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Jou v. Kimberly-Clark Corporation

United States District Court, N.D. California

July 27, 2015

DIANNA JOU, Plaintiff,
v.
KIMBERLY-CLARK CORPORATION, et al., Defendants.

ORDER DENYING MOTION TO INTERVENE Re: Dkt. No. 63

JACQUELINE SCOTT CORLEY, Magistrate Judge.

This putative class action has been terminated since April 22, 2015, when the sole remaining named plaintiff filed a notice of voluntary dismissal. (Dkt. Nos. 60-62.) Now pending before the Court is Veronica Brenner's motion for leave to intervene as plaintiff pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24. (Dkt. No. 63.) Defendants Kimberly-Clark Corporation, Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc., and Kimberly-Clark Global Sales, LLC (collectively "Defendants") contend that the Court lacks jurisdiction to permit intervention and, in any event, intervention is not warranted because Brenner fails to meet the requirements of Rule 24. Having considered the parties' submissions, and having had the benefit of oral argument on June 18, 2015, the Court DENIES Brenner's motion to intervene.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiffs Dianna Jou and Jaynry Young ("Plaintiffs") filed this putative class action individually and on behalf of similarly situated individuals on July 3, 2013 alleging that Defendants misrepresented their Huggies Natural Diapers as "pure & natural" and their Huggies Natural Wipes as providing "natural care." (Dkt. No. 1-1 ¶¶ 2-5.) Plaintiffs alleged the Court had original subject-matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"). (Dkt. No. 1-1 ¶ 7.) The complaint alleged five causes of action: (1) unfair and deceptive acts and practices in violation of the California Consumers Legal Remedies Act, (2) violations of California's False Advertising Law, (3) violations of California's Environmental Marketing Claims Act, (4) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law, and (5) violation of the Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act. (Dkt. No. 1-1 ¶¶ 59-96.)

In December 2013, the Court granted in part and denied in part Defendants' motion to dismiss. (Dkt. No. 42.) Specifically, Defendants' motion was granted as to (1) Plaintiffs' lack of standing to pursue injunctive relief, and (2) Plaintiffs' claims to the extent that they alleged that the "pure & natural" diapers are likely to misrepresent to a reasonable consumer that they are made entirely of organic cotton, and (3) Plaintiffs' Wisconsin Deceptive Trade Practices Act claim. ( Id. at 22.) The remaining claims proceeded.

The Court issued pre-trial and amended pre-trial orders in February 2014. (Dkt. Nos. 47, 48.) Later that month, the parties engaged in mediation. ( See Dkt. No. 49.) After the exchange of at least some discovery, in July 2014, Young filed a stipulation to dismiss with prejudice pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(ii). (Dkt. Nos. 54.) Jou followed suit nine months later, filing her own Rule 41(a)(1)(A)(ii) stipulation to dismiss with prejudice in April 2015. (Dkt. Nos. 60-62.) All claims having been dismissed, the Clerk of Court closed the case on April 22, 2015.

Fifteen days later, on May 7, 2015, Brenner moved to intervene. (Dkt. No. 63.) Brenner seeks leave to intervene as a matter of right pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(a), and in the alternative, seeks permissive intervention pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 24(b).[1] (Dkt. No. 63 at 2.) If permitted to intervene, Brenner would bring many of the causes of action that Plaintiffs alleged: (1) violation of California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act, (2) violation of California's False Advertising Law, (3) violation of California's Environmental Marketing Claims Act, and (4) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law.[2] (Dkt. No. 1-1 ¶¶ 59-90; Dkt. No. 63 at 13-14.) Brenner would also bring three new claims that were not part of Plaintiffs' pleading: (1) violation of the Magnuson-Moss Warranty Act, (2) Breach of Express Warranty, and (3) violation of Florida's Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act. (Dkt. No. 63-2 ¶¶ 87-115.) Further, unlike Plaintiffs, Brenner seeks to create a new sub-class consisting of Florida residents. (Dkt. No. 63-2 ¶ 50.) Brenner contends that she independently satisfies diversity jurisdiction pursuant to CAFA, federal question jurisdiction under the Magnuson-Moss Act, and supplemental jurisdiction for state law claims pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1367. (Dkt. No. 63 at 11.)

The Court heard oral argument on the motion on June 18, 2015. Both parties have since filed supplemental briefing on the question of whether there is any basis under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 60(b) to reopen this closed case and entertain Brenner's motion. (Dkt. Nos. 72, 73.)

DISCUSSION

I. Jurisdiction

A. Legal Standard

Before considering the merits of a motion to intervene, the Court must determine if it has jurisdiction to consider the motion in the first place. See Hernandez v. Campbell, 204 F.3d 861, 865 (9th Cir. 2000). A court has "a continuing obligation to assess its own subject-matter jurisdiction, " Allstate Ins. Co. v. Hughes, 358 F.3d 1089, 1093 (9th Cir. 2004), and the court "may not entertain an action over which it has no jurisdiction." Hernandez, 204 F.3d at 865 (citation omitted). The burden to demonstrate proper subject matter jurisdiction lies with the party seeking to invoke federal jurisdiction-here, the putative intervenor. See Richard & Sheila J. McKnight 2000 Family Trust v. Barkett, No. 2:10-cv-01617-RCJ-GWF, 2012 WL 3231000, at *4 (D. Nev. Aug. 3, 2012).

It is well settled that "federal courts may act only in the context of a justiciable case or controversy." Sec. & Exch. Comm'n v. Med. Comm. for Human Rights, 404 U.S. 403, 407 (1972) (internal quotations & citation removed). A case that no longer presents a live controversy is moot and must be dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. See Pub. Utilities Comm'n v. Fed. Energy Regulatory Comm'n, 100 F.3d 1451, 1458 (9th Cir. 1996). If there is a justiciable case or controversy before a federal court, the court must determine if ...


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