Weems v. Touro Infirmary ( 2007 )


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  •                                                                     United States Court of Appeals
                                                                                 Fifth Circuit
                                     Revised April 30, 2007
                                                                              F I L E D
                       IN THE UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS                   April 25, 2007
                                FOR THE FIFTH CIRCUIT
                                                                          Charles R. Fulbruge III
                                                                                  Clerk
                                         No. 07-30132
                                       Summary Calendar
    
    
    
    ELMIRA PRESTON; HOWARD PRESTON; ROSE LEFRANCE PRESTON;
    SHERYL PRESTON; DEBORAH MAZIE; ET AL.,
    
                                                                          Plaintiffs-Appellees,
    
                                             versus
    
    TENET HEALTHSYSTEM MEMORIAL MEDICAL CENTER, INC.,
    doing business as Memorial Medical Center,
    
                                                                         Defendant-Appellee,
    
                                             versus
    
    LIFECARE HOSPITAL OF NEW ORLEANS LLC, doing business as Lifecare Hospital;
    LIFECARE MANAGEMENT SERVICES, L.L.C.,
    
    
                                                                       Defendants-Appellants.
    
    
                                       Consolidated with
    
    
    
                                         No. 07-30160
                                       Summary Calendar
    
    
    
    CHERYL WEEMS, Individually and on behalf of her deceased mother,
    Veola Mosby, and on behalf of all others similarly situated,
    
                                                                            Plaintiff-Appellee,
                                                 versus
    
    
    
    TOURO INFIRMARY,
    
                                                                                 Defendant-Appellee,
    
    SHONO, INC. doing business as Specialty Hospital of New Orleans,
    
                                                                                Defendant-Appellant.
    
    
    
                             On Petition for Permission to Appeal from the
                                 United States District Court for the
                                      Eastern District of Louisiana
    
    
    
    Before DeMOSS, STEWART, and PRADO, Circuit Judges.
    
    CARL E. STEWART, Circuit Judge:
    
           Tenet Health Systems Memorial Medical Center d/b/a Memorial Medical Center
    
    (“Memorial”) moved to remand this class action lawsuit to state court under the “local
    
    controversy” exception of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. §
    
    1332(d). The district court granted the motion to remand, and LifeCare Management Services,
    
    L.L.C., and LifeCare Hospitals of New Orleans, L.L.C. (collectively “LifeCare”), timely
    
    appealed the order. We affirm the district court’s judgment.
    
                         I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND
    
           Preston represents a putative class of patients and the relatives of deceased and allegedly
    
    injured patients hospitalized at Memorial when Hurricane Katrina made landfall in New Orleans,
    
    Louisiana. Memorial owned and operated the hospital, and LifeCare leased the seventh floor of
    
    
                                                    2
    the facility for an acute care center. On October 6, 2005, Preston brought suit against Memorial
    
    in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans. Preston asserted claims for negligence and
    
    intentional misconduct, “reverse patient dumping” under the Emergency Medical Treatment and
    
    Active Labor Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1395(dd), and involuntary euthanization. Preston alleged that
    
    Memorial failed to design and maintain the premises in a manner that avoided loss of power in
    
    the building.   Preston further alleged that Memorial and LifeCare failed to develop and
    
    implement an evacuation plan for the patients.       According to the petition, Memorial’s and
    
    LifeCare’s failure to maintain the premises and timely evacuate the facility resulted in the deaths
    
    and injuries of hospitalized patients. Preston named LifeCare in the Fifth Supplemental
    
    Amended Petition for Damages, seeking to certify the following class of persons:
    
           All patients of Memorial and LifeCare who sustained injuries including death or
           personal injury as a result of the insufficient design, inspection and/or
           maintenance of LifeCare and/or Memorial’s back-up electrical system, its failure
           to implement its evacuation plan and/or its emergency preparedness plan and/or
           its failure to have a plan which would have facilitated the safe transfer of patients
           out of harm’s way, and its failure to have a plan of care for patients in the event of
           a power outage in the wake of Hurricane Katrina within the property owned by
           Memorial and leased and/or operated by LifeCare on or about the time period of
           August 26, 2005 through and including August 29, 2005 and thereafter, and all
           persons who sustained personal injury as a result of the deaths or personal injuries
           to patients of LifeCare and Memorial . . . .
    
