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WETZEL v. AMC

May 5, 1988

Veronica M. Wetzel
v.
American Motors Corporation



The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHAPIRO

 NORMA L. SHAPIRO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

 Plaintiff, Veronica M. Wetzel, has instituted this action against defendant, American Motors Corporation, to recover for the purchase of an allegedly defective 1986 Renault Alliance Sedan; the parties are of diverse citizenship and jurisdiction is asserted under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The first three counts of the amended complaint are based on Pennsylvania statutory law. Count I asserts a claim under the Pennsylvania Automobile Lemon Law, 73 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 1952 et seq. Count II is based on the Pennsylvania Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law, 73 Pa. Cons. Stat. § 201-1 et seq. Count III alleges violations of the implied and express warranty provisions of the Uniform Commercial Code as adopted in Pennsylvania, 13 Pa. Cons. Stat. §§ 2313, 2314, and 2315. Count IV asserts a claim under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, 15 U.S.C. § 2301 et seq. Defendant moves to dismiss Count IV for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

 
Subject to subsections (a)(3) and (e) of this section, a consumer who is damaged by the failure of a supplier, warrantor, or service contractor to comply with any obligation under this chapter, or under a written warranty, implied warranty, or service contract, may bring suit for damages and other legal and equitable relief --
 
(A) in any court of competent jurisdiction in any State or the District of Columbia; or
 
(B) in an appropriate district court of the United States, subject to paragraph (3) of this subsection.

 There is no limit on the amount in controversy in a state court action but 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(3) imposes a limit on federal court jurisdiction:

 
No claim shall be cognizable in a suit brought under paragraph (1)(B) of this subsection --
 
(A) if the amount in controversy of any individual claim is less than the sum or value of $ 25;
 
(B) 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; or
 
(C) if the action is brought as a class action, and the number of named plaintiffs is less than one hundred. *fn1"

 Plaintiff avers that the purchase price of the automobile was $ 11,165.40; the maximum recoverable damages are treble that amount, or $ 33,496.20. Both these sums are less than $ 50,000. *fn2" Defendant argues that the amount in controversy is insufficient to invoke federal jurisdiction under the MMWA, so this court does not have subject matter jurisdiction over plaintiff's MMWA claim. However, plaintiff asserts federal jurisdiction by reason of diversity of citizenship and pendent jurisdiction over the MMWA claim.

 The issue is whether the jurisdictional amount required by MMWA as a basis for federal jurisdiction precludes any MMWA claim in federal court with less than the amount in controversy even if there is independent jurisdiction based on diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332. We hold that the MMWA limitation on the amount in controversy precludes a federal cause of action where jurisdiction is predicated only on federal question jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1337), but does not preclude federal jurisdiction where there are state claims to which the MMWA claim is pendent and the parties are of diverse citizenship. Defendant's motion will be denied.

 It is undisputed that this court has jurisdiction over Counts I, II, and III based on diversity of citizenship of the parties. Plaintiff argues there ...


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