United States District Court, E.D. California
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO
A. MENDEZ, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
January 22, 2019, Ralph and Sandra Garcia
(“Plaintiffs”) filed a suit against Ford Motor
Company and Downtown Ford Sales (collectively
“Defendants”) in Sacramento Superior Court.
Plaintiffs claimed Defendants committed fraud and violated
several provisions of California's “Song-Beverly
Act, ” Cal. Civ. Code § 1790, et seq. See
generally Compl., ECF No. 1-1.
received a copy of Plaintiffs' complaint on January 31,
2019 and filed a timely notice of removal on March 4, 2019.
ECF No. 1. See also 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b); Fed.
R. Civ. Proc. 6(a). The notice invoked the Court's
diversity jurisdiction, arguing (1) the Court should dismiss
Downtown Ford as fraudulently joined; (2) the Court should
dismiss Downtown Ford under Rule 21 even if the
fraudulent-joinder doctrine does not apply; and (3) the
amount in controversy exceeds $ 75, 000. Notice of Removal
¶¶ 3-8. In response, Plaintiffs filed a motion to
remand. Mot. to Remand (“Mot.”), ECF No.
reasons set forth below, the Court finds that Defendants
failed to show Plaintiffs fraudulently joined Downtown Ford.
Furthermore, the Court declines to dismiss Downtown Ford
under Rule 21 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. As a
result, Downtown Ford defeats Defendants' claims of
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) and
prevents removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). Because
Defendants did not show they satisfied Section 1332's
diversity requirement, the Court need not address the
amount-in-controversy issue. The Court GRANTS Plaintiffs'
motion to remand.
bought a 2013 Ford Edge “in or about March 2013.”
Compl. at ¶ 8. Downtown Ford, a California dealership,
sold Plaintiffs the vehicle. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 8. Ford
Motor, a corporation incorporated in Delaware with a
principal place of business in Michigan, manufactured and/or
distributed the vehicle. Compl. ¶ 8. See also
Notice of Removal ¶ 18.
newly-purchased vehicle included a 3-year/36, 000-mile
express bumper-to-bumper warranty and a 5-year/60, 000-mile
powertrain warranty. Compl. ¶ 9. During the warranty
Plaintiff's vehicle displayed several defects. Compl.
¶ 10. On multiple occasions, Plaintiffs brought the
defects to Defendants' attention and requested repairs.
Compl. ¶¶ 14, 26. Defendants, nevertheless, failed
to conform the vehicle to the applicable warranties, replace
the vehicle, or provide restitution. Compl. ¶¶ 14,
defendant to remove a civil case from state court, he must
prove the federal court has original jurisdiction over the
suit. 28 U.S.C. § 1441. A federal court may exercise
jurisdiction over a case involving purely state law claims
when there is complete diversity between the parties and an
amount in controversy exceeding $ 75, 000. 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). To satisfy Section 1332's diversity requirement,
no plaintiff may be a citizen of the same state as any
defendant. Id. When a case is removed on the basis
diversity jurisdiction, no defendant may be a citizen of the
state where Plaintiff brought the suit. 28 U.S.C. §
will dismiss a fraudulently-joined defendant and disregard
its citizenship when determining whether the parties are
diverse. McCabe v. General Foods Corp., 811 F.2d
1336, 1339 (9th Cir. 1986). A joinder is fraudulent when (1)
there is actual fraud in the pleading of jurisdictional
facts; or (2) a plaintiff cannot establish a cause of action
against the non-diverse party in state court. Id.
Courts do not often find joinder fraudulent-the burden of
persuasion is high and rests squarely on defendants'
shoulders. Grancare, LLC v. Thrower by and through
Mills, 889 F.3d 543, 548 (9th Cir. 2018). A court
resolves “all disputed questions of fact and all
ambiguities in the controlling state law . . . in the
plaintiff's favor.” Warner v. Select Portfolio
Servicint, et al., 193 F.Supp.3d 1132, 1135 (C.D. Cal.
2016). After which, it must “appear to near
certainty” that joinder was fraudulent. Diaz v.
Allstate Insur. Group, 185 F.R.D. 581, 586 (C.D. Cal.
defendant adopts the second approach to showing fraudulent
joinder, he must prove plaintiff “fail[ed] to state a
cause of action against a resident defendant . . . [that] is
obvious according to the settled rules of the state.”
Hunter v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1043-44
(9th Cir. 2008). Courts do not take this obviousness
requirement lightly. If there is even a
“possibility” that a state court would
find that the complaint states a cause of action against any
of the [non-diverse] defendants, ” a federal court
“must find the defendant properly joined and remand the
case to state court.” Grancare, LLC, 889 F.3d
at 549 (emphasis and modification in original). In this
sense, the test for fraudulent joinder differs from the test
that governs a Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss. Id.
The Ninth Circuit recently highlighted this difference:
If a plaintiff's complaint can withstand a Rule 12(b)(6)
motion with respect to a particular defendant, it necessarily
follows that the defendant has not been fraudulently joined.
But the reverse is not true. If a defendant cannot withstand
a Rule 12(b)(6) motion, the fraudulent inquiry does not end
there . . . . [T]he district court must consider . . .