Prudenciano Flores v. Nissan North America, Inc.

Filing 20

ORDER re: Motion to Remand 14 by Judge Ronald S.W. Lew. The Court GRANTS Plaintiff's Motion. This Action is hereby REMANDED to the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. [MD JS-6. Case Terminated.] (et)

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'O' JS-6 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 CENTRAL DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 11 14 15 16 17 ORDER re: Motion to Remand [14] Plaintiff, 12 13 CV 21-09411-RSWL-PD x PRUDENCIANO FLORES, v. NISSAN NORTH AMERICA, INC.; DOWNEY IMPORT CARS, INC.; and DOES 1-10, Defendants. 18 19 Plaintiff Prudenciano Flores (“Plaintiff”) brings 20 this Action against Defendant Nissan North America, Inc. 21 (“Nissan”) for violation of the Song-Beverly Consumer 22 Warranty Act and against Defendant Downey Import Cars, 23 Inc. (“Downey”) for negligent repair. 24 the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand to Los Angeles 25 County Superior Court (“Motion”) [14]. 26 all papers submitted pertaining to this Motion, the 27 Court NOW FINDS AND RULES AS FOLLOWS: the Court GRANTS 28 Plaintiff’s Motion. 1 Currently before Having reviewed I. 1 2 3 A. BACKGROUND Factual Background Plaintiff is a resident of Los Angeles, California. 4 First Am. Compl. (“FAC”) ¶ 2, ECF No. 11. 5 corporation authorized to conduct business in 6 California. 7 under the laws of California and authorized to conduct 8 business in California. 9 Id. ¶ 3. Nissan is a Downey is a corporation organized Id. ¶ 4. On May 24, 2020, Plaintiff purchased a 2020 Nissan 10 Sentra (“Vehicle”), which was manufactured and 11 distributed by Nissan. 12 express written warranty in which Nissan undertook to 13 preserve or maintain the utility and performance of the 14 Vehicle and to provide compensation if there was a 15 failure in the Vehicle’s utility or performance for a 16 specified period of time. 17 provided that in the event a defect developed with the 18 Vehicle during the warranty period, Plaintiff could 19 deliver the Vehicle for repair services to a repair shop 20 and the Vehicle would be repaired. 21 Id. ¶ 6. Plaintiff received an Id. ¶ 10. The warranty Id. During the warranty period, the Vehicle contained 22 or developed defects that substantially impaired the 23 use, safety, and value of the Vehicle. 24 Plaintiff provided Nissan with sufficient opportunity to 25 repair the Vehicle, but Nissan failed to repair the 26 Vehicle within a reasonable number of attempts. 27 ¶¶ 14-15. 28 Downey for repair on numerous occasions, but Downey Id. ¶ 11. Id. Plaintiff also delivered the Vehicle to 2 1 breached its duty to properly store and repair the 2 Vehicle in accordance with industry standards. 3 ¶¶ 43-45. 4 Downey’s negligence in failing to repair the Vehicle, 5 Plaintiff was financially damaged. 6 B. Id. Because of Nissan’s breach of warranty and Id. ¶¶ 18, 47. Procedural Background On October 29, 2021, Plaintiff filed her Complaint 7 8 [1-2] against Nissan in the Superior Court of 9 California, County of Los Angeles. On December 3, 2021, 10 Nissan removed [1] the case to this Court. Nissan 11 stated that this Court had diversity jurisdiction over 12 the case because Plaintiff is domiciled in California, 13 while Defendant is a Delaware corporation with a 14 principal place of business in Tennessee. 15 Removal ¶¶ 13-14, ECF No. 1. See Notice of 16 Plaintiff filed a First Amended Complaint (“FAC”) 17 [11] on December 22, 2021, which added a new cause of 18 action for negligent repair against Downey. 19 then filed the instant Motion to Remand [14] on January 20 24, 2022, arguing that the case must be remanded because 21 the addition of Downey destroys diversity. 22 has not opposed the Motion. II. 23 24 25 A. Plaintiff Defendant DISCUSSION Legal Standard Civil actions may be removed from state court if 26 the federal court has original jurisdiction. See 27 Syngenta Crop Prot., Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 33 28 (2002). Diversity jurisdiction exists in all civil 3 1 actions between citizens of different states where the 2 amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of 3 interest and costs. 