Banh v. USPlabs, LLC, 2015 WL 5012568 (C.D. Cal. July 23, 2015)

The District Court for the Central District of California granted a motion to remand in Banh v. USPlabs, LLC, one of sixteen cases that had been consolidated for purposes of discovery in California state court before being removed under CAFA’s mass action provision.

Those sixteen cases, brought on behalf of 129 separate plaintiffs, were joined in Los Angeles County Superior Court in In re JCCP 4808, USPlabs Dietary Supplement Cases. The plaintiffs in those cases petitioned for coordination under California Code of Civil Procedure § 404 and requested assignment of one pre-trial judge to determine whether “coordination for discovery” into one proceeding was appropriate.

The defendants removed the actions pursuant to CAFA’s “mass action” provision, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11). In response, the plaintiffs in Banh v. USPlabs, LLC sought remand for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because the mass action requirements had not been satisfied. Specifically, plaintiffs argued that their petition sought coordination solely for pretrial proceedings, precluding mass action jurisdiction. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(ii)(IV) (excluding actions in which “the claims have been consolidated or coordinated solely for pretrial proceedings”).

The Court agreed with the plaintiff and granted the motion to remand. In contrast with Corber v. Xanodyne Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 771 F.3d 1218, 1220 (9th Cir.2014), in which the Ninth Circuit held that CAFA’s mass action provision provided jurisdiction to cases coordinated under California Code of Civil Procedure § 404 “for all purposes,” the Court found that the plaintiffs’ petition in Banh sought coordination for pretrial purposes only. The Court noted that the plaintiffs’ petition did not use any of the phrases at issue in Corber, including “for all purposes”, and thus it was reasonable to conclude that the plaintiffs sought coordination for pretrial purposes only and not for a joint trial as required by the mass action provision. The Court therefore held that jurisdiction requirements under CAFA were not met, and accordingly, granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand.

– Kevin Lampone