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Liberty Mutual First Insurance Co. v. EZ-Flo International, Inc.

United States District Court, C.D. California

May 3, 2017

Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Company, et al.
v.
EZ-Flo International, Inc., et al.

          Present: The Honorable Michael W. Fitzgerald, U.S. District Judge.

          CIVIL MINUTES-GENERAL

         Proceedings (In Chambers): ORDER RE PLAINTIFFS' MOTION TO REMAND [11]

         Before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand, filed on March 6, 2017. (“the Motion, ” Docket No. 11). Defendant filed an Opposition to the Motion and Plaintiffs filed a Reply. (Docket Nos. 26-27).

         The Court held a hearing on the Motion on May 1, 2017, and now GRANTS the motion. The Second Amended Complaint (“SAC”) does not include more than 100 named plaintiffs, such that jurisdiction is unavailable under CAFA's “mass action” provision. (Docket No. 1-1).

         I. BACKGROUND

         This case involves claims by Plaintiffs-insurance companies acting as subrogees of their insureds-against Defendant EZ-Flo International concerning defects in Defendant's water supply lines, which are used to transport water from a water supply pipe to a plumbing fixture. (SAC ¶ 1).

         In the first action, two insurance companies filed suit on December 26, 2013, against Defendant. The two companies were acting as subrogees of one insured and sought only $412, 000. (Declaration of Michael J. Hassen, ¶ 2 (Docket No. 26-1)). On August 13, 2015, the other insurance-company Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in a second action against Defendant, acting as subrogees of 111 homeowners for claims totaling $4, 233, 714.81. (Id.). The two cases were consolidated by the Superior Court on September 2, 2015, though the Superior Court did not clarify whether the consolidation was for pretrial purposes only. (Id. ¶ 4).

         Plaintiffs in the second action filed their First Amended Complaint on February 11, 2016, seeking monetary relief as subrogees for 112 homeowners for claims totaling $4, 714, 824.82. (Id. ¶ 7). Defendant filed a demurrer, which was sustained only as to the claims of three homeowners. (Id. ¶ 9). Following this demurrer, the two suits sought a combined $4, 987, 351.62. (Id. ¶ 11).

         On January 20, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint, seeking monetary relief as subrogees for 145 homeowners for claims totaling $6, 588, 979.71. (Id. ¶ 14). Defendant's Notice of Removal was then filed on February 7, 2017. (Docket No. 1).

         II. DISCUSSION

         A. Class Action Fairness Act

         Defendants' Notice of Removal asserts jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). (Notice of Removal at 1). Under CAFA, the Court has “original jurisdiction of any civil action in which the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is a class action in which” there is minimal diversity. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).

         As relevant here, CAFA's “mass action” provision provides for federal jurisdiction in non-class action cases that involve “monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons” that are “proposed to be tried jointly . . . .” 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(A), (B).

         “[N]o antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of certain class actions in federal court.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 554 (2014) (holding that a defendant's notice of removal under 28 U.S.C. ยง 1446(a) need include only ...


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