4 complete diversity of citizenship, meaning “each of the 5 plaintiffs must be a citizen of a different state than 6 each of the defendants.” 7 Inc., 236 F.3d 1061, 1067 (9th Cir. 2001) (citing 8 Caterpillar Inc. v. Lewis, 519 U.S. 61, 68 (1996)). 28 U.S.C. § 1332. There must be Morris v. Princess Cruises, “The burden of establishing jurisdiction falls on 9 10 the party invoking the removal statute, which is 11 strictly construed against removal.” 12 Affiliated Sec., Inc., 813 F.2d 1368, 1371 (9th Cir. 13 1987) (internal citations omitted). 14 ambiguities “in favor of remand to state court.” 15 v. Philip Morris USA, 582 F.3d 1039, 1042 (9th Cir. 16 2009) (citing Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 17 (9th Cir. 1992)). 18 at any time before final judgment it appears that the 19 district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” 20 U.S.C. § 1447(c). 21 B. 22 Sullivan v. First Courts resolve all Hunter A removed case must be remanded “[i]f 28 Discussion The Court begins by noting that Defendants failed 23 to oppose this Motion and offer no excuse for their 24 failure to oppose. 25 this reason. 26 file any required document, or the failure to file it 27 within the deadline, may be deemed consent to the 28 granting or denial of the motion.”); Flores v. FCA US The Motion is therefore GRANTED for See C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-12 (“The failure to 4 1 LLC, No. 2:20-cv-6278-ODW (KSx), 2020 WL 5549140 (C.D. 2 Cal. Sept. 15, 2020). 3 remand is warranted on the merits as well. 4 Nonetheless, the Court finds that In its Notice of Removal, Defendant asserts that 5 this Court has diversity jurisdiction over this Action 6 because Plaintiff is a citizen of California and 7 Defendant is a citizen of both Delaware and Tennessee. 8 See Notice of Removal ¶¶ 13-14. 9 remand is necessary because the addition of Downey to Plaintiff argues that 10 this Action destroys diversity. Pl.’s Mem. P. & A. in 11 Supp. of Mot. to Remand 1:14-18, ECF No. 14-1. 12 Court agrees that the addition of Downey would destroy 13 this Court’s diversity jurisdiction. 14 appear to be diverse from Plaintiff because both are 15 alleged to be California citizens, and neither Defendant 16 has stated otherwise. 17 Sullivan, 813 F.2d at 1371 (stating that the burden is 18 on the removing defendant to establish that subject 19 matter jurisdiction is proper). 20 must analyze whether Downey was properly joined to this 21 Action to determine whether the case must be remanded 22 for lack of jurisdiction. The Downey does not See FAC ¶¶ 2, 4; see also Therefore, the Court 23 1. Joinder 24 Where a case has been removed from state court and 25 the plaintiff attempts to amend its complaint to join 26 nondiverse defendants that would destroy the federal 27 court’s subject matter jurisdiction, the amendment must 28 be scrutinized under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e). 5 Clinco v. 1 Roberts, 41 F. Supp. 2d 1080, 1088 (C.D. Cal. 1999). 2 Section 1447(e) affords courts discretion to either deny 3 joinder of the nondiverse defendant or to permit joinder 4 and remand the action to state court. 5 § 1447(e). 18 U.S.C. 6 In deciding whether to permit joinder, “a court 7 should consider: (1) whether the party sought to be 8 joined is needed for just adjudication and would be 9 joined under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19(a); (2) 10 whether the statute of limitations would prevent the 11 filing of a new action against the new defendant should 12 the court deny joinder; (3) whether there has been 13 unexplained delay in seeking the joinder; (4) whether 14 the joinder is solely for the purpose of defeating 15 federal jurisdiction; and (5) whether the claim against 16 the new party seems valid.” 17 1082. 