James Depuy et al v. Aircraft Spruce and Specialty Co. et al

Filing 32

ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND by Judge Manuel L. Real: IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand 17 is GRANTED. Case Remanded to Los Angeles Superior Court, Case No. BC673673. IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants' Motion to Dismiss 10 is MOOT. ( MD JS-6. Case Terminated. ) (gk)

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1 JS-6 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 10 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 11 12 13 JAMES DEPUY and CATHLEEN WRIGHT, individually and as Personal Representatives of the Estate of Cathryn Depuy, 14 15 16 17 Plaintiffs, v. AIRCRAFT SPRUCE & SPECIALTY CO., a California business entity; et al., 18 Defendants. 19 20 ) CASE NO. CV 17-7226-R ) ) ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ ) MOTION TO REMAND ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) ) Before the Court is Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, which was filed on October 6, 2017, 21 and Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand, which was filed on October 27, 2017. (Dkt. Nos. 10, 17). 22 Having been fully briefed by both parties, this Court took the matters under submission on 23 November 30, 2017. 24 Plaintiffs allege the following. In September 2015, Cathryn Depuy was killed in an 25 airplane crash when the engine lost power. The engine lost power because the carburetor 26 component of the aircraft’s fuel delivery system malfunctioned. Plaintiffs are the parents of 27 Cathryn Depuy and the duly appointed personal representatives of her estate. Defendants are 28 business entities that sold and distributed the carburetor component, which was installed on the 1 subject airplane as a replacement part. Plaintiffs sue for the wrongful death of Cathryn Depuy 2 under a theory of strict products liability. Plaintiffs claim the carburetor was defective in 3 manufacture and design and Defendants did not provide adequate warnings. Defendants move to 4 dismiss the Complaint for failure to state a claim. Plaintiffs move to remand the case. 5 6 7 As a preliminary matter, all arguments based on Local Rule 7-3 are inapposite because this Court waives Local Rule 7-3. (Dkt. No. 13). A defendant may remove a civil action from state court if the action could have originally 8 been filed in federal court. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). “The removal statute is strictly construed, and 9 any doubt about the right of removal requires resolution in favor of remand.” Moore-Thomas v. 10 Alaska Airlines, Inc., 553 F.3d 1241, 1244 (9th Cir. 2009). “[T]he defendant always has the 11 burden of establishing that removal is proper.” Id. Where a complaint does not raise a federal 12 claim on its face, federal question jurisdiction may exist when federal law completely preempts a 13 state law cause of action. Wayne v. DHL Worldwide Express, 294 F.3d 1179, 1183 (9th Cir. 14 2002). Where federal law does not completely preempt a state law cause of action, federal 15 preemption may only be raised as a defense. Moore-Thomas, 553 F.3d at 1244. Such “ordinary 16 preemption” does not provide a basis for removal. Id. 17 The Federal Aviation Act (“FAA”) does not create a federal cause of action for personal 18 injury suits. Martin v. Midwest Express Holdings, 555 F.3d 806, 808 (9th Cir. 2009); see also 19 Estate of Sesay v. Hawker Beechcraft Corp., No. CV-04637-JHN-CWx, 2011 WL 7501887, at *3 20 (C.D. Cal. Dec. 9, 2011) (discussing Martin in context of wrongful death suit). Accordingly, the 21 complete preemption doctrine cannot provide a basis for removal of such suits. Webb v. Desert 22 Bermuda Dev. Co., 518 Fed. App’x. 521, 522 (9th Cir. 2013). Here, the FAA does not create a 23 federal cause of action for the wrongful death of Cathryn Depuy. Therefore, the complete 24 preemption doctrine does not provide a basis for removal. 25 The Ninth Circuit decisions in Montalvo and Gilstrap do not change this analysis. 26 Montalvo and Gilstrap, together, teach that the FAA preserves state law tort claims and remedies. 27 See Gilstrap v. United Air Lines, Inc., 709 F.3d 995, 1004, 1006 (9th Cir. 2013) (explaining that 28 FAA regulations do not preempt elements of breach, causation, or damages in state law negligence 2 1 claim); Montalvo v. Spirit Airlines 508 F.3d 464, 469, 474 (9th Cir. 2007) (concluding that FAA 2 preempts only duty to warn in context of airline warnings to passengers in case based on diversity 3 jurisdiction). Here, the FAA does not displace Plaintiffs’ state law products liability claim. See 4 Cavner v. Cont’l Motors, Inc., No. C12-1092 RSL, 2012 WL 4467171, at *2 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 5 27, 2012) (rejecting argument that FAA preempts field of aircraft maintenance and inspection in 6 strict products liability context). The complete preemption doctrine does not provide a basis for 7 removal. Despite Defendants’ argument to the contrary, the Supreme Court’s Grable analysis does 8 9 not apply here. Grable is among a “special and small category” of cases that asks whether a 10 federal court may hear a state law claim that raises an “actually disputed” and “substantial” federal 11 issue without disturbing the balance of federal and state judicial responsibilities. Grable & Sons 12 Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng’g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314 (2005); Empire HealthChoice 13 Assur., Inc. v. McVeigh, 547 U.S. 677, 699-700 (2006). Grable involved “a nearly pure issue of 14 law.” Id. “Substantial federal questions historically have been ones involving a federal agency’s 15 interpretation of a federal statute.” Sesay, 2011 WL 7501887, at *4. This case does not depend on interpretation of the FAA. The fact that portions of the FAA 16 17 may conflict with state law does not mean any federal issue here is “substantial.” Further, 18 litigation of tort claims from an airplane crash is a largely factual inquiry. See Zahora v. Precision 19 Airmotive Corp., No. 06-CV-3520, 2007 WL 765024, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 9, 2007) (rejecting the 20 argument that Grable established federal jurisdiction in airplane crash). Grable does not apply. IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand is GRANTED. (Dkt. No. 21 22 17). IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss is MOOT. (Dkt. No. 23 24 10). 25 Dated: January 10, 2018. 26 27 28 ___________________________________ MANUEL L. REAL UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE 3

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