Baldwin v. Monier Lifetile, L.L.C., No. 05-1058, 2005 WL 3334344 (D. Ariz. Dec. 7, 2005).
In this putative class action intitally filed in Arizona state court and removed under the minimal diversity provisions of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, an Arizona federal judge remanded the litigation, finding a lack of subject matter jurisdiction based on the failure of the pleadings to reveal the true citizenship of the parties on either side of the case.
Owners of Arizona residential and commercial property brought their class action complaint against Monier Lifetile, L.L.C., in Arizona state court, filed after the enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, for property loss and personal injuries linked to the company’s defective roof tiles, claiming a probable class membership of some 5,000 people. Monier removed the action, citing traditional diversity jurisdiction as well as the newly available minimal diversity jurisdiction under CAFA. Monier alleged that plaintiffs Baldwin and Williams were “residents of Arizona,” which the court said was a failure to allege that they were “citizens of Arizona.” “Neither the Plaintiffs’ Complaint or [sic] the Defendant’s Notice of Removal allege adequate facts to enable this Court to determine the state of citizenship of the Plaintiffs or the Defendants,” the court declared.
Pointing out that the complaint alleged simply that plaintiffs owned property in Arizona, the court noted that neither side made any allegations regarding “domicile, residency or citizenship,” the latter being the key to establishing diversity jurisdiction. The defendant’s contention that it was a Delaware limited liability company with a principal place of business in California did not establish diversity jurisdiction, either, the court concluded, noting that “an LLC is not, without more, a citizen of the state that created the entity.” The court ruled that the defendant LLC was obliged to allege the citizenship of each of its members or partners, and noted that the pleadings of both the plaintiffs and the defendant failed to reveal even the minimum diversity necessary for federal jurisdiction for this class action under CAFA, or under the “complete diversity of citizenship” standard applicable to other cases, remanding the case back to state court.
Editor’s Note: This case is a good example of the strict construction of removal pleadings followed by some courts. While the court does not discuss the burden of proof in the remand context in this case, it seems that the remand could have easily been avoided by more specific pleadings, particularly by the defendant.