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Baker v. Fresenius USA, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

February 26, 2015

Jeretha Baker, et al.
v.
Fresenius USA, Inc., et al.

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

JESUS G. BERNAL, Chief District Judge.

Proceedings: Order (1) DENYING Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (Doc. No. 16); and (2) VACATING the March 2, 2015, Hearing (IN CHAMBERS)

Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand. (Doc. No. 16.) The Court finds this matter 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 motion, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand and VACATES the March 2, 2015, hearing.

I. BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Jeretha Baker and forty-nine other individual named plaintiffs (collectively "Plaintiffs") filed their Complaint against Defendants Fresenius USA, Inc., Fresenius USA Manufacturing, Inc., Fresenius Medical Care Holdings, Inc., Fresenius Medical Care North America, Inc., Fresenius USA Marketing, Inc., Walter L. Weisman, Ben Lipps, and fictitious persons (collectively, "Defendants") in the Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles, on June 27, 2014. ("Compl., " Not. of Removal, Ex. A, Doc. No. 1-2.) The Complaint asserted products liability claims related to personal injuries and death resulting from the use of Defendants' products "GranuFlo Dry Acid Concentrate" and "NaturaLyte Liquid Acid Concentrate." (Compl. ¶¶ 1-3.)

Numerous other "GranuFlo/NaturaLyte" cases were also filed in California state courts, and, on January 21, 2013, plaintiffs in four of those cases filed a petition for coordination with the Chair of the California Judicial Counsel. ("Pet. to Coordinate, " Declaration of Bahar Dejban ("Dejban Decl."), Ex. B, Doc. No. 18-3.) The four cases in which the plaintiffs sought to be coordinated into the judicial council coordinated proceedings ("JCCP") were Sanchez, et al. v. Fresenius USA, Inc., et al., Case No. BC499080, Hobbs, et al. v. Fresenius USA, Inc., et al., Case No. 13CECG00161, Frazee, et al. v. Fresenius USA, Inc., et al., Case No. 37-2013-00030004-CU-PL-CTL, and Rollins, et al. v. Fresenius USA, Inc., et al., Case No. 250199. (Id. at 1.) The petition was approved and the JCCP created on March 20, 2013. (Opp'n at 3.)

On July 16, 2014, the fifty Baker Plaintiffs filed a request to coordinate their claims into the JCCP. ("Baker Petition, " Dejban Decl., Ex. C.) The JCCP court granted the Baker Petition on August 14, 2104, after which this case was coordinated into the JCCP, and the total number of plaintiffs in the coordinated cases exceeded one hundred plaintiffs. (Stern Decl. ¶ 3.)

On December 1, 2014, the JCCP coordination trial judge approved the parties' stipulation to select the claims of only four plaintiffs for discovery and trial; the trials would involve a single plaintiff per trial. (Dejban Decl., Ex. D.)

Defendants filed their Notice of Removal on December 18, 2014. ("Not. of Removal, " Doc. No. 1.) Plaintiffs moved to remand on January 20, 2015.[1] ("Motion, " Doc. No. 16.) Defendants filed their opposition on February 9, 2015. ("Opp'n, " Doc. No. 17.)

II. LEGAL STANDARD

The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA") grants the district courts original jurisdiction over "mass actions" in the same manner as if they were "class 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 does not include cases in which "the claims have been consolidated or coordinated solely for pretrial proceedings." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(ii)(IV). Similar to a "class action, " a federal district court has jurisdiction over a "mass action" if the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $5, 000, 000 and the parties are minimally diverse. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), 1332(d)(11)(A).

Under CAFA, "the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction remains... on the proponent of federal jurisdiction." Abrego Abrego v. The Dow Chem. Co., 443 F.3d 676, 685 (9th Cir. 2006). In ordinary removal cases, a presumption against removal jurisdiction may be appropriate and "[f]ederal jurisdiction... rejected if there is any doubt as to the right of removal." Gaus v. Miles, 980 F.2d 564, 566 (9th Cir. 1992) (internal citations omitted). However, "no antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of certain class actions in federal court." Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014).

III. DISCUSSION

A. Removal as ...


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