18 19 Clinco, 41 F. Supp. at The Court will address each factor in turn. a. Rule 19 “Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 19 requires 20 joinder of persons whose absence would preclude the 21 grant of complete relief, or whose absence would impede 22 their ability to protect their interests or would 23 subject any of the parties to the danger of inconsistent 24 obligations.” Clinco, 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1082; Fed. R. 25 Civ. P. 19(a). Courts consider whether a non-diverse 26 defendant is a necessary party under Rule 19 when 27 determining whether to allow a diversity-destroying 28 amendment, but amendment under § 1447(e) is less 6 1 restrictive than joinder under Rule 19. IBC Aviation 2 Servs., Inc. v. Compiana Mexicana de Aviacion, S.A. de 3 C.V., 125 F. Supp. 2d 1008, 1011-12 (N.D. Cal. 2000). 4 Under § 1447(e), joinder is proper when “failure to join 5 will lead to separate and redundant actions.” 6 1012. 7 § 1447(e)] is appropriate for the just adjudication of 8 the controversy if there is a high degree of involvement 9 by the defendant in the occurrences that gave rise to Id. at Moreover, “a court may find that joinder [under 10 the plaintiff’s cause of action.” 11 Am., LLC, No. CV 18-4897JFW(RAOx), 2018 WL 6177230, at 12 *2 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 19, 2018) (quoting McGrath v. Home 13 Depot USA, Inc., 298 F.R.D. 601, 608 (S.D. Cal. 2014)). 14 Yenokian v. BMW of N. Here, Plaintiff’s claims against Nissan and Downey 15 involve the same Vehicle, the same alleged defects in 16 the Vehicle, and the same attempted repairs. 17 ¶¶ 10-18, 43-47. 18 Plaintiff could deliver the Vehicle to a repair shop to 19 be repaired, and Downey is the repair shop Plaintiff 20 sought services from. 21 a high degree of involvement in the occurrences giving 22 rise to Plaintiff’s breach of warranty claims against 23 Nissan. 24 SJO (MRWx), 2017 WL 10433673, at *2 (C.D. Cal. Aug. 9, 25 2017) (finding repair facility necessary for just 26 adjudication of claims against defendant because it was 27 “a direct participant in the events and transactions 28 giving rise to the case”); Forward-Rossi v. Jaguar Land See FAC Nissan’s warranty ensured that Id. ¶¶ 10, 43. Thus, Downey had See Harris v. Ford Motor Co., No. CV 17-04964 7 1 Rover N. Am., LLC, No. 2:16-cv-00949-CAS(KSx), 2016 WL 2 3396925, at *3 (C.D. Cal. June 13, 2016) (same). 3 Moreover, resolution of Plaintiff’s claims against 4 Nissan and Downey will likely require review of many of 5 the same documents and witnesses. 6 6177230, at *2. 7 lead to separate and redundant actions, and this factor 8 therefore weighs in favor of joinder. b. 9 See Yenokian, 2018 WL Denying joinder of Downey here would Statute of Limitations 10 If a plaintiff could file an action against the 11 joined defendant in state court, then there is less 12 reason to permit joinder under § 1447(e). 13 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1083. 14 statute of limitations for a negligent repair claim is 15 three years. 16 v. Ford Motor Co., 362 F. Supp. 3d 837, 841 (C.D. Cal. 17 2019). 18 attempted repairs took place, but the statute of 19 limitations could not have run because Plaintiff 20 purchased the Vehicle on May 24, 2020. 21 Because Plaintiff would not be time-barred from filing a 22 new action against Downey in state court, this factor 23 weighs against joinder. 24 25 See Clinco, Under California law, the Cal. Civ. Proc. Code § 338(c)(1); Sabicer Plaintiff does not specify the date on which the c. See FAC ¶ 6. Unexplained Delay “When determining whether to allow amendment to add 26 a nondiverse party, courts consider whether the 27 amendment was attempted in a timely fashion.” 28 41 F. Supp. 2d at 1083. Clinco, “District courts generally 8 1 measure delay from the date of removal to determine 2 whether an unreasonable delay has occurred.” 3 2018 WL 6177230, at *3. 4 to include a claim against Downey less than three weeks 5 after the case was removed to federal court. 6 Plaintiff’s amendment was therefore timely. 7 2017 WL 10433673, at *2 (finding amendment timely 8 because it was sought less than three weeks after 9 removal); Yenokian, 2018 WL 6177230, at *3 (finding Yenokian, Here, Plaintiff filed the FAC See Harris, 10 amendment timely when sought almost three months after 11 removal). 