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Perez v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, C.D. California

November 13, 2019

Hermila Perez
v.
Ford Motor Company et al

          Present: The Honorable STEPHEN V. WILSON, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.

          CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

         Proceedings: ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [15]

         I. Introduction and Background

         On July 2, 2019, Plaintiff Hermila Perez (“Plaintiff”) filed this lawsuit against Defendants Ford Motor Company (“Ford Motor”) and Fremont Ford (“Fremont Ford”). Dkt. 1-2. Plaintiff asserts claims against Ford Motor for: (1) violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(d); (2) violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(b); (3) violation of Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(a)(3); (4) breach of an express written warranty; and (5) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability. Id.

         On August 7, 2019, Defendants removed the action to this Court. Dkt. 1. The alleged basis for removal was diversity of citizenship. Id. Plaintiff now moves to remand the action to state court on the ground that Defendants have not met their burden to establish diversity jurisdiction. Dkt. 15.

         II. Summary of Allegations

         A. Allegations of the Complaint

         The crux of Plaintiff's allegations is that in August 2013, Plaintiff purchased a 2013 Ford F-150 manufactured by Ford Motor which developed a variety of defects during the warranty period, including defective airbags and problems with the engine, battery, coolant gauge, and transmission. Dkt. 1-2 ¶¶ 8-9. Plaintiff alleges that Ford Motor was unable to service or repair the vehicle to conform to the applicable express warranties after a reasonable number of opportunities. Id. ¶ 10.

         B. Allegations Related to Removal

         Defendants allege removal jurisdiction based on complete diversity of the parties. Ford Motor is a citizen of Delaware and Michigan. Dkt. 1 ¶ 22. Ford Motor removed the action alleging that Plaintiff is a citizen of California. Id. ¶ 21. Fremont Ford is also alleged to be a citizen of California. Id. ¶ 23. However, Ford Motor alleges that Fremont Ford has been fraudulently joined only to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Id. ¶ 24.

         III. Legal Standard

         United 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)).

         IV. Analysis

         Ford Motor contends in its Notice of Removal and Opposition that because Fremont Ford was fraudulently joined, none of the causes of action asserted in this lawsuit state a claim against Fremont Ford. Dkt. 1 ¶ 25-30. Therefore Ford Motor asserts that diversity jurisdiction exists under 28 U.S.C. § 1332 when Fremont Ford's ...


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