In re Cardizem Cd Antitrust Litigation

Decision Date15 October 1999
Docket NumberMDL No. 1278.,No. 99-md-1278.,99-md-1278.
Citation90 F.Supp.2d 819
PartiesIn re CARDIZEM CD ANTITRUST LITIGATION. This Document Relates to: Case Nos. 99-73314 (Lowy), 99-73750 (Aetna), 99-73667 (Gabriel), 99-73345 (Sizemore), 99-73981 (Eirich), 99-74377 (Glover), 99-73845 (Sunshine), 99-73713 (D'Esposito), 99-73871 (Galloway).
CourtU.S. District Court — Eastern District of Michigan

Patrick E. Cafferty, Miller, Faucher, Cafferty and Wexler LLP, Ann Arbor, MI, for Albert Eirich and Jan Gabriel.

Elwood S. Simon, Elwood S. Simon & Associates, Birmingham, MI, for Albert Eirich.

Stephen Lowey, Lowey, Dannenberg, Bemporas & Selinger PC, White Plains, NY, for Betnor, Inc.

Joseph J. Tabacco, Jr., Berman, Devalerio, Pease & Tabacco, San Francisco, CA, for Aetna U.S. Healthcare and Aetna U.S. Healthcare of California, Inc.

Richard Drubel, Boies & Schiller, Hanover, NH, for Duane Reade, Inc.

Bruce E. Gerstein, Garwin, Bronzaft Gerstein & Fisher, LLP, New York City, for Louisiana Wholesale Drug Co., Inc. and Sixteenth St. Community Health Center.

Joseph Rebein, Shook, Hardy & Bacon LLP, Kansas City, MO, for Hoechst AG.

Craig L. John, Dykema Gossett PLLC, Bloomfield Hills, MI, for Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft.

Louis M. Solomon, Solomon Zauderer Ellenhorn Frischer & Sharp, New York City, for Andrx Corp. Norman C. Ankers, Honigman Miller Schwartz & Cohen, Detroit, MI, for Andrx Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Michael D. Hausfeld, Cohen, Milstein, Washington, DC, for Eugenia Wynne Sams.

Elwood S. Simon, Elwood S. Simon Assoc., Birmingham, MI, Stephen Lowey, Richard W. Cohen, Lowey Dannenberg, White Plains, NY, Angela K. Green, Niewald, Waldeck, Kansas City, MO, for Philip Neal.

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER DENYING IN PART AND GRANTING IN PART PLAINTIFFS' MOTIONS FOR REMAND

EDMUNDS, District Judge.

Plaintiffs in these consolidated cases brought class-action suits in state court against Defendants Hoechst Aktiengesellschaft, Hoechst Marion Roussel, Inc. ("Hoechst"), and Andrx Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("Andrx") alleging that Defendants have violated various state antitrust and related laws, have conspired and entered into arrangements that have effectively prevented any lower-cost generic version of a prescription heart medication, known as Cardizem CD, from entering the United States marketplace, and have thus harmed Plaintiffs and the putative class members. Defendants removed the actions to federal court, and Plaintiffs' motions for remand are presently before this Court in the following nine matters:1

                Case No. Case Name
                99-cv-73314  Pearl Bence Lowy v. Hoechst, et al
                99-cv-73750  Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc. v. Hoechst
                             et al
                99-cv-73667  Jan Gabriel v. Hoechst, et al
                99-cv-73345  Larry S. Sizemore v. Hoechst, et al.
                99-cv-73981  Albert Eirich v. Hoechst, et al.
                99-cv-74377  Shirlean Glover v. Hoechst, et al.
                99-cv-73845  Sunshine Pharmacy of NY, Inc. v.
                             Hoechst, et al.
                99-cv-73713  D'Esposito v. Hoechst, et al.
                99-cv-73871  Galloway, Inc. v. Hoechst, et al.
                

Each case is addressed individually. The discussion begins with the cases where Plaintiffs plainly allege unjust enrichment or admit that Plaintiff and the class are seeking restitution or disgorgement: Gabriel, Sunshine Pharmacy, Eirich and Glover. Next, the Court addresses the cases where the Plaintiff's complaint specifically pleads for less than the required jurisdictional threshold amount for diversity jurisdiction: Sizemore; and those where the Plaintiff's complaint does not clearly allege unjust enrichment or seek the equitable remedies of disgorgement or restitution: Galloway, Inc. and D'Esposito. Here, the Court addresses Defendants' arguments that aggregation is proper with regard to Plaintiffs' claims for injunctive relief, statutory damages, and attorneys fees. Finally, the Court addresses those cases where there is no diversity of citizenship and removal, if proper, must be based on the federal question grounds Defendants assert: Lowy and Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc.

Plaintiffs' motions for remand are DENIED in Gabriel, Sunshine Pharmacy, Eirich, Glover, Sizemore, Galloway, Inc., and D'Esposito because Plaintiffs' complaints present integrated claims which satisfy the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs' motions for remand are GRANTED in Lowy, and Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc. because the Court finds no basis for federal question jurisdiction.

