The opinion of the court was delivered by: Joyner, District Judge.
By way of the motion which is now pending before this Court,
Plaintiff, Shamell Samuel-Bassett, moves to remand this as yet
uncertified class action to the Court of Common Pleas of
Philadelphia County. For the reasons which follow, the motion
shall be denied.
Plaintiff filed this action in January, 2001 "on her own behalf
and on behalf of all other persons similarly situated" for
damages arising out of an allegedly defective brake system in the
model year 2000 Kia Sephia automobile which she purchased from
Downingtown Motor Corp. According to the plaintiff's complaint,
the braking defect is a systemic design, materials and
workmanship defect which causes the vehicle to shudder, vibrate,
make grinding and groaning noises upon application of the brakes
and often renders the vehicle unable to stop. Despite the
defendant's purported knowledge about the brake system defect,
Defendant failed to warn or notify consumers of the defect and
failed to repair or offer to repair consumers' vehicles. Since
Plaintiff purchased her Sephia automobile, it has consistently
exhibited and suffered from the brake system defect and Plaintiff
has therefore been substantially impaired in the use of her car.
a) a declaration that Defendant's conduct constitutes
a violation of the Unfair Trade Practices and
Consumer Protection Law, 73 P.S. § 201-1, et. seq.
and the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Improvement Act,
15 U.S.C. § 2301, et. seq., and a breach of implied
and express warranties;
b) to be notified and warned about the brake system
defect and to final injunctive relief compelling
Defendant to issue a notification and warning to all
class members concerning such defect;
c) actual damages representing (i) the failure of
consideration in connection with and/or the
difference in value arising out of the variance
between the defendant's automobiles as warranted and
the automobiles containing the brake system defect;
(ii) the depression of resale value of the
automobiles; (iii) sufficient funds to permit the
owner of each vehicle containing the brake system
defect to obtain effective repairs; (iv) a refund of
all monies paid out-of-pocket for repair attempts;
(v) compensation for all out-of-pocket expenses
suffered as the result of being unable to use the
vehicle, including the cost of any and all alternate
forms of transportation; and (vi) rescission of the
sale and/or lease of the vehicle, where appropriate.
Plaintiff's complaint*fn1 alleges that she is a citizen of
Pennsylvania and resident of Philadelphia and that Kia Motors
America, Inc. is a California corporation. (Complaint, ¶ s 3,4).
The complaint, however, further avers that neither the claim of
the plaintiff herself nor that of any proposed individual class
member "meets the jurisdictional requirements of 28 U.S.C. § 1332
pertaining to federal jurisdiction based upon diversity of
citizenship, and no basis exists for any other type of federal
court jurisdiction." (Complaint, ¶ 5). In the Notice of Removal
which it filed on February 12, 2001, Kia Motors averred that in
light of the legal and equitable relief sought and the claims for
punitive damages and attorneys' fees, the amount in controversy
presented by the plaintiff's complaint was above the minimum
amount of $75,000.00. In filing her motion to remand, Plaintiff
challenges this assertion.
The principles governing the removal of actions from state
courts are outlined in 28 U.S.C. § 1441, which provides, in
(a) Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of
Congress, any civil action brought in a State court
of which the district courts of the United States
have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the
defendant or the defendants, to the district court of
the United States for the district and division
embracing the place where such action is pending . ..
Under this statute, the propriety of removal therefore depends
upon whether the case originally could have been filed in federal
court. City of Chicago v. International College of Surgeons,
522 U.S. 156, 163, 118 S.Ct. 523, 529, 139 L.Ed.2d 525 (1997).
For a court to exercise jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332,
there must be both diversity of citizenship and an amount in
controversy in excess of $75,000. Orndorff v. Allstate Insurance
Company, 896 F. Supp. 173, 174 (M.D.Pa. 1995);
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The amount in controversy is measured by a reasonable
reading of the value of the rights being litigated. Angus v.
Shiley, 989 F.2d 142, 146 (3rd Cir. 1993).
It has consistently been held that § 1441 is to be strictly
construed against removal so that the congressional intent to
restrict federal diversity jurisdiction is honored. Meritcare,
Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Insurance Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217 (3rd
Cir. 1999); Robinson v. Computer Learning Centers, Inc., 1999
WL 817745, 1999 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 15753 (E.D.Pa. 1999). All doubts
as to the existence of federal jurisdiction must be resolved in
favor of remand. Packard v. ...