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CAFA Law Blog

Information, cases and insights regarding the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005

District Court Holds That Removal of Multiple Suits is Barred by the Forum Defendant Rule; However, Removal is Permissible under CAFA

Posted in Case Summaries

In Re Lipitor Marketing, Sales Practices and Products Liability Litigation, 2016 WL 7338594 (D.S.C. Nov. 21, 2016).

In this multi-district litigation (“MDL”), while granting in part the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, the MDL court considered the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005’s (“CAFA”) prohibition on transfers and suggested the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) to remand the cases to their transferor courts finding that removal of those actions on the basis of diversity jurisdiction was barred by the forum defendant rule and the only possible basis for removal was CAFA.

The plaintiffs originally filed each of the subject eight lawsuits in California state court against the defendants Pfizer, Inc. and McKesson Corp., alleging that a pharmaceutical product, Lipitor, caused them to develop Type II diabetes and that, among other things, the defendants did not properly disclose the risks associated with Lipitor.

The defendants removed the actions to federal district courts in California, asserting diversity jurisdiction and jurisdiction under CAFA.  After removal, the cases were transferred to the MDL (the “District Court” of South Carolina) by the JPML, and the plaintiffs moved to remand.  The plaintiffs argued that the forum defendant rule barred removal under diversity jurisdiction, as McKesson was a resident of California.  The plaintiffs also disputed whether federal jurisdiction under CAFA existed and argued that the District Court should remand the cases to California federal courts in accordance with CAFA.

The Magistrate Judge granted the motions to remand and ordered that the actions be transferred to the federal district courts in California from which they came. The defendants filed objections to the report.  The District Court granted in part the plaintiffs’ motion to remand.


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“Local Controversy” Exception Demands Remand

Posted in Case Summaries

Vitale_v__DR_Horton__Inc_, CV No. 15-00312 DKW-KSC, 2016 WL 4203399 (D. Haw. Aug. 9, 2016)

In Vitale v. D.R. Horton, Inc., a federal district court in Hawaii remanded a putative class action, one brought pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), because CAFA’s “local controversy” exception demanded that the federal court decline to exercise its jurisdiction. Continue Reading

Ninth Circuit Reverses District Court’s Remand Order Finding that Defendant’s Theory of Damages Reasonable

Posted in Case Summaries

Branch v. PM Realty Group, L.P., 647 Fed. App’x. 743 (9th Cir. 2016).

In this case, the Ninth Circuit reversed a district court’s order remanding the action finding that the defendant’s assumption of the amount-in-controversy objectively established that the amount-in-controversy exceeded CAFA’s jurisdictional minimum.

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Eighth Circuit Holds CAFA Does Not Authorize Class Counsel To Choose Its Own Method Of Fee Calculation

Posted in Case Summaries

Galloway v. The Kansas City Landsmen, LLC, 2016 WL 4409343 (8th Cir. Aug. 19, 2016)

In this case, affirming the judgment of a district court for an award of attorney’s fee to class counsel, the Eighth Circuit found that 28 U.S.C. § 1712 does not authorize class counsel to choose its method of payment calculation for purposes of computing attorneys’ fees, departing from the Ninth Circuit’s interpretation of the statute.

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Estimation Of Potential Damages From The Complaint’s Allegations Is Acceptable For Establishing CAFA’s Amount In Controversy

Posted in Case Summaries

Heather v Air Methods Corporation, 2016 WL 7109675 (W.D. Okla. Dec. 6, 2016).

The Western District of Oklahoma found that a defendant may rely on an estimate of the potential damages from the allegations in the complaint in order to meet its burden to establish the CAFA’s amount in controversy requirement.

In Heather, the plaintiffs brought a putative class action in state court alleging that the defendants charged unreasonable rates for air ambulance services that they provided to the plaintiffs and purported class members.

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Class Actions In ‘Substance’ Fall Within the Ambit of CAFA

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Williams v Employers Mutual Casualty Company et al., 2017 WL 117148 (8th Cir. 2017).

In affirming the judgment of a District Court’s order denying plaintiff’s motion to remand, the Eighth Circuit found that an equitable garnishment action against insurers and land owners, although labeled otherwise, is a class action in “substance” for the purpose of CAFA because the garnishment action emerged from a class action filed in state court.

Plaintiff, on behalf of herself and the residents of Autumn Hills Mobile Home Park (“Autumn Hills”), brought a class action in state court against the owner of Autumn Hills, The Collier Organization, Inc. (“Collier”), alleging that Collier supplied the residents of Autumn Hills with contaminated drinking water (hereinafter referred to as the “Original Action”).   Continue Reading

CAFA Does Not Trump Valid Forum Selection Clause

Posted in Case Summaries

Bartels v. Saber Healthcare Group, LLC, 2016 WL 6237811 (E.D.N.C. Oct. 25, 2016)

A District Court in North Carolina remanded this putative class action after finding a forum selection clause, which limited venue to a geographic location that did not encompass a federal district court, effectively waived the right to remove to federal court. The District Court rejected the defendants’ argument that CAFA nonetheless provided jurisdiction by trumping the forum selection clause. Continue Reading

A Removing Defendant Under CAFA Is Not Required To Allege Facts In Its Notice Of Removal Showing The Inapplicability Of The Local Controversy Exception

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Henry Hernandez v. Sysco Corp., 2017 WL 358021 (N.D. Cal., Jan. 25, 2017)

In this wage and hour class action, while denying the plaintiff’s motion to remand, a District Court in California found that it was the plaintiff’s burden to show that the local controversy requirement applied, not the defendants’ burden to show that it did not, and that the defendants need not allege facts in the notice of removal showing the inapplicability of the local controversy exception.

The plaintiff brought a putative class action in Alameda County Superior Court alleging that the defendants, inter alia, failed to pay minimum wage and overtime compensation, and provide meal and rest periods in violation of the California Labor Code.

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Fraudulent Misjoinder Requires ‘Egregious’ Misjoinder, Rather Than ‘Mere Misjoinder’

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Dotson v Bayer Corp, 2017 WL 35706 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 4, 2017).

In granting plaintiffs’ motion to remand, a District Court in Missouri found that the doctrine of fraudulent misjoinder did not support subject matter jurisdiction over an action against the manufacturers of a medical device because the joinder of a non-diverse plaintiff was not ‘egregious.’

Plaintiffs brought a putative class action alleging that the defendants manufactured and sold an unsafe medical device, Essure, for permanent birth control. The defendants removed the lawsuit to federal court based on diversity as well as federal question jurisdiction.  Among other arguments, plaintiffs moved to remand due to a lack of complete diversity between the plaintiffs and the defendants. In response, the defendants argued that the non-diverse plaintiffs were fraudulently misjoined.

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Ninth Circuit Remands Action Based Upon CAFA’s Local Controversy Exception

Posted in Case Summaries

 Allen v. Boeing Co. 2016 WL 2586334 (9th Cir. May 5, 2016).

The Ninth Circuit found that the plaintiffs’ complaint sufficiently alleged that the plaintiffs sought significant relief from the local defendant.  The plaintiffs therefore satisfied the requirements CAFA’s local controversy exception to divest the federal court of its jurisdiction.  The Ninth Circuit affirmed the District Court’s order remanding the action.

The plaintiffs in this case were more than 108 individuals.  The plaintiffs brought an action in Washington state court alleging that for several decades the defendant Boeing Company (“Boeing”) released toxins into the groundwater around its facility in Auburn, Washington, and that for over a decade the defendant Landau Associates (“Landau”) had been negligent in its investigation, remediation and containment of the hazardous substances.

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