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Yeager v. Ford Motor Co.

United States District Court, N.D. California

January 8, 2020

ROBERT YEAGER, Plaintiff,
v.
FORD MOTOR COMPANY; GOSCH FORD TEMECULA; and DOES 1 through 10, inclusive, Defendants.

          ORDER REMANDING ACTION TO STATE COURT

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         INTRODUCTION

         This is an automobile “Lemon Law” case brought under California law. Defendants removed. Plaintiff seeks remand. The crux is whether an in-state defendant was fraudulently joined. Finding recovery against the in-state defendant is possible, the motion to remand is Granted.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiff purchased a Ford F-250 pickup truck in May 2014 from defendant Gosch Ford Temecula. The truck came covered by a three-year/36, 000-mile express bumper-to-bumper warranty and a five-year/60, 000-mile powertrain warranty (First Amd. Compl. ¶ 8).

         During the warranty period, multiple defects developed. In June 2014, plaintiff brought the truck to Gosch over excessive wobble while driving. Gosch's technicians measured the truck's tires, noted their good condition, and sent plaintiff on his way (id. ¶ 14).

         He returned less than a month later with an illuminated check-engine light. Gosch technicians ran diagnostic tests, including a scan for fault codes that indicated an exhaust-gas-temperature sensor failure. Using the repair procedure outlined in a Ford technical service bulletin, a technician replaced the sensor. During the visit, plaintiff repeated his excessive wobble concerns (id. at ¶ 15).

         During a routine maintenance visit in October 2014, Gosch replaced “exhaust emission control” parts, according to records from the visit. No. further notes were made (id. ¶ 16).

         Five months later, plaintiff brought the truck in over excessive wobble for the third time. On this visit, Gosch technicians identified the wobble issue as a repeat concern, contacted Ford's technical hotline, and replaced the truck's tires (id. ¶ 17).

         A month later, still within a year of purchase, the engine cranked, but failed to start. Plaintiff towed his truck back to Gosch. The technicians ran diagnostic tests and determined that the complete fuel system needed replacement. The technicians also reprogrammed the power control module and programmed new fuel-injector related codes (id. ¶ 18). Gosch represented that the truck had been repaired when plaintiff picked it up.

         Plaintiff returned three more times. In April 2016, the primary radiator needed replacement following a coolant leak. In January 2018, the check-engine light illuminated, the camera ceased to work, and the coolant tanks needed flushing. In September 2018, the check-engine light came back on and Gosh technicians performed further repairs involving the exhaust system, as prescribed by a different technical service bulletin. Gosch continued to tell plaintiff the issues were repaired (id. ¶ 19, 20, 21).

         Later, however, plaintiff learned that a part installed in his truck, the Ford CP4 high-pressure fuel-injection pump, suffered a common defect that leads to various problems, such as deposits of metal shavings and debris in the fuel injection system, sudden engine failure, no start, and rough running (id. ¶¶ 49, 65). When he learned of defendants' wrongful conduct in February 2019, plaintiff requested that defendants repurchase or replace the vehicle. Defendants refused (id. ¶ 65).

         On September 12, 2019, plaintiff filed this action in state court claiming various violations of California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act. Against Gosch, plaintiff alleged only a breach of the implied warranty of merchantability under the Song-Beverly Act. All defendants removed. Plaintiff filed the first amended complaint on November 18.

         Plaintiff now moves for remand. This order follows full briefing, extended oral argument, and supplemental briefing ...


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