State of New Hampshire v Purdue Pharma, et al., 2018 WL 333824 (D.N.H. Jan. 9, 2018).

In this action a New Hampshire district court found that a parens patriae case was not sufficiently similar to a class action brought under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 so as to justify removal under CAFA.

The State of New Hampshire brought an action against Purdue Pharma in Merrimack County Superior Court, alleging that the defendant made misrepresentations to the State’s consumers regarding the risks and benefits of its opioid pain medications, causing injury to the State and its consumers.

The defendant removed the action to federal court pursuant to CAFA. As the court noted, a CAFA action is defined as a class action that is “filed uner [R]ule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or similar State statute or rule of judicial procedure authorizing an action to be brought by [one] or more representative persons as a class action.” The State moved to remand the case based on the fact that it did not file its complaint under Rule 23 and the complaint was not based on a statute similar to Rule 23 so as to warrant CAFA removal.

In determining whether the State’s parens patriae case was sufficiently similar to a Rule 23 action, the court noted the requirements of a Rule 23 action—notably numerosity, commonality, typicality, and adequacy. The court reasoned that a parens patriae action does not require any of the aforementioned factors. Further, the court stated that “a parens patriae action is unlike a class action because a state’s power to sue on behalf of others derives from its sovereign power to protect its citizens rather than its status as a member of a class of injured plaintiffs.”

The defendant argued that because the State sought individualized relief on behalf of consumers, the case was more akin to a class action than a parens patriae action.  The court disagreed, finding that the fact that the complaint sought relief on behalf of a certain group of citizens did not make the case similar to a Rule 23 action.

Accordingly, the court found that it did not have jurisdiction over the case under CAFA and granted the State’s motion to remand.

Posted by Amanda Laviage