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Aronson v. FCA US, LLC

United States District Court, C.D. California

December 30, 2019

Bruce A. Aronson, et al.
v.
FCA US, LLC, et al.

          PRESENT: HONORABLE JOHN F. WALTER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

          CIVIL MINUTES -- GENERAL

         PROCEEDINGS (IN CHAMBERS): ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND [filed 12/2/2019; Docket No. 24];

         ORDER GRANTING IN PART, DENYING IN PART DEFENDANTS FCA U.S. LLC'S AND SAN FERNANDO MOTOR COMPANY DBA RYDELL CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP RAM ERRONEOUSLY SUED AS RYDELL CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP RAM'S MOTION FOR JUDGMENT ON THE PLEADINGS [filed 12/6/2019; Docket No. 25]

         On December 2, 2019, Plaintiffs Bruce A. Aronson and Secure Tech (collectively, “Plaintiffs”) filed a Motion to Remand. On December 16, 2019, Defendants FCA U.S. LLC (“FCA”) and San Fernando Motor Company dba Rydell Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram (“Rydell”) (collectively, “Defendants”) filed their Opposition. On December 23, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Reply.

         On December 6, 2019, Defendants filed a Motion for Judgment on the Pleadings. On December 16, 2019, Plaintiffs filed their Opposition, and on December 17, 2019, filed a Notice of Errata with a corrected Opposition. On December 23, 2019, Defendants filed a Reply.

         Pursuant to Rule 78 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and Local Rule 7-15, the Court finds that these matters are appropriate for decision without oral argument. The hearing calendared for January 6, 2020 is hereby vacated and the matters taken off calendar. After considering the moving, opposing, and reply papers, and the arguments therein, the Court rules as follows:

         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

         On May 18, 2019, Plaintiffs purchased a 2015 Ram 2500 ProMaster Cargo Van (the “Subject Vehicle”) from Woody's Automotive Group in the State of Missouri. Complaint ¶ 8; Declaration of Amy Maclear, Exhibit A. According to the Complaint, “Plaintiff received an express written warranty in which Defendant FCA 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.” Complaint at ¶ 9. “The warranty provided, in relevant part, that in the event a defect developed with the Vehicle during the warranty period, Plaintiff could deliver the Vehicle for repair services to Defendant's FCA representative and the Vehicle would be repaired.” Complaint at ¶ 10. Plaintiffs allege that, during the warranty period, the Subject Vehicle contained or developed defects that substantially impaired the use, value, and safety of the Subject Vehicle. Id. FCA and its representatives in California, including its authorized dealership, Rydell, have allegedly been unable to repair the Subject Vehicle after a reasonable number of repair opportunities.

         On September 30, 2019, Plaintiffs filed a Complaint against Defendants in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging claims for violation of California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1790, et seq. (First Through Fifth Causes of Action), violation of the Federal Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301, et seq. (Sixth Cause of Action), and for Negligent Repair (“Seventh Cause of Action”). On October 31, 2019, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal, alleging that this Court has jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 and 1332(a).

         II. MOTION TO REMAND

         A. Legal Standard

         A motion to remand is the proper procedure for challenging removal. See N. Cal. Dist. Council of Laborers v. Pittsburg-Des Moines Steel Co., 69 F.3d 1034, 1038 (9th Cir. 1995). The removal statute is strictly construed, and any doubt about the right of removal is resolved in favor of remand. See Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992); see also Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix, Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th Cir. 1999). Consequently, if a plaintiff challenges the defendant's removal of a case, the defendant bears the burden of establishing the propriety of the removal. See Gaus, 980 F.2d at 566; see also Duncan v. Stuetzle, 76 F.3d 1480, 1485 (9th Cir. 1996) (citations and quotations omitted) ("Because of the Congressional purpose to restrict the jurisdiction of the federal courts on removal, the statute is strictly construed, and federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first instance.").

         B. Discussion

         “[T]he Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act creates a federal private cause of action for a warrantor's failure to comply with the terms of a written warranty.” Milicevic v. Fletcher Jones Imports, Ltd., 402 F.3d 912, 917 (9th Cir. 2005). A claim cannot be brought in federal court under MMWA, however, “if the amount in controversy is less than the sum or value of $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). “Where, as here, it is unclear or ambiguous from the face of a state-court complaint whether the requisite amount in controversy is pled, the removing defendant bears the burden of establishing, by a preponderance of the ...


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