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United States District Court for the District of Columbia
January 17, 2017, Decided; January 17, 2017, Filed
No. 16-cv-0971 (KBJ)
[*7] MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
In April of 2016, pro se plaintiff Adam Apton—the lessee of a 2013 Volkswagen Passat—received a "safety recall" letter from Defendant Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. ("Volkswagen"), notifying him of an airbag defect in his vehicle. (Compl., Attach. to Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1-4, at 2.)1 Apton unsuccessfully attempted to address the issue by communicating with the dealer, and then filed a lawsuit against Volkswagen, VW Credit Leasing, Ltd., and Lash Auto Group, LLC [*8] (collectively, "Defendants") in the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (Id.) Apton's complaint alleged a variety of claims under common law and state consumer protection statutes, including breach of contract and breach of warranty (see id. at 8-10), and among other requests for relief, Apton asked that the automobile lease be deemed "void and terminable by Plaintiff without penalty" (id. at 10). Defendants subsequently removed [**2] Apton's legal action to this Court, asserting both diversity and federal-question jurisdiction. (See Defs.' Notice of Removal ("Removal Notice"), ECF No. 1, at 3-7.)
Before this Court at present is Apton's Motion to Remand this case to Superior Court, which also seeks "an award of costs and expenses, including attorneys' fees, in connection with the instant motion." (Pl.'s Mot. to Remand for Lack of Subject Matter Jurisdiction & Award Of Costs ("Pl.'s Remand Mot."), ECF No. 10-1, at 11.) Apton argues that this Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000, and because his complaint does not raise a federal question. (Id. at 8-11.) Apton also maintains that the Court should require Defendants to compensate him for the time that he spent working on the removal issue (he is an attorney by profession), because "the non-removability of th[is] action is obvious." (Id. at 11 (internal quotation marks and citation omitted).) Defendants respond that this Court has both diversity and federal-question jurisdiction (see Defs.' Opp'n to Pl.'s Remand Mot. ("Defs.' Opp'n"), ECF No. 14, at 6-11), and further argue that, because Apton is a pro se plaintiff who is representing [**3] himself in this lawsuit, an award of attorneys' fees is not appropriate (see id. at 11-12).
For the reasons explained below, this Court agrees with Apton that Defendants have not carried their burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction, but agrees with Defendants that Apton is not entitled to attorneys' fees or any other costs or expenses. Accordingly, Apton's Motion to Remand and Award Of Costs will be GRANTED IN PART AND DENIED IN PART, as reflected in the Order below.
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233 F. Supp. 3d 4 *; 2017 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 5798 **; 2017 WL 168866
ADAM M. APTON, Plaintiff, v. VOLKSWAGEN GROUP OF AMERICA, INC., et al., Defendants.
removal, amount in controversy, notice, attorney's fees, lease, federal court, federal law, Defendants', cover sheet, federal-question, subject matter jurisdiction, expenses, punitive damages, quotation, exceeds, marks, federal issue, district court, state law, diversity jurisdiction, state-law, threshold, costs, state court, pro se, diversity, grounds, preponderance of evidence, compensatory damages, federal question
Civil Procedure, Removal, Elements for Removal, Removability, Procedural Matters, Notice of Removal, Preliminary Considerations, Procedural Matters, Postremoval Remands, Jurisdictional Defects, Motions for Remand, Jurisdiction, Diversity Jurisdiction, Amount in Controversy, Amount in Controversy, Determination, Remedies, Damages, Punitive Damages, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Federal Questions, Justiciability, Mootness, Attorney Fees & Expenses, Basis of Recovery, Statutory Awards