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Hocking v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

July 19, 2019

Edward Hocking, et al.
v.
Ford Motor Company, et al.

          Present: The Honorable MICHAEL W. FITZGERALD, U.S. District Judge

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings (In Chambers): ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND [10]

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs Edward Hocking and Kimberly Hocking's Motion to Remand (the “Motion”), filed on June 11, 2019. (Docket No. 10). Defendants Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) and Cappo Management XXIX, Inc. d/b/a Harrold Ford (“Harrold Ford”) filed an Opposition on June 24, 2019. (Docket No. 14). Plaintiffs filed their Reply on July 1, 2019. (Docket No. 15).

         The Motion was noticed to be heard on July 15, 2019. The Court read and considered the papers on the Motion and deemed the matter appropriate for decision without oral argument. See Fed. R. Civ. P. 78(b); Local Rule 7-15. The hearing was therefore VACATED and removed from the Court's calendar.

         For the reasons discussed below, the Motion is GRANTED. Ford has not established that Harrold Ford, the dealership, was fraudulently joined, “fraudulently” being used here with its technical jurisdictional meaning. Specifically, Plaintiffs' claim against Harrold Ford might be timely because there are sufficient facts alleged supporting a colorable argument of delayed discovery. The Court also declines to exercise its discretion to drop Harrold Ford as a Defendant. Because Plaintiffs are California residents and Harrold Ford is a California corporation, this Court lacks diversity jurisdiction and the action must be remanded.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On April 11, 2019, Plaintiffs commenced this action in the Los Angeles County Superior Court. (See Notice of Removal (“NoR”), Ex. 1, Complaint (Docket No. 1-1)). Plaintiffs are residents of West Sacramento, California. (Id. ¶ 2). Ford is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business is in Michigan. (Id. ¶ 4; NoR ¶ 18). Harrold Ford is a California corporation conducting business in Sacramento. (Compl. ¶ 5).

         The Complaint alleges as follows:

         On February 12, 2013, Plaintiffs purchased from Harrold Ford a 2013 Ford C-Max vehicle (the “Vehicle”). (Id. ¶ 7). Plaintiffs received an express written warranty in which Ford undertook to “preserve or maintain the utility or performance” of the Vehicle or to “provide compensation if there is a failure in utility or performance for a specified period of time.” (Id. ¶ 8). The warranty provided, in relevant part, that in the event of a defect during the warranty period, Plaintiffs could “deliver the Vehicle for repair services to [Ford's] representative and the Vehicle would be repaired.” (Id.). After purchasing the Vehicle and during the warranty period, Plaintiffs experienced problems with the Vehicle related to the engine, defects related to the Vehicle's Accessory Protocol Interface Module, defects relating to the electronic system within the Vehicle, and defects relating to the mechanics of the body of the Vehicle. (See id. ¶ 9).

         Plaintiffs allege that Defendants knew of the Vehicle's flaws and “were unable to service or repair the Vehicle to conform to the applicable express warranties after a reasonable number of repair attempts.” (Id. ¶ 13).

         Plaintiffs assert five claims for relief: (1)-(3) violations of the Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1790 et seq.; (4) breach of express written warranty; and (5) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability (Id. ¶¶ 1-32). Plaintiffs assert all five claims against both Defendants.

         On May 20, 2019, Defendants timely removed the action, invoking the Court's diversity jurisdiction and asserting that Harrold Ford was fraudulently joined. (See NoR ¶¶ 17-37).

         II. REQUEST FOR JUDICIAL NOTICE

         Along with the Motion, Plaintiffs request that the Court take judicial notice of an order in Less v. Ford Motor Company, No. 18-CV-1992-MAA, 2018 WL 4444509, (S.D. Cal. Sept. 18, 2018), remanding that action back to the San Diego County Superior Court. (Request for Judicial ...


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