Earlier this week, the Seventh Circuit issued a ruling in Lu Junhong v. Boeing Co. that defendants can remove cases to federal court under admiralty jurisdiction alone. The ruling may very well change the dynamics of mass tort filings in so-called “magnet jurisdictions” like Madison County and Cook County.

Junhong involved a group of Cook County cases from Asiana Airlines Flight 214. Two years ago, that Boeing 777 crashed into the seawall at San Francisco International Airport. The plane’s tail broke off, 49 persons suffered serious injuries, and three of the passengers died (the other 255 passengers and crew aboard suffered only minor or no injuries). Passengers sued Boeing in Illinois state court, alleging the plane’s systems were defective and contributed to the pilots’ errors. Boeing then removed the lawsuits to federal court, asserting two sources of jurisdiction: federal officer under § 1442 and general admiralty under § 1333.
Continue Reading Potential Game Changer: Admiralty Jurisdiction Serves As A Basis For Removal

On Monday, December 15, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that makes it easier for defendants to remove class actions to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens does so in three ways:

1.     A defendant’s Notice of Removal does not have to include evidentiary submissions to establish federal jurisdiction under CAFA.  A CAFA class action can be removed to federal court if the amount in controversy – i.e. value of the case – exceeds $5 million.  Under Dart, defendants need only make a “plausible allegation” that the value of the case satisfies this jurisdictional amount.  Evidence supporting the amount alleged is not required. This “plausible allegation” standard echoes the “short and plain statement” pleading standard in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). If neither the plaintiff nor the district court contests the defendant’s allegations regarding the amount in controversy, no “evidence” is necessary.  But if the allegations are contested, both sides submit proof, and the court will decide, by a preponderance of the evidence standard, whether the amount in controversy is met.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Eases Removal of CAFA Actions