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Jason Cole v. Jaguar Land Rover North America

March 2, 2012

JASON COLE, PLAINTIFF,
v.
JAGUAR LAND ROVER NORTH AMERICA, LLC, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Bumb, United States District Judge:

OPINION

Plaintiff Jason Cole ("Plaintiff" or "Pl.") filed a complaint (the "Complaint" or "Compl.") in New Jersey Superior Court, Camden County, asserting claims under the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Warranty Act, Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act ("MMWA"), and the Uniform Commercial Code against Defendant Jaguar Land Rover North America, LLC ("Defendant" or "Def.").

Defendant removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, claiming that this court has original jurisdiction under the MMWA and supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims. Plaintiff moved for remand. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's motion is GRANTED.

I. Background A. Factual

On or about January 4, 2010, Plaintiff leased a new 2010 Jaguar XF from Cherry Hill Classic Cars in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Compl. ¶¶ 3, 4, 17.*fn1 The vehicle was manufactured and warranted by Defendant. Compl. ¶ 3. The lease payments totaled $30,425 to be paid out over the term of the lease. Compl. Ex. B.*fn2 As part of the agreement between Plaintiff and Defendant, Plaintiff alleges that Defendant issued "several warranties, guarantees, affirmations or undertakings with respect to the material or workmanship of the vehicle and/or remedial action in the event the vehicle fail[ed] to meet the promised specifications," including "an express 4 year/50,000 mile warranty." Compl. ¶¶ 6, 7, 8.

Plaintiff alleges that the vehicle has been rendered "substantially impaired, unable to be utilized for its intended purposes, and is worthless" due to ineffective attempts to repair the vehicle by Defendant through its authorized dealer. Compl. ¶ 9. Plaintiff alleges three documented warranty repair attempts by defendant: (1) an attempt to repair abnormal noise in the brakes, vehicle sluggishness, a defective glove box, and problems with the transmission on or before August 24, 2010 (Compl. ¶ 10); (2) an attempt to repair a "defective air conditioner" on or before September 29, 2010 (Compl. ¶ 11); and (3) a second attempt to fix the air conditioner, along with an attempt to fix the radio, on or before November 1, 2010 (Compl. ¶ 12). Despite the repair attempts, Plaintiff alleges that the vehicle "continues to exhibit defects and non-conformities, which substantially impair its use, value, and/or safety." Compl. ¶ 13.

B. Procedural

Plaintiff commenced this action against Defendant in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Camden County on June 23, 2011, asserting claims under the MMWA and under New Jersey state law. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), Defendant filed a notice of removal to the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey on July 20, 2011. Defendant asserts that removal is proper because Plaintiff's MMWA claim provides for original federal question jurisdiction when the amount in controversy is at least $50,000 and Plaintiff's claim exceeds that amount. Defendant further argues that this court has supplemental jurisdiction over Plaintiff's state law claims because they "arise from a common nucleus of operative facts." Def.'s Notice of Removal at 2.

Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to state court, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), on July 27, 2011. Plaintiff argues that his cause of action does not meet the requisite $50,000 amount in controversy under the MMWA necessary to trigger federal jurisdiction.

II. Standard of Review

A defendant may remove a civil action filed in state court to federal court if the federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), the federal court must remand an action "[i]f at any time before final judgment, it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.."

On a motion to remand, where jurisdictional facts are in dispute, "the party challenging federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proving necessary facts by a preponderance of the evidence." Zanger v. Bank of Am., N.A., No. 10-2480, 2010 WL 3910142, at *2 (D.N.J. Oct. 1, 2010). However, if jurisdictional facts are not in dispute, the analysis turns on whether Plaintiff has specifically averred in the complaint that the amount in controversy is less than the jurisdictional minimum. Id. Where the plaintiff has done so, "a defendant seeking removal must prove to a legal certainty that plaintiff can recover the jurisdictional amount." Frederico v. Home Depot, 507 F.3d 188, 196-97 (3d Cir. 2007). "A plaintiff is entitled to this deferential standard only if the complaint specifically (and not impliedly) and precisely (and not inferentially) state[s] that the amount sought shall not exceed the jurisdictional minimum." Zanger, 2010 WL 3910142, at *2 (quotation and citation omitted). In contrast, where a plaintiff has not specifically and precisely averred in the complaint that the amount in controversy is less than the jurisdictional minimum, the case may only be remanded if the Plaintiff demonstrates, to a legal certainty, that it cannot recover the jurisdictional amount. Frederico, 507 F.3d at 195, 197; Lawton v. Basic Research, L.L.C., No. 10-6341, 2011 WL 1321567, at *2 (D.N.J. April 4, 2011).

III. Analysis

This Court's analysis proceeds in three ...


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