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Class Action Defense Cases-Roberts v. BJC Health: Defense Appeal Of Order Remanding Class Action To State Court Not Reviewable On Appeal Even Though State Court May Lack Jurisdiction Because Of ERISA Preemption Eighth Circuit Holds

28 U.S.C. § 1447(d) Bars Review of Class Action Defense Appeal of Order Remanding Case to State Court on Grounds that Federal Court Lacked Subject Matter Jurisdiction Over Action

Roberts v. BJC Health System, 452 F.3d 737 (8th Cir. 2006), concerned a putative class action filed in Missouri state court alleging that certain medical procedures were systematically “miscoded” so that patients were overcharged for the procedures. The defense removed the action to federal court on the grounds of federal question subject matter jurisdiction, asserting that ERISA completely preempted the class action claims. In response to plaintiffs’ motion for remand, the district court concluded that it lacked subject matter jurisdiction over the putative class action because the plaintiffs had not suffered any injury in fact, and therefore lacked standing. Id., at 738. Because plaintiffs lacked standing, the court never reached the issue of whether ERISA preempted plaintiffs’ putative class action. Defense attorneys appealed, arguing that the case should have been dismissed; plaintiffs responded that the remand order was not appealable because it was based on lack of jurisdiction. Id.

On June 21, 2006, the Eighth Circuit agreed and dismissed the appeal. The Court reaffirmed well-settled law that “[w]hen a district court remands a case based on a lack of subject matter jurisdiction under [28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)], ‘a court of appeals lacks jurisdiction to entertain an appeal of the remand order.'” Roberts, at 739 (citation omitted). The Circuit Court recognized that its decision “creates a potential Catch-22 for the parties” in that “the state court might dismiss the action for lack of jurisdiction because of ERISA preemption.” Id. The Court’s solution was to suggest that plaintiffs find a class member that had suffered an injury in fact. Id.

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