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Farina v. Sirpilla RV Centers

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

June 11, 2019




         This matter is before the Court for consideration of the following motions: (1) the motion of plaintiff to remand (Doc. No. 14 [“Mot. Remand”]), and (2) the motion of certain defendants to transfer venue to the Northern District of Indiana. (Doc. No. 13 [“Mot. Tr.”].) Both motions are fully briefed and ripe for resolution. (Doc. No. 19 (Response to Motion to Remand [“Opp'n Mot. Remand”]);[1]Doc. No. 22 (Reply to Motion to Remand [“Reply Mot. Remand”]); Doc. No. 15 (Response to Motion to Transfer [“Opp'n Mot. Tr.”]); Doc. No. 16 (Reply to Motion to Transfer [“Reply Mot. Tr.”]).) For the reasons stated herein, the motion to remand is denied and the motion to transfer is granted.

         I. Background

         On October 25, 2018, plaintiff Michael Farina (“Farina”) filed suit in state court. In his complaint, Farina alleged that, on August 10, 2018, he purchased a motor home from defendant Sirpilla RV Centers, LLC, d/b/a Camping World RV Sales of Akron (“Camping World”). (Doc. No. 1-1 (Complaint [“Compl.”]) ¶¶ 2, 9, 12.) The vehicle was a 2019 Seneca motor home manufactured by defendant Jayco, Inc. (“Jayco”), with a purchase price of $207, 327.87. (Id. ¶¶ 5, 9, 15.) Of this amount, $12, 280 represented a payment for an extended warranty issued by Good Sam. (Id. ¶ 9; see id. ¶ 14.) Farina made a down payment in the amount of $50, 000 and took possession of the vehicle on August 11, 2018. (Id. ¶¶ 17, 21.)

         Immediately after purchase, Farina observed that the “check engine” light would illuminate upon starting the vehicle. (Id. ¶ 22.) He also noticed “numerous other material problems and defects with the [m]otor [h]ome.” (Id. ¶ 24.) Farina contacted Camping World and was advised by an employee that the “check engine” light warning was serious. (Id. ¶ 23.) On August 16, 2018, at the direction of Camping World, Farina returned the motor home for service. Camping World's service department advised Farina that they were unable to repair the motor home's engine. (Id. ¶ 25.) Camping World remains in possession of the motor home, which has been out of service by reason of repair for more than 30 days. (Id. ¶¶ 26, 27.)

         Farina's complaint raises seven claims against defendants, as follows: the First Cause of Action alleges breach of warranties; the Second Cause of Action is a claim for violation of Ohio's lemon law, Ohio Rev. Code § 1345.75; the Third Cause of Action raises a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”), 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d); the Fourth Cause of Action is a claim under the Ohio Consumer Sales Practices Act, Ohio Rev. Code § 1345.09; the Fifth Cause of Action sounds in fraud; the Sixth Cause of Action alleges the breach of an extended warranty; and the Seventh Cause of Action seeks declaratory relief. Farina's prayer for relief also includes a request for “rescission of the transaction” and a recovery of related damages, compensatory damages in the amount of the purchase price of the vehicle plus the cost of the extended warranty, cancellation of the loan, punitive damages for fraud, as well as an award of interest, costs, and attorney's fees. (Id. at 13-14.[2])

         On November 27, 2018, defendants Jayco, Camping World, and Bank of America removed the action to federal court, citing the fact that Farina had asserted a claim under the MMWA. (Doc. No. 1 (Notice of Removal [“Not.”]) at 1.) In support of removal, defendants contended that the complaint seeks more than the $50, 000 amount in controversy, exclusive of interest and costs, required under the MMWA. (Id.) The following day (November 28, 2018), defendants filed their motion to transfer venue. Farina's motion to remand followed on December 11, 2018. Because the motion to remand raises the threshold question of the Court's jurisdiction over this matter, the Court will address it first.

         II. Motion to Remand

         The parties agree that the only source of federal jurisdiction in this case is Farina's claim under the MMWA. Although it is a federal statute, the Court's jurisdiction under the MMWA is limited by a $50, 000 amount in controversy requirement. Schultz v. Gen. R.V. Ctr., 512 F.3d 754, 757 (6th Cir. 2008). Claims brought under the MMWA are not cognizable in federal court “if the amount in controversy is less than the sum or value of $50, 000 (exclusive of interests and costs) computed on the basis of all claims to be determined in this suit[.]” 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(3)(B). When determining the amount in controversy, for purposes of jurisdiction under the MWA, the Sixth Circuit applies the “legal certainty” test. Schultz, 512 F.3d at 756 (collecting cases). “Under the legal certainty test, federal subject matter jurisdiction exists ‘if there is a probability that the value of the matter in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional amount.'” Id. (quoting Kovacs v. Chesley, 406 F.3d 393, 397 (6th Cir. 2005)).

         Farina argues that federal subject matter jurisdiction is lacking because the total amount in controversy is less than $50, 000. In support of his argument, Farina relies primarily on Golden v. Gorno Bros., Inc., 410 F.3d 879 (6th Cir. 2005), wherein the Sixth Circuit first announced the formula for determining whether the amount in controversy has been satisfied. There, the court held:

[t]he finance charges of a contract should not be added when determining if the amount in controversy has been satisfied. Pursuant to that analysis, the amount in controversy . . . would be calculated by determining the difference between the cost of a replacement vehicle . . . and the present value of the [vehicle]. The resulting figure . . . would be further reduced by the value that [the purchaser] obtained from the [vehicle].

Id. at 885 (footnote omitted).

         Defendants argue that the formula in Golden is inapplicable to the present case because Farina has sought the remedy of rescission and not revocation and, accordingly, the formula adopted by the Sixth Circuit for parties seeking rescission should guide the analysis. As in the present case, in Harnden v. Jayco, Inc., 496 F.3d 579, 582 (6th Cir. 2007), the plaintiff brought suit against Jayco, alleging that the Jayco motor home he purchased was defective. Noting that the plaintiff alleged a breach of contract and requested the cancellation of his contract, the court in Harnden determined that the remedy sought was “more akin” to rescission than revocation. Id. Because the plaintiff sought the remedy of rescission, the Sixth Circuit held that the amount in controversy was determined by “the amount of [the] contract, without offset.” Id.; see Harris v. Gulf Stream Coach, Inc., 547 F.Supp.2d 765, 770 (E.D. Mich. 2008) (finding that Harnden controls the calculation of the amount in controversy under the MMWA because the plaintiff asserted a claim that the defendants breached an express warranty that was part of the parties' contract and requested the cancelation of the contract).

         The Court finds it unnecessary at this juncture to determine whether Farina is seeking revocation or rescission because, under either formula, subject matter jurisdiction is satisfied. Under the Harnden formula, the amount in controversy easily exceeds the jurisdictional amount as the parties agree that the purchase price of the motor ...

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