United States District Court, C.D. California
Present Honorable R. GARY KLAUSNER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
(IN CHAMBERS) ORDER Remanding Action to State Court
30, 2019, Jesus Lopez ("Plaintiff) filed a complaint
against FCA U.S. LLC ("Defendant") alleging
violations of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (15 U.S.C.
§§ 2301 et seq.) and the Song-Beverly
Consumer Warranty Act (Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1790
et seq.). Plaintiffs allegations arise from a lease
of a vehicle from Defendant.
August 30, 2019, Defendant removed the action to this Court
on federal question and diversity jurisdiction grounds. Upon
review of Defendant's Notice of Removal, the Court hereby
remands the action for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Federal Question Jurisdiction
to 28 U.S.C. § 1331, a district court shall have
original jurisdiction over any civil action "arising
under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United
States." A federal question claim brought under the
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act also requires that the
amount-in-controversy exceeds "$50, 000 (exclusive of
interests and costs) computed on the basis of all claims to
be determined in this suit." 15 U.S.C. §
2310(d)(3)(B). After a plaintiff files an action in state
court, the defendant attempting to remove the action bears
the burden of proving the amount-in-controversy requirement
has been met. Lowdermilk v. United States Bank Nat'l
Ass'n, 479 F.3d 994, 998 (9th Cir. 2007). If the
complaint does not allege that the amount-in-controversy has
been met, the removing defendant must supply this
jurisdictional fact in the notice of removal by a
preponderance of the evidence. Gnas v. Miles, Inc.,
980 F.2d 564, 566-67 (9th Cir. 1992). Courts must
"strictly construe the removal statute against removal
jurisdiction" and remand an action "if there is any
doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance."
Id. at 566.
seeks restitution for all money paid, incidental and
consequential damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees. In
the Notice of Removal, Defendant asserts that Plaintiffs
Magnuson-Moss claim arises out of federal law and that the
amount-in-controversy exceeds $50, 000. In support. Defendant
states that Plaintiff seeks damages of $165, 973.08, at a
minimum. However, Defendant's calculation is based on a
Retail Installment Contract showing a $61, 071.96 total sale
price for the vehicle, plus civil penalties.
however, fails to demonstrate that the amount-in-controversy
exceeds $50, 000 by a preponderance of the evidence. Although
Defendant sets forth a total price over the term of the
contract, this amount does not necessarily reflect the
amount-in-controversy. Plaintiff requests restitution for all
money paid to Defendant: yet Defendant fails to indicate an
amount of payments made. Additionally, the value that
Plaintiff is eligible to recover is reduced to account for
Plaintiffs use of the vehicle. See Moreno v. GM Co.,
No. 2:09-cv-00602 JWS, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 3672, at *8-9
(D. Ariz. Jan. 15, 2010) (applying the formula set forth in
Sckimmer v. Jaguar Cars, Inc., 384 F.3d 402 (7th
Cir. 2004)). Defendant also fails to indicate the number of
miles Plaintiff drove. Without this information, the Court is
left with considerable doubt as to the amount-in-controversy.
See Tokmakova v. Volkswagen Group of Am., Inc.,
12-cv-04666 SJO, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 109164, at *7 (CD.
Cal. Aug. 1, 2012).
also supports removal with Plaintiffs request for
attorneys' fees and also with the civil penalties
available under the Song-Beverly Act. However, attorneys'
fees are "costs and interests" within the
definition of the Act and are therefore excluded from the
calculation. Accord Moreno, 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS
3672, at *3 n.9 (D. Ariz. Jan. 15, 2010) (citing Ansari
v. Bella Automotive Group, Inc., 145 F.3d 1270, 1271-72
(11th Cir. 1998) (collecting authorities)). Moreover, while
civil penalties are available for willful failure to comply
with the Song-Beverly Act, Defendant has not offered any
evidence to support such an award.
the Court finds that Defendant has not satisfied its burden
of demonstrating by a preponderance of the evidence that the
amoimt-in-controversy meets the jurisdictional requirement in
the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
to 28 U.S.C. § 1332, a district court shall have
original jurisdiction over any civil action in which the
parties are citizens of different states and the action
involves an amount-in-controversy that exceeds $75, 000.
District courts within the Ninth Circuit are split with
respect to including prospective attorneys' fees hi the
amount-in-controversy, and some courts have declined to do
so. See, e.g., MIC Philberts Invs. v. Am. Cas. Co. of
Reading, 12-cv-0131 AWI, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 80651, at
*13-17 (E.D. Ca. June 8, 2012). In those cases, the courts
have found that attorneys' fees are in the control of the
client and counsel, ...