Redd v. Suntrup Hyundai, Inc., No. 09CV411MLM (E.D. Mo. Aug. 28, 2009) and Tonnies v. Southland Imports, Inc., No. 09CV414SNLJ (E.D. Mo. Sept. 29, 2009).

Sometimes you don’t need to argue the kitchen sink, but, then again, you might need to wash dishes. This pair of opinions from the Eastern District of Missouri illustrates that proving the domicile of class members to meet CAFA’s “home state” exception (28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)) can involve some strange evidence. 

In each case, after the defendants removed under CAFA, the plaintiffs sought remand through the “home state” exception. The plaintiffs showed that more than 70% of the putative class members in each case had last known addresses in Missouri, the state of the defendants’ citizenship. Given census data showing Missouri’s “out-migration rate” of 8.3% from 1995-2000, the plaintiffs claimed that more than two-thirds of the proposed classes were from Missouri. 

The district court accepted the last known addresses as sufficient evidence of the citizenship of the proposed class members when the lawsuits were filed.The district court distinguished Preston v. Tenet Healthsystem Memorial Medical Center, Inc., No. 07-30132 (5th Cir. 2007), in which the Fifth Circuit found that medical records showing treatment at a specific hospital did not reflect residency. (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Preston posted on June 5, 2007). Unlike Preston, which was limited by a unique set of circumstances following Hurricane Katrina, the defendant here did nothing to rebut the evidence of last known addresses. The opinions suggest that the defendants should have shown a “mass exodus” from Missouri.

In the Redd case, the district court felt it was “too great a leap” to apply the census statistics for a period beginning thirteen years prior to the lawsuit. In the Tonnies case, however, the district court judicially noticed the data and found that it showed that the class members were citizens of Missouri as well as residents of Missouri because it showed that most Missouri residents were also citizens.

Just in case that wasn’t enough to support the remand, the district court, in each opinion, cushioned its decisions by declining jurisdiction under CAFA’s permissive considerations (28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(3)).

(Editors’ Note:  See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of the earlier Redd decision posted on September 4, 2009).