Boulanger v. Devlar Energy Marketing, LLC., 2015 WL 7076475 (N.D. Tex. Nov. 11, 2015).
A District Court in Texas found that a non-suited action may fail to satisfy CAFA’s definition of a class action, but it can still satisfy the definition of a mass action, and retained jurisdiction.
Arbuckle Mountain Ranch of Tex., Inc. v. Chesapeake Energy Corp., 810 F.3d 335 (5th Cir., 2016).
The Fifth Circuit found that in an ambiguous complaint suggesting two class definitions (one a narrow definition, the other a broad definition), if the pleading taken as a whole indicates a broader definition, it should be assumed that the plaintiff intended to define a broader class. The Fifth Circuit in this case found that the broader definition defeated CAFA’s local controversy exception, and reversed and remanded.
The defendants were a group of oil and gas companies who operated producing wells in Johnson County and Tarrant County in Texas. The defendants had obtained oil and gas leases on commercial and residential property in downtown Fort Worth and adjacent locations. As a result, the defendants leased a substantial number of “third-of-an-acre, quarter-of-an-acre” ploys. Allegedly, numerous lessors lost their property through foreclosure after the execution of their leases. The plaintiff and the putative class, claiming to be post-foreclosure owners of the disputed oil and gas interests, brought an action in Texas state court claiming that the defendants’ oil and gas leases automatically terminated upon foreclosure. According to the plaintiff and the putative class, the defendants’ continued operation of those wellheads constituting trespass and conversion.
Challenging Class Certification at the Pleading Stage: What Rule Should Govern And What Standard Should Apply?
In his article, Timothy A. Daniels, Esq. (“Daniels”), discusses the approaches taken by courts regarding how to resolve a class certification challenge at the pleadings stage. See 56 S. Tex. L. Rev. 241.
It is increasingly common in class actions for defendants to challenge the class certification at the pleading stage based on failure to comply with Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (“FRCP”) 23. Daniels discusses a series of cases that dealt with class certification challenges. First, Daniels mentions the United States Supreme Court’s (the “Supreme Court”) rulings in Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. v. Dukes, 564 U.S. 338 (2011) and Comcast v. Behrend, 133 S.Ct. 1426 (2013), which have established heightened standards in the federal courts for class certification. Second, Daniels mentions the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), and how it has liberalized the requirements for federal court diversity jurisdiction over class actions, and correspondingly the requirements for the removal of such cases to federal courts.
In_re_Whole_Foods_Market__Inc, 2015 WL 5737692 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 30, 2015).
The United States District Court, Western District of Texas (the “District Court”), denied two motions to remand finding the allegations in the respective complaints was facially sufficient to establish an amount-in-controversy under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”).
“CAFA-nated”: A Jittery Interpretation of Forum Selection in Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles, 68 Ark. L. Rev. 511 , 530 (2015).
In her article, author Jessica K. Pruitt, analyzes the interpretation and effect of forum-selection after the United States Supreme Court’s ruling in Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles. Pruitt’s article explores the U.S. Supreme Court’s forum-shopping jurisprudence, which shows the Court’s distaste for the gamesmanship of plaintiffs’ lawyers who try to defeat the basic principles of CAFA, and keep their class action lawsuits in state court.
Crookshanks v. Healthport Technologics, LLC, 2016 WL4099296 (S.D. W.Va. Aug. 2, 2016).
In Crookshanks v. Healthport Technologies, a district court in West Virginia remanded an action to state court because the defendants’’ calculation of the amount in controversy was insufficient to satisfy CAFA’’ s jurisdictional threshold.
In this case, Crookshanks, representing himself and others similarly situated, filed a class action complaint in the Circuit Court of Kanawha County, West Virginia against Charleston Area Medical Center, Inc. (“”CAMC”” ) and HealthPort Technologies, LLC (“”HealthPort”” ). Crookshanks was a patient at a CAMC facility in 2015. He subsequently sent a letter to CAMC requesting copies of his medical records and bills. HealthPort, acting as CAMC’’ s medical records manager, charged Crookshanks $4,463.43 for the records. This payment was passed on HealthPort’’ s $0.55 per page fee.
Plaintiffs filed the class action lawsuit arguing that the fee was not a “” reasonable, cost-based fee”” as required by section 16-29-2 of the West Virginia Code. Plaintiffs defined the class as any person who (1) requested copies of his or her medical records from any health care provider in West Virginia during the class period; (2) had his request handled by HealthPort; and (3) paid fees charged by CAMC or HealthPort. The defendants removed the action to the federal court pursuant to CAFA and alleged minimum diversity of citizenship, an aggregate amount in controversy in excess of $5 million (exclusive of interest and costs), and a class size greater than 100 persons. The plaintiffs moved to remand. Continue Reading
Fannin v UMTH_Land Dev. L.P., CV 16-641-SLR, 2016 WL 7042078 (D. Del. Dec. 2, 2016)
A Delaware district court, when faced with a putative class action whose claims fell solely and squarely within CAFA’s “internal affairs doctrine” and “securities exception,” had no choice but to remand the action to state court. Continue Reading
In_re_Anthem_Inc_Data_Breach_Litigation, 129 F.Supp.3d 887 (N.D. Cal. 2015).
The United States District Court, Northern District of California (the “District Court”) concluded post removal amendments clarifying the citizenship of class members was relevant to consider if a complaint met the minimal diversity requirement under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) enabling the Federal Court to exercise jurisdiction over the action.
McMullen_v_Synchrony_Bank, 82 F.Supp.3d 133 (D. D. C. 2015).
In this matter, the United States District Court for the District of Columbia (the “District Court”) ordered limited discovery to ascertain the citizenship of the putative class before deciding on a motion to remand. In this action, the District Court found the evidence before it was insufficient to consider the exceptions to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), and ordered limited discovery.
Eminence Investors, L.L. L.P. v. Bank of N.Y. Mellon, 782 F.3d 504 (9th Cir., 2015)
The Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s order remanding the action, finding that the CAFA’s securities exception prevented federal jurisdiction over the action.
In this case, the plaintiff brought an action in California state court seeking to recover for the defendant’s alleged breaches of duties that the defendant owed as the Indenture Trustee of bonds issues to fund the development of real property. Almost two years later, the plaintiff amended the complaint adding class allegations on behalf of more than 100 class members and requesting compensatory damages expected to exceed $10 million for each of the alleged four causes of action. Within 30 days after filing the complaint, the defendant removed the action to federal court.
The plaintiff moved to remand, arguing that removal was untimely and that the CAFA securities exception applied. The District Court agreed with the plaintiff regarding the untimeliness of the removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), and remanded the case to the state court without reaching the securities exception. The defendant appealed to the Ninth Circuit.