Tammy Hargett, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff- Appellee
Revclaims, LLC Defendant St. Bernard's Hospital, Inc.; St. Bernard's Community Hospital Corporation; Baptist Health; White River Health System, Inc. Defendants-Appellants John Does 1-100 Defendant Tammy Hargett, Individually and on behalf of all others similarly situated Plaintiff- Appellee
Revclaims, LLC Defendant-Appellant John Does 1-100; Baptist Health; St. Bernard's Hospital, Inc.; St. Bernard's Community Hospital Corporation; White River Health System, Inc. Defendants
Submitted: March 10, 2017
from United States District Court for the Eastern District of
Arkansas - Jonesboro
SMITH,  BOWMAN, and SHEPHERD, Circuit
Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) broadened federal
jurisdiction over class actions but excepted controversies
that are primarily local in nature. District courts must
decline to exercise jurisdiction over these matters. Congress
has defined the features of a local controversy. As relevant
to this appeal, a class action is a local controversy if
local citizens predominate over non-locals in the class
membership-that is, if more than two-thirds of the class
members are "citizens of the State in which the action
was originally filed." 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d)(4)(A)(i)(I). We have long held that
"resident" does not mean "citizen" in 28
U.S.C. § 1332(a). The issue in this case is whether this
citizenship/residency distinction also applies to §
1332(d)(4). In other words, does "citizen" mean the
same thing in § 1332(d)(4) that it means in the rest of
28 U.S.C. § 1332? We hold that it does, and that the
district court therefore erred in remanding this case based
on the class members' Arkansas residency rather than
Hargett was injured in a car wreck. Hargett received medical
treatment from St. Bernard's Hospital. St. Bernard's
required Hargett to assign her rights as a Medicaid
Beneficiary to the hospital. The hospital contracted with
RevClaims, LLC to pursue any claim Hargett might have against
the driver responsible for her injuries. This was in lieu of
collecting a reduced but certain payment from Arkansas
Medicaid, which insured Hargett. Hargett contends that this
practice violates Arkansas law. She sued St. Bernard's,
RevClaims, and several other hospitals in Arkansas state
court on behalf of a class comprising "[a]ll persons who
were Arkansas Medicaid-eligible beneficiaries" who were
treated at one of the defendant hospitals and who had similar
liens placed on their third-party claims by RevClaims.
Hargett also alleged that "hundreds, if not thousands,
of people geographically dispersed across Arkansas have been
damaged by Defendants' actions."
defendants removed the suit to federal court under CAFA, 28
U.S.C. § 1332(d). Hargett moved to remand. She urged the
district court to "decline to exercise
jurisdiction" under CAFA's local-controversy
exception. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4). The district court
concluded that Hargett's suit met all the exception's
requirements, including the requirement that more than
two-thirds of the proposed class be citizens of the state
where the suit was filed-in this case, Arkansas. See
28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(4)(A)(i)(I). As the district court
In establishing the local controversy exception, Plaintiff
has defined the class as all persons who were Arkansas
residents at the time the medical services which form the
basis of the Complaint were provided to them. By restricting
the class members to Arkansas residents (specifically,
"people geographically disbursed across Arkansas;"
Document 2, para. 48), Plaintiffs have sufficiently satisfied
their burden of establishing that more than 2/3 of the class
members are citizens of Arkansas.
clarity, " though, the district court directed Hargett
"to immediately amend her complaint to explicitly
restrict the proposed class definition as to only include
Arkansas citizens." Hargett filed an amended complaint
defining the proposed class as "[a]ll Arkansas
citizens who were Arkansas Medicaid-eligible
beneficiaries . . . ." (emphasis added). Then the case
was remanded. The hospitals and RevClaims sought permission
to appeal under 28 U.S.C. 1453(c)(1), which we granted.
jurisdiction to accept appeals from class-action remands. 28
U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1). The authorizing statute leaves to
the "informed discretion of the reviewing court"
precisely how to exercise this jurisdiction. Coll. of
Dental Surgeons of P.R. v. Conn. Gen. Life Ins. Co., 585
F.3d 33, 39 (1st Cir. 2009). We accepted this appeal to
address a novel and important CAFA issue: How does the
"resident" versus "citizen" distinction
we have observed in other parts of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 play
out in the local-controversy exception?
conducting this review, we are guided by five principal
considerations. First, CAFA reflects Congress's desire
for broad diversity jurisdiction over class actions.
Westerfeld v. Indep. Processing, LLC, 621 F.3d 819,
822 (8th Cir. 2010). The local-controversy exception is
narrow. Id. Once a removing defendant has
established CAFA's jurisdictional requirements, the
burden shifts to the plaintiff to establish that the
local-controversy exception applies. Id. This means
that the district court "should resolve any doubt about
the applicability of CAFA's local-controversy exception
against . . . the party who seeks remand." Id.
apart from the local-controversy exception, the term
"citizen" in 28 U.S.C. § 1332 has long meant
something different from "resident." As we said
recently, "it is simply incorrect to say [a party]'s
Arkansas residency establishes Arkansas citizenship for the
purpose of" § 1332(a)(1). Reece v. Bank of N.Y.
Mellon, 760 F.3d 771, 777 (8th Cir. 2014). We explained
why: "Citizenship requires permanence."
Id. at 778. Residency is a more fluid concept.
See id. Unlike citizenship, residency does not
require an intent to make a place home. See Ellis v. Se.
Constr. Co., 260 F.2d 280, 281 (8th Cir. 1958). ...