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Hack v. Sai Rockville L, LLC

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

February 24, 2015

SOMARIA HACK Plaintiff,
v.
SAI ROCKVILLE L, LLC, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES Jr., District Judge.

Somaria Hack sued SAI Rockville L, LLC, doing business as Lexus of Rockville ("Lexus"), Toyota Motor North America, Inc. ("Toyota"), and Lexus Customer Convenience System, LLC ("LCCS") (collectively, the "Defendants") in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, alleging product liability and breach of warranty. ECF No. 2. Toyota removed the suit to this Court. ECF No. 1. Hack amended her complaint to add a negligence claim against Lexus. ECF No. 12.[1] Pending are (1) Toyota's motions to dismiss the complaint and the amended complaint for failure to state a claim, and to strike Hack's reply, ECF Nos. 6, 19, 28, (2) Hack's motion for order to show cause, ECF No. 15, [2] and (3) Lexus's motion to dismiss for insufficiency of service, ECF No. 17.[3] No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the Court will remand the suit to the Circuit Court because it lacks subject matter jurisdiction.

I. Background[4]

Lexus[5] is a car dealership located in Rockville, Maryland, which sells, distributes, and markets Lexus brand Toyota Motor products. ECF No. 2 ¶ 2. Toyota is a Corporation organized under California law. Id. ¶ 3.[6] Hack is a resident of Silver Spring, Maryland. Id. ¶ 1.

On October 11, 2010, Hack was a passenger in a Lexus RX 350 car lent to the driver by LCCS, and which was involved in an accident. Id. ¶¶ 8-10. The car was manufactured by Toyota, but sold and serviced by Lexus. Id. ¶ 8; see also id. ¶ 16. During the accident, Hack's seatbelt unbuckled, the doors opened, and Hack was ejected from the car. Id. ¶¶ 9, 18, 22.

As a result of the accident, Hack "suffered serious injuries to her left knee and other parts of her body, " requiring surgery and physical therapy, "and is permanently partially disabled." Id. ¶ 19; see also id. ¶ 10. Hack is unable to live independently, and has "become dependent on assistance." Id. ¶ 11. The car "was in the same condition of manufacture when [Hack] was a passenger." Id. ¶¶ 17, 21.

Defendants made express and implied warranties "that the automobile and components were merchantable, fit for the intended purpose[, ] and safe for normal use." Id. ¶ 25. Hack "relied upon the skill and judgment of the Defendants in selecting, designing, manufacturing, testing, marketing, and selling the [car] for its intended and ordinary purposes." Id. ¶ 26. The Defendants' breach of warranty resulted in Hack's injuries. Id. ¶ 27-28.

On October 11, 2013, Hack sued the Defendants in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. ECF Nos. 1 ¶ 1; 2. On June 19, 2014, Toyota removed to this Court under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(a)(1) and 1441(b). ECF No. 1.

II. Analysis

A. Legal Standard for Subject Matter Jurisdiction

The Court begins, "as [it] must in a diversity case, by examining the basis for jurisdiction." Mayes v. Rapoport, 198 F.3d 457, 460 (4th Cir. 1999); see also Brickwood Contractors, Inc. v. Datanet Eng'g, Inc., 369 F.3d 385, 390 (4th Cir. 2004) ("[Q]uestions of subject-matter jurisdiction may be raised... sua sponte by the court."); State v. Ivory, 906 F.2d 999, 1000 (4th Cir. 1990) (sua sponte reversing district court's judgment on the merits for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and remanding with instructions to remand to state court).[7] The removing party has the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction. Md. Stadium Auth. v. Ellerbe Becket, Inc., 407 F.3d 255, 260 (4th Cir. 2005). Because removal raises "significant federalism concerns, " the removal statutes must be strictly construed, and all doubts must be resolved in favor of remanding the case to state court. Id.

B. The Court's Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Toyota contends that this Court may disregard Lexus's Maryland citizenship, thereby exercising diversity jurisdiction, because Hack's service of process on Lexus "was improper under the Maryland Rules, " ...


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