12 joinder. d. 13 14 This factor therefore favors permitting Motive for Joinder A court must look with particular care at a 15 plaintiff’s motive for joining a nondiverse defendant to 16 a removed case “when the presence of a new defendant 17 will defeat the court’s diversity jurisdiction and will 18 require a remand to state court.” 19 at 1083. 20 intended to defeat jurisdiction is intertwined with an 21 assessment of the strength of the claims against the 22 proposed new defendant. 23 Clinco, 41 F. Supp. The question of whether joinder is solely McGrath, 298 F.R.D. at 608. While it is possible that Plaintiff is motivated to 24 defeat jurisdiction and have the case remanded, it is 25 unlikely that this is Plaintiff’s sole motivation. 26 explained below, the Court finds that Plaintiff’s 27 negligent repair claim against Downey is at least 28 facially valid. Moreover, the FAC is substantively 9 As 1 different from Plaintiff’s original complaint because 2 the negligent repair claim is distinct from Plaintiff’s 3 claims against Nissan. 4 1083 n.2 (finding improper motive where the original and 5 first amended complaints were “substantially similar”), 6 with Forward-Rossi, 2016 WL 3396925, at *4 (declining to 7 impute an improper motive to plaintiff where she sought 8 “to add two additional claims that, while relying on 9 many of the same facts, [were] conceptually distinct 10 from her two existing claims under the Song-Beverly 11 Act”). 12 Plaintiff’s sole motivation in alleging a claim against 13 Downey is to defeat diversity jurisdiction, particularly 14 where Plaintiff is simply exercising the right to amend 15 the complaint “once as a matter of course.” 16 v. FCA US, LLC, No. 2:16-cv-06639-CAS(RAOx), 2016 WL 17 6581154, at *6 (C.D. Cal. Nov. 7, 2016); Fed. R. Civ. P. 18 15(a)(1). 19 slightly in favor of permitting joinder. 20 Compare Clinco, 41 F. Supp. at Accordingly, the Court cannot say that e. See Sabag Therefore, the Court finds this factor weighs Validity of Claim against Downey 21 “The existence of a facially legitimate claim 22 against the putative defendant weighs in favor of 23 permitting joinder under § 1447(e).” 24 2016 WL 3396925, at *4 (internal quotation marks and 25 citation omitted). 26 “seems valid,” which is a lower standard than what is 27 required to survive a motion to dismiss or motion for 28 summary judgment. Forward-Rossi, A claim is facially legitimate if it Sabag, 2016 WL 6581154, at *6. 10 Plaintiff alleges that the Vehicle was delivered to 1 2 Downey on numerous occasions and that Downey breached 3 its duty to use ordinary skill and care in the storage, 4 preparation, diagnosis, and repair of the Vehicle in 5 accordance with industry standards. 6 These allegations establish, at minimum, a facially 7 legitimate claim for negligent repair. 8 Forest Indus., Inc. v. Westinghouse Elec. Corp., 422 9 F.2d 1013, 1018 (9th Cir. 1970) (noting that, generally, 10 “[o]ne who undertakes repairs has a duty arising in tort 11 to do them without negligence”); see also Yenokian, 2018 12 WL 6177230, at *4; Forward-Rossi, 2016 WL 3396925, at 13 *4. FAC ¶¶ 43-45. See Southwest 14 2. Remand 15 On balance, the Clinco factors weigh in favor of 16 permitting joinder under § 1447(e). 17 addition of Downey destroys complete diversity between 18 the parties, this Court no longer has subject matter 19 jurisdiction over this Action. 20 GRANTS Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand. 21 § 1447(c) (“If at any time before final judgment it 22 appears that the district court lacks subject matter 23 jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”). 24 /// 25 /// 26 /// 27 /// 28 /// 11 Because the The Court therefore See 28 U.S.C. 1 2 III. CONCLUSION Based on the foregoing, the Court GRANTS 3 Plaintiff’s Motion. 4 the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles. 5 6 7 This Action is hereby REMANDED to IT IS SO ORDERED. DATED: May 9, 2022 /s/ Ronald S.W. Lew __________________________ HONORABLE RONALD S.W. LEW Senior U.S. District Judge 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 12

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