Ford Motor Company v. RA Lake, Inc. et al

Filing 14

ORDER Granting #12 Motion to Remand to San Diego County Superior Court. Signed by Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel on 10/15/2013. Certified copy sent to San Diego Superior Court, East County Division. (All non-registered users served via U.S. Mail Service)(srm)(av1).

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1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT 9 SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF CALIFORNIA 10 Ford Motor Credit Company, et al. 11 12 13 14 vs. CASE NO. 12cv1431-GPC-JMA Plaintiffs, ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND [DKT. NO. 12] RA Lake, Inc., et al., Defendants. 15 16 This case becomes before the Court on Plaintiffs’ motion to remand. (Dkt. No. 17 12.) For the reasons set out below, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion to remand. 18 The Court therefore REMANDS this action to San Diego County Superior Court. 19 20 BACKGROUND On May 24, 2012 Ford Credit filed this breach of contract case in the 21 Superior Court of San Diego (Dkt. 1, Ex. A, “Complaint.”) Ford Credit is a 22 corporation authorized and licensed to conduct business in the State of California. 23 (Complaint at ¶ 1.) Ford Credit alleges that RA Lake, Inc. is a California 24 corporation and Defendants Steven Lucore, Judy Lucore, Rick Hinrichsen and 25 George Valverde are individuals residing in the state of California. (Complaint at ¶¶ 26 2-4.) Ford Credit alleges that defendants entered into a contract for a vehicle owned 27 by plaintiffs, and defendants have failed to make installment payments on the 28 vehicle. (Complaint at ¶¶ 12-15.) Ford Credit alleges defendants default under the -1- 12cv1431-GPC-JMA 1 terms and conditions of the agreement constitute a breach of contract. (Complaint at 2 ¶¶ 16-17.) Defendants have allegedly refused to surrender possession of the vehicle 3 in question, and Ford Credit seeks payment on the remaining unpaid balance of 4 $62,179.63 on the contract. (Complaint at ¶¶ 22-23.) Ford Credit alleges the 5 following state law causes of action: possession of personal property and breach of 6 contract; goods sold and delivered; book account; and account stated. (Complaint 7 at 4-11.) Ford Credit seeks to quiet title and injunctive relief. (Complaint at 11-13.) 8 On June 13, 2012, Defendants Steven Lucore and Judy Lucore removed the 9 action to this court based on diversity jurisdiction. (Dkt. No. 1.) 10 On February 12, 2013, this Court set a hearing for dismissal for want of 11 prosecution pursuant to Local Civil Rule 41.1. (Dkt. No. 5.) 12 On March 11, 2013, Plaintiffs filed a notification of bankruptcy and effect of 13 automatic stay. (Dkt. No. 10.) The court thereby vacated the dismissal hearing and 14 issued a stay. (Dkt. No. 11.) 15 On June 4, 2013, Ford Credit filed a notice of termination of automatic 16 bankruptcy stay. (Dkt. No. 13.) Ford Credit also filed a motion to remand the case 17 to the Superior Court of San Diego. (Dkt. No. 12.) Defendants have failed to file an 18 opposition. 19 DISCUSSION 20 Ford Credit seeks to remand this case to state court based on Defendants 21 improper removal. (Dkt. No. 12.) 22 A federal court has jurisdiction over an action involving citizens of different 23 states when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The 24 notice of removal must be filed “within thirty days after receipt by the defendant, 25 through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 26 1446(b). The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking 27 removal, and the removal statute is strictly construed against removal jurisdiction.” 28 Nishimoto v. Federman-Bachrach & Assoc., 903 F.2d 709, 712 n.3 (9th Cir. 1990). -2- 12cv1431-GPC-JMA 1 “Federal jurisdiction must be rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal 2 in the first instance.” Gaus v. Miles, Inc., 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992). 3 Whether federal jurisdiction exists is governed by the well-pleaded complaint rule. 4 Caterpillar, Inc. v.Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, (1987). The well-pleaded complaint 5 rule is a “powerful doctrine [that] severely limits the number of cases in which state 6 law ‘creates the cause of action’ that may be initiated in or removed to federal 7 district court . . . .” Franchise Tax Board of Cal. v. Construction Laborers 8 Vacation Trust for Southern Cal., 463 U.S. 1, 9-10 (1983). 9 Here, Defendants Steve Lucore, Sr. and Judy Lucore removed the action 10 based on diversity jurisdiction and assert the amount in controversy exceeds 11 $75,000. (Dkt. No. 1 at 2.) To support diversity of citizenship, Defendants state that 12 Ford Credit is a corporation organized under the laws of Delaware, with its 13 principal place of business in Michigan, and all Defendants are citizens or 14 businesses in the state of California. (Dkt. No. 1 at 3.) Although Plaintiffs’ 15 complaint does not include the state of organization, Plaintiffs state Ford Credit is a 16 corporation authorized and licensed to conduct business in the state of California. 17 (Complaint at 1.) 18 Plaintiffs argue that Defendants have improperly removed this action because 19 they are citizens of the state of California. The Court agrees. Under 28 U.S.C.A. § 20 1441, “A civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction 21 under section 1332(a) of this title[“Diversity of Citizenship”] may not be removed if 22 any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of 23 the State in which such action is brought.” 28 U.S.C.A. § 1441 (a)(2) (West). 24 Defendants are admittedly citizens of the state of California. (Dkt. No. 1 at 2.) 25 Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. 1441 (a)(2), Defendants may not seek removal of this action 26 based on diversity of citizenship. 27 Moreover, diversity of citizenship cannot serve as a sufficient jurisdictional 28 base where it appears from the face of the complaint that complete diversity of -3- 12cv1431-GPC-JMA 1 citizenship does not exist. See Kizer v. Fin. Am. Credit Corp., 454 F. Supp. 937, 2 938 (N.D. Miss. 1978). From the face of Plaintiffs’ complaint, all parties are 3 businesses or citizens in the state of California. (Complaint at 1-2.) Defendants do 4 not offer any information or evidence to the contrary. As such, Defendants have not 5 met their burden to establish that federal jurisdiction is proper. See Nishimoto, 903 6 F.2d at 712. Accordingly, the Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion to remand. 7 8 CONCLUSION The Court hereby GRANTS Plaintiffs’ motion and hereby REMANDS this 9 action to San Diego County Superior Court. 10 IT IS SO ORDERED. 11 12 DATED: October 15, 2013 13 14 HON. GONZALO P. CURIEL United States District Judge 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 -4- 12cv1431-GPC-JMA

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