Bridewell-Sledge v. Blue Cross of Cal.

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-20-2015
  • Case #: 15-56039
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Silverman for the Court; Circuit Judges McLane and Wardlaw
  • Full Text Opinion

Under the Class Action Fairness Act, when two cases are consolidated they are to be viewed as one under a jurisdiction analysis.

The Crowder and Bridewell-Sledge suits were filed against the Blue Cross of California minutes after each other. Each suit, a class action, had claims of gender and race employment discrimination. The district court did not consolidate the cases and remanded them back to state court under the Class Action fairness Act (“CAFA”) local controversy exception. The defendants contend that the cases should not be remanded to state court. On appeal, the Ninth Circuit found that CAFA gives the federal court diversity jurisdiction over a class action suit if the amount exceeds five million dollars, and if any class member is a citizen of a state different from the defendant. Additionally, CAFA does not require complete diversity. The panel found that the CAFA local controversy exception was designed to focus on class actions that should not be removed to federal courts because of how localized the issue appears. The panel held that the local controversy exception applied, and that the district court correctly remanded the suit to state court. Furthermore, the panel addressed whether the cases should have been consolidated. The panel concluded that the district court erred and should have viewed the cases as one, given that when two cases so similar are consolidated that the district court is to look at them as a single case from the point of filing, as if they were never separate, thus appropriately remanding to state court as one under CAFA local controversy exception. AFFIRMED in Part, REVERSED in Part, and REMANDED with instructions.

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