Thursday, May 11, 2006

Ordinary Substitution of Plaintiffs Does Not Recommence a Case for Purposes of Removal under CAFA

Per In re Methyl Teriary Butyl Ether (“MTBE”) Products Liability Litigation, Slip Copy, 2006 WL 1004725 (S.D.N.Y. April 17, 2006):

[T]he substitution of named plaintiffs only recommences a case if the amended pleading does not relate back to the earlier complaint. Phillips v. Ford Motor Co., 435 F.3d 785, 787 (7th Cir.2006). “[A] new contention relates back to the original complaint (and hence is not a new claim for relief or cause of action) when the original pleading furnishes the defendant with notice of the events that underlie the new contention.Knudsen v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co. (“Knudsen II”), 435 F.3d 755, 757 (7th Cir.2006).

Defendants cannot show that the amendments re-commenced the case. First, plaintiffs did not add a new defendant or a novel claim. Second, assuming, arguendo, that the substitution of McMannis and Graham as the named plaintiffs would completely alter the facts and proof at issue in the case, defendants cannot show that they lacked notice of the events at issue. Both the Fourth and Fifth Amended Complaints claim that defendants are liable for negligently breaching their duties to “ensure that MTBE, when used as intended, would not pose an unreasonable risk to groundwater from which [p]laintiffs and the Class draw their water.” Illinois “allows named plaintiffs to be substituted with relation back.Phillips, 435 F.3d at 788. The Fourth Amended Complaint's class allegations encompassed Graham and McMannis' claims as they were part of the purported class. The fact the named individual plaintiffs changed did not alter the underlying allegations.

[The motion to remand was granted.]


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