United States District Court, Central District of California
Isabel Vasquez, et al.
Johnson & Johnson, et al.
ORDER (1) DENYING AS MOOT DEFENDANTS’ MOTION TO STAY (DOC. NO. 11); (2) GRANTING PLAINTIFFS’ MOTION TO REMAND (DOC. NO. 19); (3) REMANDING THE ACTION TO THE SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, COUNTY OF LOS ANGELES; AND (4) VACATING THE NOVEMBER 17, 2014, HEARING (IN CHAMBERS)
JESUS G. BERNAL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Before the Court are Defendants’ Motion to Stay (Doc. No. 11) and Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 19). The Court finds these matters appropriate for resolution without a hearing. See Fed.R.Civ.P. 78; L.R. 7-15. After considering the papers timely filed in support of and in opposition to the motions, the Court GRANTS Plaintiffs’ Motion to Remand and DENIES AS MOOT Defendants’ Motion to Stay. The November 17, 2014, hearing on the motions is VACATED.
On February 13, 2014, ninety-five individual Plaintiffs filed a complaint in state court against Defendants Johnson & Johnson, Ethicon, Inc., Ethicon, LLC, and Does 1 through 500, inclusive (collectively, “Defendants”). (“Compl., ” Doc. No. 1-1, Ex. A). The Complaint alleges that Plaintiffs suffered a variety of injuries from the surgical implantation of pelvic mesh devices designed, tested, manufactured, marketed, sold, and distributed by Defendants. (Compl. ¶¶ 1, 138-75).
On April 16, 2014, Defendants removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. (Not. of Removal ¶ 4, Doc. No. 1). On June 18, 2014, the Court remanded the action to the Los Angeles County Superior Court, finding that there was not complete diversity among Plaintiffs and Defendants and thus the Court lacked diversity jurisdiction over this action, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See Isabel Vasquez, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., CV 14-2915 JGB (SPx), slip op. at 3, 8 (C.D. Cal. August 6, 2014).
On August 22, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Petition for Coordination, requesting that the California Superior Court consider coordination of this action with other similar actions. (“Petition, ” Defs.’ Mot. to Stay, Doc. No. 11-3, Ex. B). Specifically, the Petition requested the coordination of this action with three other California Superior Court cases: Violet Rappuchi, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., Case No. BC536366; Maria Baron, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., Case No. 30-2014-00706561-CU-PL-CXC; and Lourdes Heredia, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., Case No. 30-2014-00706619-CU-PL-CXC. (Petition at 4-5). Plaintiffs sought coordination pursuant to California Code of Civil Procedure § 404 and California Rules of Court 3.521, et seq. (Petition at 1). Defendants were served with the Petition on August 26, 2014. (Decl. of Joshua J. Wes ¶ 4, Doc. No. 2).
On September 22, 2014, Defendants again removed this action asserting federal court jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). (Not. of Removal ¶¶ 9, 26, Doc. No. 1). Defendants also removed the three related actions from California Superior Court; those cases were also assigned to this Court. See Violet Rappuchi, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., CV 14-7392 JGB (SPx); Lourdes Heredia, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., SACV 14-1530 JGB (SPx); Maria Baron, et al. v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., SACV 14-1531 JGB (SPx).
On October 3, 2014, Defendants filed a Motion to Stay this case, pending disposition of the Ninth Circuit’s en banc proceedings in Romo v. Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., No. 13-56310. (“MTS” at 1, Doc. No. 11). Plaintiffs opposed on October 9, 2014. (“MTS Opp’n, ” Doc. No. 16). Defendants filed their Reply on October 16, 2014. (“MTS Reply, ” Doc. No. 18).
On October 17, 2014, Plaintiffs filed a Motion to Remand this case to state court, contending that removal pursuant to CAFA is improper. (“MTR, ” Doc. No. 19). On October 27, 2014, Defendants filed an Opposition to the Motion to Remand. (“MTR Opp’n, ” Doc. No. 20). Plaintiffs replied on November 3, 2014. (“MTR Reply, ” Doc. No. 21).
II. LEGAL STANDARD
The United States Supreme Court has held that a court has discretion to stay an action as part of its efforts to efficiently manage the cases on its docket. See Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-55 (1936) (“[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.”); Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980 F.Supp. 1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997) (“Whether or not to grant a stay is within the court’s discretion and it is appropriate when it serves the interests of judicial economy and efficiency.”); Luu v. Allstate Ins. Co., No. 5:11-cv-01523 EJD, 2011 WL 3360040, at *1 (N.D. Cal. Aug. 2, 2011). When considering whether to grant a stay, a court properly assesses the competing interests involved, including any harm that might result from staying a case, any hardship that a party might suffer if the stay is denied, and whether a stay would serve to simplify “the issues, proof, and questions of law.” See CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962).
The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”) grants the district courts original jurisdiction over “mass actions.” See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(A). A “mass action” is “any civil action . . . in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly on the ground that the plaintiffs’ claims involve common questions of law or fact.” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(i). However, a mass action may include only those plaintiffs who are diverse from defendants and whose claims involve over $75, 000 in controversy. Id .; 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Moreover, a mass action ...