Jose David Ramires v. Ford Motor Company

Filing 23

ORDER DENYING Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 20) by Judge Virginia A. Phillips: For the reasons stated above, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs Motion to Remand this action to the Los Angeles Superior Court. IT IS SO ORDERED. (See document for further details) (yl)

Download PDF
1 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 2 3 4 5 Jose David Ramires, 6 7 v. 8 Order DENYING Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 20) Ford Motor Company, 9 United States District Court Central District of California Case No. 2:21-cv-06362-VAP-(PVCx) Plaintiff, Defendant. 10 11 12 13 Plaintiff Jose David Ramires (“Plaintiff”) filed a Motion to Remand 14 (“Motion”) on November 1, 2021. (Doc. No. 20.) Defendant Ford Motor 15 Company (“Defendant”) filed its Opposition on November 8, 2021 (Doc. No. 16 21), and Plaintiff filed his Reply on November 15, 2021 (Doc. No. 22.). The 17 Court finds this matter appropriate for resolution without oral argument 18 pursuant to Local Rule 7-15. After considering all papers filed in support of, 19 and in opposition to, the Motion, the Court DENIES Plaintiff’s Motion to 20 Remand. 21 22 I. BACKGROUND 23 Plaintiff filed this action in the Los Angeles Superior Court on March 24 29, 2021, asserting two claims under California’s Song-Beverly Consumer 25 Warranty Act (“Song Beverly Act” or “Act”) relating to their purchase of a 26 2018 Ford F-150 (the “Vehicle”). (See Doc. No. 1-2, “Complaint”). 1 1 Defendant removed the action to this Court on August 6, 2021 based on 2 diversity jurisdiction. (Doc. No. 1, “Notice of Removal”). Defendant 3 contends that complete diversity of citizenship exists between Plaintiffs and 4 Defendant and that the amount in controversy as to Plaintiff’s individual 5 claims exceeds $75,000. (Id. ¶¶ 5-17). Plaintiff then filed this Motion 6 challenging Defendant’s assertions as to the amount in controversy. (See 7 Doc. No. 20.) 8 United States District Court Central District of California 9 10 II. LEGAL STANDARD Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a civil action may be removed from state 11 to federal court if the action is one over which the federal courts could 12 exercise their original jurisdiction. A district court has diversity jurisdiction 13 over any civil action between citizens of different states if the amount in 14 controversy exceeds $75,000, excluding interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 15 1332. “[T]he amount in controversy includes damages (compensatory, 16 punitive, or otherwise), the costs of complying with an injunction, and 17 attorneys’ fees awarded under fee-shifting statutes or contract.” Fritsch v. 18 Swift Transp. Co. of Ariz., LLC, 899 F.3d 785, 793 (9th Cir. 2018). 19 20 “The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking 21 removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal 22 jurisdiction.” Prize Frize, Inc. v. Matrix (U.S.) Inc., 167 F.3d 1261, 1265 (9th 23 Cir. 1999), superseded by statute on other grounds as stated in Abrego 24 Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 681 (9th Cir. 2006). There is 25 a strong presumption against removal jurisdiction, and federal jurisdiction 26 “must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal in the first 2 1 instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (citation 2 omitted). A defendant “always has the burden of establishing that removal 3 is proper.” Id. “If at any time before final judgment it appears that the 4 district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.” 5 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). 6 III. 7 8 United States District Court Central District of California 9 DISCUSSION A. Amount in Controversy Plaintiff argues only that the amount in controversy does not meet the 10 necessary threshold of $75,000, making diversity jurisdiction improper. 11 (Doc. No. 20-1 at 5-8). 12 13 Plaintiff’s argument is unavailing. A defendant who removes an action 14 to federal court bears the burden of proving by a preponderance of the 15 evidence that the amount in controversy meets the jurisdictional threshold. 16 See Valdez v. Allstate Ins. Co., 372 F.3d 1115, 1117 (9th Cir. 2004); 17 Matheson v. Progressive Specialty Ins. Co., 319 F.3d 1089, 1090 (9th Cir. 18 2003) (per curiam) (“Where it is not facially evident from the complaint that 19 more than $75,000 is in controversy, the removing party must prove, by a 20 preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy meets the 21 jurisdictional threshold. Where doubt regarding the right to removal exists, a 22 case should be remanded to state court”) (footnotes omitted). 23 24 Here, although Plaintiff’s Complaint does not allege the amount in 25 controversy, Defendant met its burden of showing that the jurisdictional 26 minimum is satisfied. 3 1 2 1. Actual Damages 3 Actual damages under the Song-Beverly Act are the “amount equal to the actual price paid or payable by the buyer,” less the reduction in value 5 “directly attributable to use by the buyer.” Cal. Civ. Code § 1793.2(d)(2)(B)- 6 (C). The reduction is based on the number of miles the buyer has driven 7 prior to the first attempted repair (often called the “use offset”). Id. To 8 determine the amount directly attributable to the buyer’s use of the vehicle, 9 United States District Court Central District of California 4 the manufacturer multiplies the price of the vehicle the buyer paid or will pay 10 by a fraction, the denominator of which is 120,000, and the numerator the 11 number of miles the buyer drove the car before the first relevant repair. Id. 12 This calculation provides the actual damages that Plaintiffs suffered. 13 14 The purchase agreement for the Vehicle here minus its optional items 15 results in a total purchase price of $44,025.22.1 (See Doc. No. 21-1.) The 16 Court adopts Defendant’s reduction in value of $4,071.97. (Doc. No. 21-1 at 17 11) (“(11,099 / 120,000) * 44,025.22 [purchase price after deduction of 18 optional items])”). Accordingly, the Court estimates the amount of restitution 19 available under the Song-Beverly Act to be $44,025.22 minus the mileage 20 offset of $4,071.97, or $39,953.25. 21 22 23 24 25 26 1 Although Defendant argues that the Court should consider the contract’s entire value, without discounting the optional items, (Doc. No. 21-1 at 6), the Court need not address the merits of this argument because, for the reasons set forth below, the amount in controversy is satisfied even without the amount from the optional items. 4 1 2. Civil Penalty 2 If a court determines that a defendant’s failure to comply with the 3 terms of the Act is willful, a successful plaintiff is entitled to recover civil 4 penalties of up to twice the amount of the actual damages. Cal. Civ. Code 5 §§ 1794 (c). 6 7 Here, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant’s failure to comply with its obligations under the Song-Beverly Act was “willful” and he is entitled to “a 9 United States District Court Central District of California 8 civil penalty of up to two times the amount of actual damages.” (Doc. No. 1- 10 2, ¶ 25); see also Park v. Jaguar Land Rover N. Am., LLC, No. 20-00242, 11 2020 WL 3567275, at *4 (S.D. Cal. July 1, 2020) (“Plaintiff’s own allegations 12 support the conclusion that the maximum amount of civil penalties is 13 properly included in the amount in controversy determination”). As the 14 amount of actual damages available as restitution is $39,953.25, the 15 maximum available civil penalty is twice that amount, or $79,906.50. 16 Accordingly, the sum of the restitution and civil penalty amounts in 17 controversy is $119,859.75. 18 19 The Court therefore finds that the $75,000 jurisdictional requirement 20 is satisfied, even without considering attorneys’ fees. 21 // 22 // 23 // 24 25 26 5 IV. 1 2 3 CONCLUSION For the reasons stated above, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand this action to the Los Angeles Superior Court. 4 5 IT IS SO ORDERED. 6 7 Dated: 11/24/21 Virginia A. Phillips United States District Judge 8 United States District Court Central District of California 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 6

Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.

Why Is My Information Online?