           On June 26, 2006, LifeCare filed a timely notice of removal. Memorial never consented
    
    to removal from the state court. Shortly thereafter, LifeCare amended its removal notice to
    
    assert the following grounds: the Federal Officer Removal Statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1); the
    
    Multiparty, Multiforum Trial Jurisdiction Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1369; the Class Action Fairness Act
    
    of 2005, 28 U.S.C. § 1369; and federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Preston filed a
    
    motion to remand under the local controversy exception of CAFA. On August 22, 2006, the
    
    district court conducted a non-evidentiary hearing on the remand motion. The court declined to
    
                                                     3
    rule on the motion at the hearing but instead ordered the parties to present additional evidence
    
    regarding the citizenship of the class members. Preston withdrew the motion to remand prior to
    
    the deadline for submitting additional proof. Nevertheless, on November 13, 2006, Memorial
    
    filed a memorandum supporting remand and adopting Preston’s withdrawn motion. As a result,
    
    Memorial effectively resurrected Preston’s motion to remand. On November 21, 2006, the
    
    district court remanded the lawsuit to state court under the local controversy exception, home
    
    state exception, and the discretionary jurisdiction provision. The district court also declined to
    
    exercise federal jurisdiction under the alternative grounds asserted in LifeCare’s amended notice
    
    of removal. LifeCare filed a timely petition for appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1453. On
    
    February 5, 2007, this court granted permission to appeal.1 LifeCare only contests the district
    
    court’s citizenship findings under CAFA’s exceptions to federal jurisdiction.
    
                                      II. STANDARD OF REVIEW
    
           We review the district court’s factual findings as to the citizenship of the parties for clear
    
    error. Acridge v. Evangelical Lutheran Good Samaritan Soc., 
    334 F.3d 444
    , 450 (5th Cir. 2003)
    
    (The district court’s “analysis of the facts and circumstances” relevant to determining domicile is
    
    reviewed under the clearly erroneous standard.); Coury v. Prot, 
    85 F.3d 244
    , 251 (5th Cir. 1996)
    
    (“Nevertheless, in practice, the district court’s determination of domicile is reviewed on appeal
    
    
    
           1
             On February 14, 2007, shortly after we granted permission to appeal in Preston, another
    panel of this court entered an order that granted a named defendant permission to appeal a
    remand order in Weems v. Touro, No. 07-30160. These two class action lawsuits involve nearly
    identical factual backgrounds; however, the parties and procedural histories are different. On
    appeal, both Appellants ask the court to determine whether the parties moving for remand
    introduced sufficient evidence to satisfy the citizenship requirement under CAFA’s exceptions to
    federal jurisdiction. Due to the factual similarities and the legal issues of first impression, the
    court consolidated these two appeals. Accordingly, we timely enter two separate judgments.
    
                                                     4
    as a question of fact; it will be upheld unless ‘clearly erroneous.’”); Carrasco-Favela v.
    
    Immigration & Naturalization Serv., 
    563 F.2d 1220
    , 1222 (5th Cir. 1977) (“Whether petitioner
    
    abandoned this domicile . . . is mainly a question of fact turning on petitioner’s intent to remain
    
    indefinitely . . . or a lack of intent to make his home elsewhere.”); Welsh v. Am. Surety Co. of
    
    N.Y., 
    186 F.2d 16
    , 18 (5th Cir. 1951) (“The question is always one of compound fact and law . . .
    
    [and] we are not warranted in setting aside his findings and conclusions unless clearly
    
    erroneous.”). But see Evans v. Walter Indus., Inc. 
    449 F.3d 1159
    , 1161-62 (11th Cir. 2006)
    
    (conducting a de novo review of the district court’s citizenship determination under CAFA’s
    
    local controversy exception). A finding of fact is clearly erroneous only when “although there
    
    may be evidence to support it, the reviewing court on the entire [record] is left with the definite
    
    and firm conviction that a mistake has been committed.” Campos v. City of Baytown, Tex., 
    840 F.2d 1240
    , 1243 (5th Cir.1988) (citing Anderson v. City of Bessemer City, N.C., 
    470 U.S. 564
    ,
    
    573 (1985)).
    
           The standard of review for a district court’s remand under the discretionary provision
    
    constitutes an issue of first impression. We review the district court’s remand order for abuse of
    
    discretion. In determining the burden of proof to show citizenship under the local controversy
    
    exception, courts treating the question in the first instance looked to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), the
    
    general removal statute.    Frazier v. Pioneer Ams. L.L.C., 
    455 F.3d 542
     (5th Cir. 2006)
    
    (determining that plaintiffs had the burden of proof to show citizenship based on analogy to the
    
    general removal statute); Hart v. FedEx Ground Packaging Sys., Inc., 
    457 F.3d 675
     (7th Cir.
    
    2006) (same); Evans v. Walter Indus., Inc., 
    449 F.3d 1159
     (11th Cir. 2006) (same).
    
           In the traditional removal context, a district court “shall have original jurisdiction” over
    
    lawsuits involving a federal question or lawsuits satisfying statutory diversity and amount in
    
                                                    5
    controversy requirements. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331 & 1332(a). On the other hand, the district courts
    
    “may decline to exercise supplemental jurisdiction” over a prescribed list of state and federal law
    
    claims in certain circumstances. 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c). In interpreting the discretionary language
    
    of supplemental jurisdiction, this court reviews an order to remand pursuant to § 1367(c) for
    
    abuse of discretion. Smith v. Amedisys, Inc., 
    298 F.3d 434
     (5th Cir. 2002) (upholding the district
    
    court’s remand of case based on existence of novel and complex issues of state law); Welch v.
    
