211 F.3d 445 (7th Cir. 2000), 99-2893, Tylka v. Gerber Products

Docket Nº:99-2893
Citation:211 F.3d 445
Party Name:PAMELA J. TYLKA, H. JOSHUA CHAET, CHERYL KELLER, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. GERBER PRODUCTS COMPANY, a Michigan Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.
Case Date:May 01, 2000
Court:United States Courts of Appeals, Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
 
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Page 445

211 F.3d 445 (7th Cir. 2000)

PAMELA J. TYLKA, H. JOSHUA CHAET, CHERYL KELLER, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants,

v.

GERBER PRODUCTS COMPANY, a Michigan Corporation, Defendant-Appellee.

No. 99-2893

In the United States Court of Appeals, For the Seventh Circuit

May 1, 2000

Argued February 22, 2000

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. Nos. 96 C 1647, 96 C 1648, 96 C 1649, and 96 C 1964--Charles R. Norgle, Sr., Judge.

Page 446

Before COFFEY, EASTERBROOK and WILLIAMS, Circuit Judges.

COFFEY, Circuit Judge.

In February and March of 1996, Pamela Jean Tylka, H. Joshua Chaet, Cheryl Keller, Jeanette DeLeon, Toni Cainkar, Elaine T. Hyneck, and Barbara F. Berg filed almost identical class-action lawsuits against Gerber Products in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois. In their complaints, the plaintiffs alleged that Gerber engaged in a pattern of false and deceptive advertising concerning the nutritional value and content of its baby food products, in violation of the Illinois Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Business Practices Act, 815 Ill. Comp. Stats. 505/1, the Uniform Deceptive Trade Practices Act, 815 Ill. Comp. Stats. 510/1, and Illinois common law fraud. Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. sec. 1446,1 Gerber removed these cases to the United States District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that diversity jurisdiction existed.

Obviously unhappy with their lawsuits being removed to federal court, the plaintiffs moved to remand their cases back to the state court system, arguing that the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. sec. 1332 ($50,000 at the time the suit was filed)2 was not met. The district court judge denied the plaintiffs' motion for a remand to the state courts because, according to the court, the injunctive relief sought by at least one plaintiff would cost

Page 447

Gerber more than $50,000, and therefore diversity jurisdiction existed.3 Subsequently, the judge entered summary judgment in favor of Gerber. Plaintiffs appeal the trial court's determination of subject matter jurisdiction; that is, the judge's conclusion that the requirements for diversity jurisdiction were met. Because Gerber has failed to take the steps necessary to ensure federal jurisdiction, a surprising failure given this court's direction at oral argument, we VACATE the district court's opinion and REMAND this case with instructions to REMAND these lawsuits back to Illinois state court.

Because the basis for the resolution of this appeal lies in Gerber's failure to perfect subject matter jurisdiction as directed by the court, only the facts relevant to that issue will be addressed in this opinion and we will leave it up to the Illinois courts to determine the precise nature of the plaintiffs' claims.

In February and March 1996, seven plaintiffs filed six virtually identical lawsuits against Gerber in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Illinois,4 in which they claimed that Gerber's advertising describing its baby food products as nutritious and of high quality was false and misleading...

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