Allen v. Boeing Co.

The local controversy exception to federal CAFA jurisdiction applied in this pollution class action because the plaintiffs sought significant relief from and based their suit in significant part on a nondiverse defendant’s negligence in performing its contract to remediate the diverse defendant’s pollution.  In deciding whether the local controversy exception to CAFA jurisdiction applies, the court considers only the pleadings, not evidence.  Here, the suit was against Boeing, a diverse defendant, for pollution which had migrated from its manufacturing facility to plaintiffs’ neighboring properties.  Landau, the nondiverse defendant, had been hired by Boeing a decade earlier to investigate and remediate the pollution.  The complaint claimed that due to both defendants’ negligence the plume of pollution continued to migrate off Boeing’s property and onto plaintiffs’.  The complaint sought “significant relief” against Landau even though it did not attempt to segregate the damages sought from Landau as opposed to Boeing.  Under plaintiffs’ allegations and theory, both defendants were equally responsible for all of plaintiffs’ damages.  Landau’s conduct also formed a significant basis for plaintiffs’ claims since had it carried out its investigation and remediation duties properly, the pollution would not have migrated onto plaintiffs’ properties.  The complaint alleged, at least for jurisdictional purposes, an adequate negligence claim against Landau based on duties it assumed under its contract with Boeing for the benefit of owners of property near the contaminated Boeing site.

Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals (Callahan, J.); May 5, 2016; 2016 WL 2586334


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