“U-Haul Me Into Federal Court For Dis? Trict You, Go Back To Superior Court!” or,

“I’d Rather Sua Sponte Than Have U-Haul Me Into Federal Court!” or,

“Districter Da Time Limit, Da Better Da Denial” or,

“If You Seek A U-Haul, Appeal Back This Leave, Remand Order Me Around” or,

“Dissent The Same Mr. Roger’s Nay-borhood U-(H)aul Watched As Kids” or,

“However U Parse Me, Sage, (Rosemary, and) Timely Appeal!”

In Re:  U-Haul International, Inc., No. 08-7122 (D.C. Cir. 4/6/09)

Remember those old Rocky and Bullwinkle cartoons? Remember how at the end of each episode the announcer would preview the upcoming episode? Remember how he would always give it two titles? And remember how neither of those titles were ever the actual title when the upcoming episode finally aired? Well, the CAFA Law Blog is like those episodes: lots of titles, none of which have much to do with the subject case (except for a few silly puns formed from words found in the opinion).   

In this fractured fairy-tale, the U.S. Court of Appeals, District of Columbia Circuit was ordering and adjudging and per curiam-ing; the U-Haul rented by the plaintiff was breaking down; the clock was ticking; and Judge Rogers was dissenting from the denial of the petition for leave to appeal the district court’s order remanding the case back to the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. Phew. No more run-ons. 

Speaking of run-ons, this whole thing started when a U-Haul truck rented by the plaintiff, Michael Margolis< would not do just that: it would not run on. To the contrary, the darn thing broke down…twice. Failing to find himself a good mechanic or any sense of personal responsibility, Mr. Margolis did what any good American would do in his situation: he sued! But who to sue? As he pondered this, he looked up, and saw in big, black, sans-serif font, “U-Haul.” U-reka! 

And so began the Rocky adventure entitled, “Mr. Margolis Goes to Washington (to sue U-Haul under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act, on behalf of himself and similarly-situated purchasers in D.C.).” He described his complaint as a non-class representative action, or a private attorney general action on behalf of the general public. The general public? And to think that the author of this post pegged the plaintiff as lacking personal responsibility! Nay, it appears he not only looks out for himself, but for the general public of the D.C. area! 

And all he requested from U-Haul was a mere pittance, namely: treble damages (“treble” means “triple” in non-auditory terms); punitive damages (“punitive” means “relating to punishment,” and not “relating to being puny or small,” as the author had previously thought up to this point); attorneys’ fees and costs (“attorneys” means “lawyers,” not to be confused with “O’Blarney’s,” a favorite pub of the author of this post, which serves a delicious drink called the “Irish Car Bomb,” concocted of a shot of Jameson Irish Whiskey, topped off with Bailey’s Irish Cream, dropped in a half pint of Guinness. [Author’s note: this drink likely contributed to the author’s inability to correctly define words such as “punitive.”]; and any other relief as the court may deem proper. 

For the general public, Mr. Civic Duty requests…..[drum roll]…….injunctive relief.   To think that all this time, the author thought that the general public of Washington D.C. knew how to relieve themselves! 

U-Haul responded to these requests with a vehement “ZZZZZZZZ.” It appears that the exhaustiveing list of requested relief had lolled the trucking company into a deep slumber (lol)! After being roused from slumber, U-Haul lazily requested the case be removed to federal district court, stating, “we remove this case to federal court, cuz it’s a class action under CAFA, or something.” Not pleased with U-Haul’s determination that the federal court had subject matter jurisdiction over the case, the district court remanded the case back to D.C. Superior Court. Jived the court, “This ain’t no CAFA case, fool. This ain’t even no class action!” (Author’s note: liberty was taken to paraphrase the court’s language).

Enough about the background facts and procedural history. It is now time to address what the dissenting judge had to say about federal court’s denial of U-Haul’s petition for leave to appeal the remand order. First, Judge Rogers deemed U-Haul’s application timely, being submitted only four days after the entry of the district court’s remand. As a reward for its punctuality, she gave U-Haul a cookie. She also gave one to the federal court for a similar reason: the court acted within the 60-day time limit required for appellate proceedings under CAFA. Woohoo! Kudos to all.

After much congratulating, back-slapping, and cookie-giving to both U-Haul and her own court, there remained but one question: whether the plaintiff’s complaint could proceed as a non-class representative action under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act. 

Such a question required certification by D.C.’s highest court. Given that the 60-day time limit for appellate proceedings would not be enough time to receive a response from D.C. Superior Court, she concluded that the appeal should be denied. This would give the District of Columbia courts enough time to decide whether Mr. Margolis’ complaint could proceed as a non-class representative action under the D.C. Consumer Protection Procedures Act.

And so concludes the uneventful tale of Mr. Margolis and U-Haul.

What a bunch of Bullwinkle (author thought he might be able to squeeze in one last pun, no matter how ill-fitting it may be). 

By: Charles S. Smith