Pudlowski v. St. Louis Rams, LLC, 2016 WL 3902660 (8th Cir. July 19, 2016).

The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit (the “Eighth Circuit”) reversed an order remanding the action to the Missouri State Court (“State Court”), finding that the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri (the “District Court”) erred by declining to consider defendants’ post removal affidavits. The Eighth Circuit reasoned that the notice of removal need not be accompanied by a submission of evidence, but rather, evidence can be submitted later in response to a request by the plaintiffs or the court.

The class of plaintiffs brought an action against the St. Louis Rams, LLC and other associated entities (collectively the “Rams”) in the State Court for violating the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act.  The plaintiffs’ claims concern the  relocation of the Rams to Los Angeles, California.  The Rams removed the action to the federal court under CAFA.  The plaintiffs moved to remand arguing that the action lacked minimal diversity.  The Rams submitted two postremoval affidavits to demonstrate diversity.  The District Court remanded the action, expressly declining to consider the affidavits because they were not included as part of the Rams’ notice of removal.  The Rams appealed to the Eighth Circuit.

At the very outset, the Eighth Circuit stated that the Rams properly removed the case to federal court by filing a notice of removal “containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1446(a).  The Eight Circuit went on stating that a defendant is not required to submit evidence establishing federal jurisdiction with its notice of removal unless the plaintiff or the court questions the defendant’s claim of jurisdiction.  The Eighth Circuit noted that the District Court interpreted the rule that a federal court’s jurisdiction is measured “at the time of removal” to preclude it from considering postremoval evidence.

The Eighth Circuit observed that while it is true that jurisdiction is measured at the time of removal, this merely meant that the facts arising subsequent to removal have no bearing on a court’s jurisdictional determination. The Eighth Circuit remarked that where issues arise as to jurisdiction or venue, discovery is available to ascertain the facts of such issues.

Ultimately, the Eighth Circuit found that the District Court abused its discretion by refusing to consider the affidavits on the ground that the Rams submitted them postremoval. Because the Rams’ notice of removal did not need to be accompanied by a submission of evidence, the Eighth Circuit concluded that the District Court abused its discretion in refusing to consider the affidavits.

Accordingly, the Eighth Circuit reversed and remanded the action.

-Mike Aleali