United States District Court, D. Delaware
Karl Hill, SEITZ VAN OGTROP & GREEN, P.A., Wilmington,
Delaware; Joseph A. Kaufman, Joshua M. Ullman, LEMON LAW AID,
INC., Pasadena, California Counsel for Plaintiff
S. Price, Jr., POTTER ANDERSON & CORROON LLP, Wilmington,
Delaware; Jon D. Universal, UNIVERSAL & SHANNON, LLP,
Roseville, California Counsel for Defendant
CONNOLLY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
before me is the Motion to Remand and for Fees and Costs for
Improper Removal filed by Plaintiff Rosa May. D.I. 21. By her
motion, May seeks both the remand of this case to the
Superior Court of California and an award of costs and
attorney fees from Defendant First Motor Group of Encino LLC
("First Motor") under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
First Motor opposed remand of the case and an award of costs
and attorney fees in the first instance, D.I. 25, but it has
now withdrawn its opposition to remanding the case. D.I. 30.
Thus, the only disputed question before me is whether May is
entitled to recover costs and attorney fees under §
1447(c). Because I find that First Motor did not lack an
objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal, I will deny
May's request for costs and attorney fees.
March 27, 2012, May purchased a used Mercedes-Benz car from
First Motor in Encino, California. The car was equipped with
airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation, a Japanese
September 2016, May filed a law suit in the Superior Court of
California against Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC
("MBUSA"), the warrantor and distributor of the car
she purchased from First Motor (the "MBUSA
Action"). May alleged in her complaint in the MBUSA
Action that her car "suffered from
nonconformities]" that included a defective airbag in
violation of California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty
Act. D.I. 22-1, Ex. A ¶¶ 5, 10.
2017, May sought leave to amend her complaint in the MBUSA
Action by adding First Motor as a co-defendant. May argued in
papers filed in support of her request for leave to amend
the [proposed] claims against [MBUSA] and First Motor [ ]
involve the [same] breach of the express and implied
warranties of the same vehicle, there is no purpose to be
served by forcing plaintiff to file a new separate action
against defendants based on the same breach and damages.
D.I. 25-1, Ex. B at 4. The Superior Court denied May's
request to amend her complaint in August 2017.
time the Superior Court had denied May's request to add
First Motor as a defendant in the MBUSA Action, Takata
Corporation's wholly-owned U.S. subsidiary, TK Holdings
Inc., and certain other related entities (collectively,
"Takata") had filed for bankruptcy. See In re
TK Holdings Inc., No. 17-11375- BLS (the
"Bankruptcy Case"). In July 2017, Takata filed in
the Bankruptcy Case an Adversary Complaint and Motion for
Preliminary Injunction Pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 105(a),
seeking to stay all actions with claims "arising out of
or relat[ed] to [Takata's] airbag inflators ...."
See In re TK Holdings, Inc. (Adversary Proceeding),
No. 17-50880-BLS, Dkt. No. 1 at 2. Takata's stay motion
identified the MBUSA Action as one of the pending actions for
which it sought a stay. May was served with the motion but,
unlike other claimants, did not oppose the stay motion.
August 16, 2017, the presiding judge in the Bankruptcy Case,
the Honorable Brendan L. Shannon, granted Takata's stay
motion in part (the "Takata Injunction").
See D.I. 25-1, Ex. C. With two exceptions not
relevant here, the Takata Injunction stayed through November
15, 2017 all "Individual Actions," which the Takata
Injunction defined as "lawsuits brought by individuals
or entities in the United States or Canada, alleging claims
and/or causes of action against the Debtors ... and/or
Consenting OEMs arising out of or relating to airbag
inflators manufactured by Takata." See Id. at
2, ¶ C. The court held in the Takata Injunction order
that the court had "related-to jurisdiction" over
the claims brought in the Individual Actions against
"non-Debtor defendants" and "Consenting
OEMs." Mat3, ¶ E.
September 2017, MBUSA removed the MBUSA Action to the United
States District Court for the Central District of California.
In November 2017, the Bankruptcy Court extended the Takata
Injunction through February 27, 2018. See id, Ex. D.
December 18, 2017, Judge Shannon held oral argument on a
motion brought by a car owner named Joseph Graves to lift the
automatic stay imposed pursuant to 11 U.S.C. § 362(d)(1)
and allow Graves to pursue claims against the dealership ...