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Backus v. Conagra, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. California

April 18, 2017

TROY BACKUS, Plaintiff,
v.
CONAGRA FOODS, INC., Defendant.

          ORDER DENYING MOTION TO DISMISS FOR LACK OF SUBJECT-MATTER JURISDICTION

          WILLIAM ALSUP UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         In this action in connection with the use of trans fat in margarine products, defendant seeks to dismiss for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction following the denial of class certification. Defendant's motion is Denied.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiff Troy Backus filed this action in January 2016, alleging various claims for relief under California law for the use of trans fat in the margarine products of defendant ConAgra Foods, Inc., and ConAgra's alleged mislabeling of those products. In July 2016, all of Backus's claims were dismissed except one for mislabeling - for the phrase “The delicious taste of Fleischmann's enhances your favorite foods while maintaining your healthy lifestyle” - subject to an order for limited discovery to ascertain whether Backus had standing to bring that surviving claim (Dkt. No. 44). An October 2016 order found Backus established the requisite reliance and injury to assert his remaining mislabeling claim (Dkt. No. 55 at 2). Backus then moved for class certification of this final remaining claim. In December 2016, another order denied Backus's request for class certification (Dkt. No. 75).

         In light of the denial of class certification, all that remains is the state mislabeling claim as to Backus individually. ConAgra now moves to dismiss this single remaining claim for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction.

         This order follows full briefing, oral argument, and supplemental briefing.

         ANALYSIS

         All agree that when filed, this action enjoyed subject-matter jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act. The main issue now is whether the denial of class certification ousted subject-matter jurisdiction. United Steel v. Shell Oil, 602 F.3d 1087, 1091 (9th Cir. 2010), in a removal action, held that a denial of class certification does not divest federal courts of jurisdiction. ConAgra argues that United Steel only applies to actions removed to federal court, not those filed in federal court originally. Regardless of CAFA, however, both parties agree that supplemental jurisdiction may be exercised over the remaining state-law claim pursuant to Section 1367 of Title 28 of the United States Code.

         Supplemental jurisdiction attaches “in any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction” so long as the claims “are so related to claims in the action with such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy under Article III of the United States Constitution.” 28 U.S.C. 1367(a). Pursuant to Section 1367(c), the district courts may decline to exercise that supplemental jurisdiction if:

(1) the claim raises a novel or complex issue of State law,
(2) the claim substantially predominates over the claim or claims over which the district court has original jurisdiction,
(3) the district court has dismissed all claims over which it has original ...

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