Wednesday, July 3, 2013
The Legal Intelligencer reports that a Pennsylvania lower court has upheld the statutory $500,000 limit on damages awards against governmental entities, reducing a $14 million award to a plaintiff for loss of her leg, and setting the stage for a constitutional challenge to the damages cap in the Pennsylvania Supreme Court.
Tuesday, July 2, 2013
In Scimone v. Carnival Corp., No. 13-12291 (11th Cir., July 1, 2013), two groups of 56 and 48 plaintiffs filed suit in Florida state court for damages arising out of the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy in 2012. Defendant Carnival removed the actions to federal court, alleging diversity jurisdiction under CAFA's mass action section, 28 USC 1332(d)(11) ("'mass action' means any civil action . . . in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly . . . ").
The district court granted plaintiffs' motions to remand, and the Eleventh Circuit affirmed, distinguishing Standard Fire v. Knowles. "Under the plain language of CAFA . . ., the district court lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the plaintiffs' two separate actions unless they proposed to try 100 or more persons' claims jointly."
Monday, July 1, 2013
Today the U.S. Supreme Court announced that Scott Harris has been appointed to be the twentieth Clerk of the U.S. Supreme Court, effective September 1. Congratulations!
Coincidentally, the new Clerk’s first and last names are the lead parties of a fairly recent Supreme Court merits decision. Readers will recall Scott v. Harris, 550 U.S. 372 (2007), the summary-judgment-by-car-chase-video case. (You can see the video here.)
Plaintiff filed a state-law wage-and-hour class action in California state court on April 27, 2011. Plaintiff and an added plaintiff filed a first amended complaint on May 24, 2012, adding a new defendant, CHA.
On September 4, 2012, CHA and the other defendants removed the action, alleging diversity jurisdiction under CAFA "based on the diverse citizenship of one would-be class member" and an amount in controversy in excess of $5 million. The would-be class member submitted a declaration that she had moved to Nevada in late 2011, intending to live in Nevada for the foreseeable future. (Although the opinion did not say, apparently all the defendants and all of the other class members are California citizens.)
The district court granted plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court. The Ninth Circuit reversed. The court implicitly assumed that the defendants had shown diversity jurisdiction under CAFA and focused solely on the timing of the notice of removal. Although the 30-day period for removal under 28 USC 1446(b)(3) had passed (if counted from the filing of the First Amended Complaint), the FAC had not explicitly contained information showing diversity of citizenship. Using their superior knowledge of the whereabouts of employee class members, the defendants had found the Nevada citizen on their own.
The court noted that plaintiffs could protect themselves from gamesmanship by providing to the defendant "a document from which removability may be ascertained," which will trigger the 30-day removal period. The court also noted that this case still might be remanded under CAFA's local controversy exception. Roth v. CHA Hollywood Medical Center, L.P., No. 13-55771 (June 27, 2013).
Here is the opinion in The Authors Guild, Inc. v. Google Inc. The opinion begins:
We consider in this appeal whether the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (Denny Chin, Circuit Judge, sitting by designation) erred in certifying the plaintiff class—authors claiming that defendant-appellant Google Inc. committed copyright infringement by copying and displaying “snippets” of millions of books in the Library Project of its Google Books search tool. On the particular facts of this case, we conclude that class certification was premature in the absence of a determination by the District Court of the merits of Google’s “fair use” defense. Accordingly, we vacate the June 11, 2012 order certifying the class and remand the cause to the District Court, for consideration of the fair use issues, without prejudice to any future motion for class certification.