Harris v. ITT Corp., No. CIV.A. 10-331-JJB, CV 10-333, CV 10-328, CV 10-334, CV 10-332, CV 10-335 (M.D. La. Oct. 04, 2010).

On the heels of the local controversy exception, a Louisiana Magistrate Judge recommends remand. The plaintiff voluntarily dismisses the out-of-state defendant and puts the exception in the gun sites of the judge. 

United States Magistrate Judge Stephen C. Riedlinger for the Middle District of Louisiana issued a Report and recommended that the District Court remand this action to state court holding that, with the out-of-state defendant dismissed, the action can be remanded under CAFA’s local controversy exception. 

The plaintiff filed a class action petition in state court claiming damages for an explosion and fire which occurred on March 30, 2010 at a business located in Livingston Parish, Louisiana. 

The defendant, Goulds Pumps, Inc., removed the action to federal court asserting subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA and the plaintiff moved to remand arguing that CAFA’s local controversy exception applied.

The plaintiff defined the proposed class as consisting of all persons who on March 30, 2010, were residents and/or property owners and/or business owners/invitees in the affected vicinity in Livingston Parish. The plaintiffs stated that the members of this class experienced fear and fright, property damage, physical discomfort or injury, evacuation or other damages including damages to animals as a result of the fire at Coco Resources and ITT Pro Services Warehouses.

Magistrate Judge Riedlinger noted that the plaintiff is a Louisiana citizen. The defendant, Goulds Pumps, is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in the state of New York. 

After removal, the plaintiff stipulated to the dismissal of defendant, Goulds Pumps. The sole remaining defendant, Coco Resources, Inc., is a Louisiana corporation. Coco Resources neither joined in nor consented to the removal.

The Magistrate Judge found that the circumstances described in §1332(d)(4)(B) for local controversy exception existed in this case because the class descriptions showed that more than two-thirds of the members of the proposed classes were Louisiana citizens, and the sole remaining defendant, Coco Resources, was also a Louisiana citizen. 

Consequently, the Magistrate Judge recommended that the District Court decline to exercise subject matter jurisdiction in this case.