I. Standard of Review

"Generally, a civil case brought in state court may be removed by a defendant to federal court if it could have been brought there originally." Gafford v. General Elec. Co., 997 F.2d 150, 155 (6th Cir. 1993). The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction rests "clearly upon the defendants as the removing party." Alexander v. Electronic Data Systems Corp., 13 F.3d 940, 949 (6th Cir.1994). The court is required to "`look to the complaint as it existed at the time the petition for removal was filed to determine' the matter of federal jurisdiction raised by the defendant's notice of removal." Alexander, 13 F.3d at 949 (quoting Cromwell v. Equicor-Equitable HCA Corp., 944 F.2d 1272, 1277 (6th Cir.1991)). The federal courts strictly construe removal petitions in a manner that resolves all doubts against removal. Her Majesty The Queen v. City of Detroit, 874 F.2d 332, 339 (6th Cir.1989).

II. Analysis
A. Diversity Jurisdiction—Amount in Controversy Disputes

Defendants assert that removal is proper here because the parties are completely diverse, and the amount in controversy exceeds the $75,000 statutory minimum under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Other than in Lowy and Aetna U.S. Healthcare, Inc., which are discussed below under federal question jurisdiction, Plaintiffs do not dispute that the parties are completely diverse but move for a remand asserting that Defendants cannot satisfy their burden of proving that the amount-in-controversy requirement under § 1332 is satisfied.

1. General Principles
a. Controlling Law.

In multidistrict litigation such as this, "the binding precedent, if any, from the Sixth Circuit should be examined and, if none exists, an evaluation of other circuit law should be undertaken in order to make a reasoned decision. This multidistrict litigation, ..., deserves to have but one interpretation of federal law." In re Air Crash at Detroit Metro. Airport, 791 F.Supp. 1204, 1213 (E.D.Mich.1992). Although state law will dictate the nature of the claim asserted and what amounts are actually at stake, federal law will determine whether the amounts exceed the statutory minimum necessary for diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. See 15 Moore's Federal Practice, § 102.101 (Matthew Bender 3d ed).

b. Burden of Proof.

The defendant's burden of proof regarding the amount in controversy varies depending on whether and how much the plaintiff seeks in damages. See Gafford v. General Elec. Co., 997 F.2d 150. If the plaintiff's complaint specifies that she is seeking an unspecified amount in damages, then the "`preponderance of the evidence' (`more likely than not') test" will apply, and the Defendant must show, by a preponderance standard, that the plaintiff's allegations, if properly proved, will justify an award in excess of the jurisdictional minimum. Gafford, 997 F.2d at 158. If the plaintiff's complaint specifies that she is seeking an amount less than the amount required for diversity jurisdiction, then the defendant must show by a "substantial likelihood" or "reasonable probability" that the plaintiff's claims meet the amount-in-controversy requirement. See Gafford, 997 F.2d at 157-58; Crosby v. America Online, Inc., 967 F.Supp. 257, 261 n. 2 (N.D.Ohio 1997).2

c. Aggregation of Class Action Claims

Generally, to permit removal of a class action lawsuit under the diversity jurisdiction statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, a defendant must show that the jurisdictional amount is satisfied by each class member, and the class members' claims may not be aggregated. Zahn v. International Paper Co., 414 U.S. 291, 94 S.Ct. 505, 38 L.Ed.2d 511 (1973). "The general rule is that while separate and distinct claims may not be aggregated, aggregation is permissible when `two or more plaintiffs unite to enforce a single title or right in which they have a common and undivided interest.'" Sellers v. O'Connell, 701 F.2d 575, 579 (6th Cir.1983) (quoting Snyder v. Harris, 394 U.S. 332, 335, 89 S.Ct. 1053, 22 L.Ed.2d 319 (1969)). The Sixth Circuit has observed that "[a]n identifying characteristic of a common and undivided interest is that if one plaintiff cannot or does not collect his share, the shares of the remaining plaintiffs are increased." Sellers, 701 F.2d at 579. Accordingly, a determination whether a plaintiff's claim may be aggregated or not requires examination of the nature of the right the plaintiff is asserting.

d. Overview of the Parties Arguments

Defendants assert that removal is proper and diversity jurisdiction exists because the various Plaintiff's claims for unjust enrichment, injunctive relief, statutory damages, and attorneys' fees may be considered in the aggregate when determining whether the amount in controversy requirement is satisfied. Plaintiffs argue to the contrary.

2. Specific Amount-in-Controversy Disputes
a. Where Unjust Enrichment and/or Disgorgement Plainly Asserted: Gabriel, Sunshine Pharmacy, Eirich and Glover

In each of these four cases, there is no dispute that the parties are completely diverse for the purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1332 and that the Defendants are not citizens of the forum state as required for removal jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). Rather, the dispute centers on the question whether each of these actions involves an amount in controversy that exceeds the $75,000 jurisdictional minimum necessary for diversity jurisdiction. In each, Plaintiff did not specify the amount of damages sought. Accordingly, Defendants need only show, by a preponderance...

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