Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau, Inc. v. Hotels.com, No. 06-207, 2006 WL 1793583 (N.D. Ind. June 27, 2006).
The defendants did not have any travel difficulties removing this case to federal court because the case was initially filed in federal court by the plaintiffs. Defendants are usually the ones trying to remain in federal court, but here, the Lake County Convention and Visitors Bureau and Marshall County, invoked CAFA and traditional diversity jurisdiction when suing a host of defendants, including a long list of Internet travel sites.
Judge Philip P. Simon of the Northern District of Indiana is wondering whether plaintiffs belong in federal court. Considering federal jurisdiction under regular diversity standards as well as the Class Action Fairness Act, Judge Simon asked plaintiffs to cough up details about the citizenship of the defendants and the aggregate value of the class’ claims.
Plaintiffs could be out of luck either way. Under traditional diversity standards, plaintiffs must demonstrate complete diversity between them and every defendant. That could be a tall order, given that they sued some limited liability companies (Orbitz is one). Judge Simon said that “all the members of the LLC must be identified and their citizenship must be determined.”
Wait, there’s more. Plaintiffs sued Travelocity.com, L.P. and the judge said that limited partnerships are treated as citizens of “every state of which any partner or member is a citizen.” That means finding out the citizenship of the limited partners and that of the general partners of the limited partnership, the judge said.
Come back with the answers, the judge ordered. We imagine at that point in the proceedings Travelocity’s Roaming Gnome shouted, "You will never roam alone !"
Turning to plaintiffs’ bid to assert federal jurisdiction under CAFA, the judge asked plaintiffs to come up with more information to determine whether their aggregate claims satisfy the law’s $5 million amount in controversy requirement. Diversity under CAFA’s more relaxed standards is not a problem, the judge explained, noting that one representative plaintiff is diverse from several defendants, let along one named defendant, as required by the statute. However, the plaintiffs did not address the $5 million amount in controversy in their complaint.
We expect that there will be a sequel to this trip. Also, we understand that the Garden Gnome Liberation Front is watching this case closely.