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Pudlowski v. The St. Louis Rams, LLC

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

September 29, 2016

JAMES PUDLOWSKI, LOUIS C. CROSS, III, GAIL HENRY, and STEVE HENRY, on Behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
THE ST. LOUIS RAMS, LLC, THE ST. LOUIS RAMS PARTNERSHIP, and ITB FOOTBALL COMPANY, LLC, Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          RONNIE L. WHITE DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion and Memorandum in Support of Remand (ECF No. 27). This matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.

         LEGAL STANDARD

         Removal statutes are strictly construed, and any doubts about the correctness of removal are resolved in favor of state court jurisdiction and remand. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); In re Bus. Men's Assurance Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993); Manning v. Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc., 304 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1148 (E.D. Mo. 2004) (citing Transit Cas. Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of London, 119 F.3d 619, 625 (8th Cir. 1997)). A civil action brought in state court may be removed to the proper district court if the district court has original jurisdiction of the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).

         Under CAFA, federal district courts have original jurisdiction over class actions where there is 1) minimal diversity of citizenship among the parties; 2) there are at least 100 class members; and 3) the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2), (d)(5); Hargis v. Access Capital Funding, LLC, 674 F.3d 783, 788-89 (8th Cir. 2012); Westerfeld v. Indep. Processing, LLC, 621 F.3d 819, 822 (8th Cir. 2010); Boegeman v. Bank Star, 2012 WL 4793739, *2 (E.D.Mo. Oct. 9, 2012). Minimal diversity means that "any class member and any defendant are citizens of different states." Westerfeld v. Indep. Processing, LLC, 621 F.3d 819, 822 (8th Cir. 2010). A defendant seeking to remove on CAFA grounds must establish by a preponderance of the evidence each of the three (3) jurisdictional elements. Rolwing v. Nestle Holdings, Inc., 666 F.3d 1069, 1071 (8th Cir.2012); Bell v. Hershey Co., 557 F.3d 953, 957 (8th Cir.2009); Hewitt II v. Gerber Products Co., 2012 WL 5410753, *7 (W.D. Ark. November 6, 2012). If the removing party meets this burden, then the party seeking remand must establish to a legal certainty that the requirements for CAFA jurisdiction have not been met. Rolwing, at 1069 citing Bell, at 959.

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiffs filed their original Petition (ECF No. 7) in state court on or around January 13, 2016. Plaintiffs claim that Defendants misled them regarding the future location of the Rams, which caused Plaintiffs to purchase tickets, merchandise and concessions based upon Defendants' false promises. In their original Petition, Plaintiffs purport to represent the following class:

All Missouri residents who purchased Rams tickets and/or merchandise and/or concession from Defendants between April 21, 2010 and January 4, 2016, in the State of Missouri for personal, family or household purposes.
Excluded from the class are Named Plaintiffs' counsel and their agents. Also excluded from the class are Defendants and any entity in which Defendants have a controlling interest, and Defendant's [sic] legal representatives, heirs and successors.

(Petition, ¶26). Plaintiffs purport to allege a claim for Violation of the Merchandising Practices Act (Count I).

         On February 11, 2016, this case was removed from state court to this Court. (ECF No. 1).

         On April 8, 2016, Plaintiff filed their First Amended Complaint ("FAC"), ECF No. 26. The putative class in the FAC is defined as:

All Missouri residents who were Missouri citizens and remained Missouri citizens when this action was commenced who purchased Rams tickets and/or merchandise and/or concessions between April 21, 2010 and January 4, 2016, in the State of Missouri for personal, family or household purposes.
Excluded from the class are Named Plaintiffs' counsel and their agents. Also excluded from the class are Defendants and any entity in which Defendants have a controlling interest, and Defendant's [sic] legal representatives, heirs and successors; the judicial officers assigned ...

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