In re Katrina Canal Breaches Litigation, No. 05-4182, 2006 WL 2256995, (E.D.La. July 19, 2006)(consolidated Katrina canal breach litigation decision pertaining to O’Dwyer, et al. v. The United States of America, et al., C.A. 05-4181). Katrina wrought havoc with the Gulf South and let loose a flood of litigation. These plaintiffs (none of whom are reported to look like Randy Newman or to hate short people) sued nearly everyone up and down the governmental ladder, but they were unable to use CAFA to get a toehold in federal court. The district court held that this case should be washed out of federal court and "clear down to Plaquemines."
After 11 amended complaints, Judge Stanwood R. Duval, Jr. of the Eastern District of Louisiana seemed to be out of patience. He expressed disapproval of plaintiffs’ kitchen-sink approach to pleading, saying “[p]laintiffs’ wholesale list of federal jurisdictional grounds borders on the absurd . . . .” In addition to CAFA, plaintiffs invoked a host of civil rights provisions, environmental laws, and the U.S. Constitution, including the Second Amendment (the right to bear arms??? Now that is some creative pleading.)
The action is part of consolidated litigation about Hurricane Katrina canal breaches. Judge Duval had on his plate a series of motions to dismiss a list of defendants that included New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco.
As far as CAFA is concerned, Judge Duval concluded that the action is too local to stay in federal court. Relying on 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(d)(4)(B), Judge Duval noted that dismissal is mandatory because “more than two-thirds of the proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate and the primary defendants are citizens of Louisiana, the state in which this action was filed.” Even if dismissal was not required under that CAFA provision, Judge Duval observed that he had discretion to abstain based on 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(d)(3), given Louisiana’s ties to the action. Plaintiffs also lost out under 28 U.S.C.A. § 1332(d)(5), Judge Duval noted, explaining that section eliminates CAFA jurisdiction over actions where States, State officials, or other governmental entities are primary defendants. So, the kitchen-sink effort to get into federal court using CAFA and other grounds goes down the drain (with the floodwaters).