United States District Court, D. Massachusetts
RICHARD K. GARICK, individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
MERCEDES-BENZ USA, LLC, Defendant.
MEMORANDUM & ORDER
Talwani United States District Judge
Richard K. Garick filed a putative class-action Complaint in
state court against Defendant Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC,
alleging unfair and deceptive business practices, fraud and
deceit, and breach of warranty claims arising out of
Plaintiff's purchase of a defective Mercedes-Benz
vehicle. Defendant removed the case, invoking federal
jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act
(“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Before the
court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand to State
Court [#11]. For the reasons that follow, the motion is
enacted CAFA “with the stated purpose of expanding the
number of class actions that could be heard in federal
court.” Pazol v. Tough Mudder Inc., 819 F.3d
548, 552 (1st Cir. 2016). “Congress effectuated that
purpose ‘by imposing only a minimal diversity
requirement, eliminating the statutory one-year time limit
for removal, and providing for interlocutory appeal of a
federal district court's remand order.'”
Id. (quoting Amoche v. Guar. Trust Life Ins.
Co., 556 F.3d 41, 47-48 (1st Cir. 2009)). CAFA provides,
however, that federal courts only have jurisdiction over such
civil actions when, in addition to other requirements not in
dispute here, “the matter in controversy exceeds the
sum or value of $5, 000, 000.” 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d)(2). Removing defendants have the burden to prove that
CAFA's “amount-in-controversy requirement has been
met.” Pazol, 819 F.3d at 552. To do so, they
“must show a ‘reasonable probability' that
more than $5 million is in dispute.” Id.
(quoting Amoche, 556 F.3d at 50). “That
standard is ‘for all practical purposes identical
to' the preponderance of the evidence standard.”
Id. (quoting Amoche, 556 F.3d at 50).
Allegations in Complaint
filed his Complaint in Essex County Superior Court alleging
the following. See State Court Record, Complaint
(hereinafter “Compl.”) [#6]. In 2005, Plaintiff
purchased a 2003 Mercedes-Benz 320C 4-matic wagon from a
Mercedes-Benz USA authorized dealer. Id. ¶ 1.
On March 24, 2006, Defendant issued a Dealer Technical
Bulletin (“DTB”) to its authorized dealers that
identified issues with the radiator and transmission systems
in some Mercedes-Benz vehicles. Id. ¶ 4.
Plaintiff alleges the “DTB acknowledged that certain
Mercedes-Benz models equipped with a radiator manufactured
and/or supplied by Valeo were defective.” Id.
¶ 5. Plaintiff alleges that his 320C 4-matic wagon was
equipped with one of the Valeo radiators at issue in the DTB.
Id. ¶ 4.
alleges that the radiator defect described in the DTB allows
coolant to mix with and contaminate transmission fluid,
causing extensive damage to the transmission and torque
converter. Id. ¶ 5. This can damage the
vehicle's drivetrain, requiring replacement of the
transmission, torque converter, and radiator. Id.
¶ 6. It can also lead to “sudden and unexpected
breakdowns and mechanical failures, ” creating a risk
of accidents, injuries, and death. Id. ¶ 8.
instructed dealers that “humming/buzzing noises or
noticeable harsh engagement during gentle acceleration”
may be caused by the defect, and that a glycol test for
dealers to determine the appropriate repair “must be
performed only if: (a) the vehicle was produced before
09/2003, (b) the radiator is manufactured by
‘Valeo', . . . [and] (c) [the] old crimping method
used to assemble the radiator and tanks resembles [a figure
in the DTB].” See Notice of Removal Ex. A pp.
20-29 [hereinafter (“DTB”)] [#1-1]. Defendant has
not recalled the affected vehicles, has not offered free
repairs or replacements to its customers, and has not
reimbursed customers for costs incurred as a result of the
defect. Compl. ¶¶ 16-17.
alleges that costs of repairing the defect and the damage it
causes “can be exorbitant, ” and “consumers
will be required to pay thousands of dollars.”
Id. ¶ 9. Plaintiff filed his Complaint as a
putative class action “on behalf of himself and on
behalf of all others similarly situated who own or lease
certain defective model year 2004 or earlier
Mercedes-Benz C-Class and CLK Class vehicles (‘Class
Vehicles') designed, manufactured, distributed, sold
and/or leased by defendant.” Id. ¶ 1
(emphasis added). Later, the Complaint defines the proposed
class somewhat differently as: “All consumers who
purchased or leased a model year 2004 or earlier C Class or
CLK Class Mercedes-Benz vehicle.” Id. ¶
25. “Plaintiff believes that there are thousands of
Class members.” Id. ¶ 27. The Complaint
seeks damages “in an amount to be determined at trial,
” as well as double or triple damages, and
attorneys' fees. Id. ¶ 65.
Defendant Removes to Federal Court
Defendant promptly removed the action to federal court.
Defendant's Notice of Removal of Civil Action
[#1] stated, in support of CAFA's amount-in-controversy
requirement, that: (1) the Complaint sought double or treble
damages; (2) Plaintiff made a pre-litigation $50 million
demand for settlement; (3) roughly 385, 000 vehicles fit into
the Complaint's definition of “Class Vehicles,
” meaning the $5 million threshold would be satisfied
even if each putative class member is entitled to only $13;
(4) the Complaint alleges “thousands of dollars”
of damages per vehicle; (5) the requested injunctive relief
would cause Defendant to suffer financial loss; and (6) the
Complaint seeks attorneys' fees and costs. Id.
at ¶ 16; see also Notice of Removal of Civil
Action Ex. B, Declaration of Noah Yanowitz (“Yanowitz
Decl.”) ¶ 1 [#1-2] (stating that Defendant's
records show that at least 385, 000 model year 2005 and
earlier C- and CLK-Class vehicles were sold or leased in the
United States); Notice of Removal of Civil Action Ex. C,
Chapter 93A Demand Letter (“Demand Letter”) ¶ 1
[#1-2] (Plaintiff demanded $31, 600.00 for himself and $50
million for class members).
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
the case was removed, Plaintiff filed a Motion to Remand
to State Court [#11]. His sole argument in support of
remand is that Defendant has failed to meet its burden to
show that CAFA's ...