United States District Court, S.D. Mississippi, Southern Division
ORDER FOR REMAND-RELATED DISCOVERY
GUIROLA, JR., CHIEF U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE
THE COURT is the Motion to Remand  filed by the plaintiffs
Matthew Steen and David Lowry. The Motion has been fully
briefed. After reviewing the submissions of the parties, the
record in this matter, and the applicable law, the Court will
order limited discovery related to the jurisdictional amount
at the time of removal for each of Plaintiffs' claims.
March 21, 2017, Plaintiffs filed this lawsuit in the Circuit
Court of the Second Judicial District of Harrison County,
Mississippi, alleging that they leased a defective 2017
Mercedes Benz GLS450 (“GLS450”), manufactured by
Defendant Mercedes-Benz USA. Mercedes-Benz of South MS
(“Seller”), an authorized dealer for Mercedes,
arranged for Plaintiffs to lease the vehicle from Daimler
Trust C/O (“Lessor”). Plaintiffs will have paid
$53, 431 at the conclusion of the lease.
purchased the GLS450 from Mercedes for $86, 428.56. Mercedes
provided warranties to Lessor including a four year or fifty
thousand mile bumper to bumper coverage warranty. On December
29, 2016, Lessor assigned its rights in Mercedes' written
warranties to Plaintiffs. Plaintiffs allege that after they
took possession of the GLS450 they experienced defects with
the engine and electrical system. As a result of these
defects, the GLS450 would not start, and the check engine
light would illuminate. Plaintiffs allege that Mercedes
failed to repair the GLS450 after multiple attempts, thus
causing Mercedes' warranties to fail. Plaintiffs further
allege that they have been and will continue to be
financially damaged due to Mercedes' failure to comply
with the warranties.
assert the following claims against Mercedes: breach of
written warranty pursuant to the Federal Magnuson-Moss
Warranty Act, breach of implied warranty pursuant to that
Act, and a state law claim for violation of the Mississippi
Vehicle Warranty Enforcement Act. On May 25, 2017, Mercedes
removed the case to this Court, asserting that this Court has
federal question jurisdiction and diversity jurisdiction over
Plaintiffs' claims. Plaintiffs filed this Motion to
Remand. Plaintiffs do not dispute that diversity of
citizenship exists, but argue that the amount in controversy
is not satisfied for diversity jurisdiction or federal
question jurisdiction based on caselaw from other
jurisdictions concerning Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act claims.
party invoking federal jurisdiction bears the burden of
establishing the amount in controversy by a preponderance of
the evidence. Hartford Ins. Grp. v. Lou-Con, Inc.,
293 F.3d 908, 910 (5th Cir. 2002) (citing St. Paul Reins.
Co., Ltd. v. Greenberg, 134 F.3d 1250, 1252 (5th Cir.
1998)). There are two ways in which the defendant can satisfy
this burden. First, the defendant may show that it is
facially apparent from the complaint that the plaintiff's
claims are likely to exceed the jurisdictional amount.
Garcia v. Koch Oil Co. of Tex., 351 F.3d 636, 639
(5th Cir. 2003). If the amount in controversy is not facially
apparent, the defendant “may support federal
jurisdiction by setting forth the facts - [either]
in the removal petition [or] by affidavit - that support a
finding of the requisite amount.” Id. (quoting
Allen v. R&H Oil & Gas Co., 63 F.3d 1326,
1335 (5th Cir. 1995)). In the remand context,
“[d]iscovery by the parties should not be allowed
except on a tight judicial tether, sharply tailored to the
question at hand, and only after a showing of its
necessity.” Smallwood v. Ill. Cent. R.R. Co.,
385 F.3d 568, 574 (5th Cir. 2004). The jurisdictional facts
supporting removal must be judged at the time of removal.
Gebbia v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 233 F.3d 880, 883
(5th Cir. 2000).
Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act confers federal question
jurisdiction over breach of warranty claims where the amount
in controversy exceeds $50, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs. 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(3); see also Scarlott v.
Nissan N. Am., Inc., 771 F.3d 883, 887 (5th Cir. 2014).
“Generally, courts look to state law to determine the
applicable measure of damages, which informs the amount in
controversy under the [Act].” Scarlott, 771
F.3d at 888. However, attorney's fees cannot be included
to establish the amount in controversy for claims asserted
under the Act. Id. Under Mississippi law,
“[t]he measure of damages for breach of warranty is the
difference at the time and place of acceptance between the
value of the goods accepted and the value they would have had
if they had been as warranted, unless special circumstances
show proximate damages of a different amount.” Miss.
Code Ann. § 75-2-714(2); see also MacKenzie v.
Chrysler Corp., 607 F.2d 1162, 1166 (5th Cir. 1979). A
buyer can also recover consequential or incidental damages
for breach of warranty under Mississippi law. Miss. Code Ann.
to state court discovery rules, Mercedes sent requests for
admissions to Plaintiffs asking Plaintiffs to admit that they
would never seek damages in excess of $50, 000, exclusive of
interests and costs, but Plaintiffs denied all such requests.
(State Ct. Resp. to Def.'s First Set of Req. for Admis.
2, ECF No. 1-1). Nevertheless, in their Motion to Remand,
Plaintiffs claim that they will not be able to recover more
than $50, 000 under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act.
Plaintiffs rely on cases from the Third, Sixth, and Seventh
Circuits in which a cost of cover formula was adopted to
determine the amount in controversy for Magnuson-Moss
Warranty Act claims. See generally Golden v. Gorno Bros.,
Inc., 410 F.3d 879 (6th Cir. 2005); Samuel-Bassett
v. Kia Motors Am., Inc., 357 F.3d 352 (3d Cir. 2003);
Gardynski-Leschunk v. Ford Motor Co., 142 F.3d 955
(7th Cir. 1998).
in those cases, the courts had information such as the cost
of a replacement vehicle and the present value of the vehicle
available to assist them in making the necessary calculations
of damages under the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act. See,
e.g., Golden, 410 F.3d at 885. In the present case,
Plaintiffs are asking the Court to calculate their damages
even though the only information provided to the Court is the
purchase price of the vehicle and vague citations to the
Kelley Blue Book. Moreover, these calculations
should have been performed by Plaintiffs prior to filing
their Complaint to prevent confusion as to the amount in
controversy in this lawsuit. Therefore, it is unclear at this
time as to what the amount in controversy is for the
U.S.C. § 1332 confers federal diversity jurisdiction
over civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds
the sum or value of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and
costs, and the civil action is between citizens of different
states. The Magnusson-Moss Warranty Act provides that
Magnusson-Moss claims can be brought “in any court of
competent jurisdiction in any State or District of
Columbia” without regard to the amount in controversy.
Barnes v. West, Inc.,249 F.Supp.2d 737, 739 (E.D.
Va. 2003) (citing 15 U.S.C. § 2310(d)(1)(A)). Thus, if
diversity jurisdiction can be established over the state law
claim, the Court can exercise supplemental jurisdiction over
the Magnusson-Moss ...