. California
Pedro W. Barillas et al.
FCA U.S. LLC et al.
Present: The Honorable STEPHEN V. WILSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
IN CHAMBERS ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND
 AND DENYING DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE
Introduction and Background
March 1, 2019, Plaintiffs Pedro W. Barillas and Ingrid
Martinez filed the instant suit against Defendants FCA U.S.
LLC and BN Dealership I, LLC (dba West Valley Chrysler Jeep).
Dkt. 3, Ex. A. Plaintiffs assert claims against Defendant FCA
for: (1) violation of the Song-Beverly Act (breach of express
warranty); (2) violation of the Song-Beverly Act (breach of
implied warranty); and (3) violation of Cal. Civ. Code §
1793.2. Plaintiffs bring one claim against Defendant West
Valley Chrysler Jeep for negligent repair. Id.
April 8, 2019, Defendant FCA removed the action to this
Court. Dkt. 1. The alleged basis for removal was diversity of
citizenship. Id. at 3. Plaintiffs now move to remand
the action to state court on the ground that Defendants have
not met their burden to establish diversity jurisdiction.
Summary of Allegations
Allegations of the Complaint
crux of Plaintiffs' allegations is that in 2012,
Plaintiffs purchased a new 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was
manufactured and/or distributed by Defendant FCA. Dkt. 3, Ex.
A ¶¶ 9, 14. The vehicle was delivered to Plaintiffs
with, and further developed, a variety of defects during the
warranty period, including suspension, electrical, engine,
and transmission defects. Id. ¶ 10. Plaintiffs
allege that Defendant FCA was unable to conform their vehicle
to the applicable express warranties after a reasonable
number of repair attempts. Id. ¶ 24. Plaintiffs
also allege that they delivered the vehicle to Defendant West
Valley Chrysler Jeep for repair on numerous occasions, and
that it failed to properly store, prepare, and repair the
vehicle in accordance with industry standards. Id.
¶¶ 58, 60. Plaintiffs seek actual damages,
restitution, and civil penalties. Id. at 8.
Allegations Regarding Removal
FCA alleged removal jurisdiction based on complete diversity
of the parties. Defendant FCA is a limited liability company,
organized under the laws of the State of Delaware and with
its principal place of business in Michigan. Dkt. 24 at 5.
Plaintiffs are citizens and residents of the State of
California. Id. Defendant West Valley Chrysler Jeep
is also alleged to be a citizen of California. Id.
However, Defendant FCA alleges that Defendant West Valley
Chrysler Jeep is a sham defendant, joined only to defeat
diversity jurisdiction. Id. at 5-6.
States federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.
Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 256 (2013).
Consequently, a “federal court is presumed to lack
jurisdiction in a particular case unless the contrary
affirmatively appears.” Stock West, Inc. v.
Confederated Tribes, 873 F.2d 1221, 1225 (9th Cir.
1989). Due to this presumption, federal courts must exercise
“prudence and restraint” when considering the
propriety of removal. Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v.
Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 810 (1986). Thus, “[i]f a
district court determines at any time that less than a
preponderance of the evidence supports the right of removal,
it must remand the action to the state court.”
Hansen v. Grp. Health Coop., 902 F.3d 1051, 1057
(9th Cir. 2018). “The removing defendant bears the
burden of overcoming the ‘strong presumption against
removal jurisdiction.'” Id. (quoting
Geographic Expeditions, Inc. v. Estate of Lhotka ex rel.
Lhotka, 599 F.3d 1102, 1107 (9th Cir. 2010)).
contend that Defendants have failed to meet their burden to
establish diversity jurisdiction because they have not
established that Defendant West Valley Chrysler Jeep is
fraudulently joined. Only if a court finds that a defendant
was fraudulently joined simply to defeat complete diversity
and the defendant “cannot be liable on any
theory” may the court disregard the citizenship of the
“sham” defendant for removal purposes.
Ritchey v. Upjohn Drug Co., 139 F.3d 1313, 1318 (9th
Cir. 1998); see also Morris v. Princess Cruises,
Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001) (stating that
fraudulent joinder occurs where a plaintiff's failure to
state a claim is “obvious according to the settled
rules of the state”); Hunter v. Philip Morris
USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1046 (9th Cir. 2009) (“[I]f
there is a possibility that a state court would find
that the complaint states a cause of action against any of
the resident defendants, the federal court must find that the
joinder was proper and remand the case to the state
court.”) (emphasis added). ...