Chuang v. Dr Pepper Snapple, 2017 WL 2463951 (C.D. Cal. Jun 7, 2017).
In denying the plaintiff’s motion to remand, a District Court in California found that the presence of at least some claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction is sufficient to allow removal of an entire case, even if other claims alleged are ultimately beyond the district court’s power to decide. Further, the Court found that the plaintiff was not entitled even to a partial remand because the plaintiff was seeking not to remand a claim but to remand a specific remedy—injunctive relief—and neither the text of 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) nor the policies underlying CAFA supported such claim-splitting.The plaintiff brought a putative class action in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that the defendants misrepresented the fruit content and nutritional qualities of the defendants’ brand fruit snacks.
The defendants removed the action to the federal district court pursuant to CAFA. The plaintiff moved to remand any claims for which the court concluded that he lacked Article III standing, stating that the Court may conclude at some future date that the plaintiff lacked Article III standing to request injunctive relief for his false advertising claims. (Emphasis in original.) The plaintiff thus sought remand of the entire action to the Superior Court or, alternatively, a partial remand of those claims over which the Court lacked jurisdiction.
The Court noted that in the Ninth Circuit, courts are split as to whether plaintiffs in false advertising actions lack standing to pursue injunctive relief. The plaintiff contended that the action should be remanded because the District Court might conclude that he lacked standing to pursue injunctive relief. The Court, however, stated that because it had not yet determined whether the plaintiff had standing to pursue injunctive relief, and the plaintiff had no basis from which to contend that any claim should be remanded for lack of jurisdiction.
The Court further stated that, even assuming that it would agree that the plaintiff lacked standing to pursue his request for injunctive relief, remand would be inappropriate. It noted that in Lee v. American National Insurance Co., 260 F.3d 997 (9th Cir. 2001), the Ninth Circuit explained that “the presence of at least some claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction is sufficient to allow removal of an entire case, even if others of the claims alleged are beyond the district court’s power to decide.” The District Court therefore noted that the Ninth Circuit affirmed that district court’s refusal to remand an action over which the court had subject-matter jurisdiction over at least some of the claims. Here, the District Court concluded that it had jurisdiction over at least the plaintiff’s request for damages, so under Lee, the plaintiff’s request that it remand the action in its entirety because the court might conclude—but had not yet concluded—that the plaintiff lacked standing to pursue an injunction was precluded.
Additionally, the District Court found that it may not remand only the request for injunctive relief and noted that it had considered this issue in a similar case, Cabral v. Supple, LLC, 2016 WL 1180143 (C.D. Cal. Mar. 24, 2016). In Cabral, the plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s advertisements mislead consumers and sought a partial remand under the theory that she may have been foreclosed from seeking injunctive relief in federal court. But the court in Cabral determined that the plaintiff was not entitled even to a partial remand because the plaintiff was seeking not to remand a claim but to remand a specific remedy—and neither the text of 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) nor the policies underlying CAFA supported such claim-splitting. The District Court here noted that the plaintiff also sought to remand a particular form of relief, not a standalone claim. It found that permitting two similar lawsuits to go forward—one in the federal court for damages, and a second, otherwise identical, suit in state court for an injunction—would produce immense inefficiencies, and would also violate the California’s primary rights doctrine, which provided that a violation of a single primary right gives rise to but a single cause of action.
The plaintiff urged the Court to adopt the reasoning of Machlan v. Procter & Gamble Co., 77 F.Supp.3d 954 (N.D. Cal. 2015), where the court remanded the plaintiff’s request for injunctive relief under “principles of fairness and comity.” The Court here, citing Cabral, stated that Congress already considered the “principles of fairness and comity” when it passed CAFA, and it was not for it to second-guess Congress’s judgment.
Accordingly, the District Court denied the plaintiff’s motion to remand.
–Barry A. McCain