Tobacco Class Action Defense Cases-Dahl v. R.J. Reynolds: Eighth Circuit Reverses Denial Of Motion To Remand Class Action To State Court
Class Action Remanded to State Court because Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion in a Different Case does not Constitute “an Amended Pleading, Motion, Order or Other Paper” Within the Meaning of 28 U.S.C. § 1442(b) Eighth Circuit Holds
In 2003, plaintiffs filed a class action in Minnesota state court against R.J. Reynolds & Touche for fraud and violations of state consumer protection laws alleging that the company engaged in “unfair business practices and/or deceptive and unlawful conduct in connection with the manufacture, distribution, promotion, marketing, and sale” of “light” cigarettes. Dahl v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 478 F.3d 965, 966 (8th Cir. 2007). Defense attorneys removed the class action complaint to federal court but the district court remanded the class action to state court because the claims of the individual plaintiffs were less than $75,000; the state court then dismissed the class action complaint on the ground that the claims therein were preempted by federal law under the Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act of 1965, 15 U.S.C. § 1331. Id. During the pendency of the state court appeal, the Eighth Circuit issued an opinion that held another tobacco company had established federal officer jurisdiction in a case involving the marketing of light cigarettes, id. (citing Watson v. Philip Morris Cos., 420 F.3d 852 (8th Cir. 2005), cert. granted, ___ U.S. ___, 127 S.Ct. 1055 (January 12, 2007); defense attorneys again removed the class action to federal court, arguing federal officer jurisdiction, id. Plaintiffs’ lawyer moved to remand the class action complaint to state court, arguing that the notice of removal was untimely, but the district court denied the motion. Id. The Circuit Court reversed.
Briefly, the class action complaint was filed in 2003 and timely removed to federal court; following remand, the trial court dismissed the class action and plaintiffs appealed. Dahl, at 966. On August 25, 2005, while the appeal from the dismissal of the class action complaint was pending, the Eighth Circuit issued its opinion in Watson holding that Philip Morris had established federal officer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a), and on September 22, 2005, defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court under § 1442(a). Id., at 967. Plaintiffs argued that the removal was untimely as it was not brought within the 30-day limit set forth in § 1442(b); the district court denied the motion, agreeing with the defense that “Watson made it clear for the first time that federal courts have jurisdiction over claims like those in this case and its receipt of that opinion recommenced the thirty day time period for removal.” Id.