    Thompson, 
    20 F.3d 636
     (5th Cir. 1994) (upholding district court’s remand of case after dismissal
    
    of federal claims); Kaplan v. Clear Lake City Water Auth., 
    794 F.2d 1059
     (5th Cir. 1986)
    
    (same); Jones v. Fitch, 
    665 F.2d 586
     (5th Cir. 1982) (upholding district court’s remand of case
    
    based on the presence of a substantial state law claim).
    
           Similarly, the local controversy and home state exceptions read that the “district courts
    
    shall decline to exercise jurisdiction,” while the discretionary provision provides that the district
    
    court “may in the interests of justice and looking at the totality of the circumstances” decline to
    
    exercise jurisdiction. Compare §§ 1332(2) & (4) with § 1332(3). LifeCare cogently argues that
    
    the local controversy and home state exceptions should be construed narrowly and resolved in
    
    favor of federal jurisdiction based on the “shall decline to exercise jurisdiction” language, which
    
    represents the classic formulation for abstention. Under the discretionary jurisdiction provision,
    
    however, Congress permitted the district court greater latitude to remand class actions to state
    
    court. As with supplemental jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367(c), the district court does not
    
    wield unfettered discretion over whether to remand a case; instead Congress provided a list of
    
    factors to guide the district court’s consideration.
    
                                             III. DISCUSSION
    
    
                                                      6
    A.     Statutory Background
    
           Congress enacted CAFA to expand federal jurisdiction over interstate class action
    
    lawsuits of national interest.   CAFA contains a basic jurisdictional test for removal, which
    
    requires the removing defendant to prove minimal diversity and an aggregated amount in
    
    controversy of $5,000,000 or more. § 1332(d). CAFA eliminates the standard requirements of
    
    unanimous consent among the defendants and the one-year removal deadline. § 1453(b). The
    
    district court can decline jurisdiction under three provisions: (1) the home state exception, §
    
    1332(d)(4)(B); (2) the local controversy exception, § 1332(d)(4)(A); and (3) discretionary
    
    jurisdiction, § 1332(d)(3).
    
           Pursuant to the local controversy exception, the district court “shall decline to exercise
    
    jurisdiction” when the class action meets the following criteria:
    
           (I) greater than two-thirds of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the
           aggregate are citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed;
    
           (II) at least 1 defendant is a defendant–
    
                   (aa) from whom significant relief is sought by members of the plaintiff
                   class;
    
                   (bb) whose alleged conduct forms a significant basis for the claims
                   asserted by the proposed plaintiff class; and
    
                   (cc) who is a citizen of the State in which the action was originally filed;
                   and
    
           (III) principal injuries resulting from the alleged conduct or any related conduct
           of each defendant were incurred in the State in which the action was originally
           filed; and
    
           (ii) during the 3-year period preceding the filing of that class action, no other
           class action has been filed asserting the same or similar factual allegations against
           any of the defendants on behalf of the same or other persons.
    
    
    
                                                       7
    § 1332(4)(A). The home state exception provides that the district court “shall decline to exercise
    
    jurisdiction” when “two-thirds or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the
    
    aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of the State in which the action was
    
    originally filed.” § 1332(4)(B).
    
           Under the discretionary jurisdiction provision, a “district court may, in the interests of
    
    justice and looking at the totality of the circumstances, decline to exercise jurisdiction . . . over a
    
    class action in which greater than one-third but less than two-thirds of the members of all
    
    proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate and the primary defendants are citizens of the State in
    
    which the action was originally filed . . . .” The district court must consider these factors:
    
           (A) whether the claims asserted involve matters of national or interstate interest;
    
           (B) whether the claims asserted will be governed by laws of the State in which the
           action was originally filed or by the laws of other States;
    
           (C) whether the class action has been pleaded in a manner that seeks to avoid
           Federal jurisdiction;
    
           (D) whether the action was brought in a forum with a distinct nexus with the class
           members, the alleged harm, or the defendants;
    
           (E) whether the number of citizens of the State in which the action was originally
           filed in all proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate is substantially larger than
           the number of citizens from any other State, and the citizenship of the other
           members of the proposed class is dispersed among a substantial number of States;
           and
    
           (F) whether, during the 3-year period preceding the filing of that class action, 1 or
           more other class actions asserting the same or similar claims on behalf of the
           same or other persons have been filed.
    
    § 1332(d)(3).
    
    B.     Discretionary Jurisdiction Provision
    
    
    
                                                      8
           The district court remanded this class action lawsuit to state court under all three carve-
    
    outs to federal jurisdiction: the local controversy exception, the home state exception, and the
    
    discretionary jurisdiction provision.   Each CAFA exception requires the court to make an
    
    objective factual finding regarding the percentage of class members that were citizens of
    
    Louisiana at the time of filing the class petition.       The local controversy and home state
    
    exceptions to federal jurisdiction are separate and distinct statutory provisions with a common
    
    requirement–greater than “two-thirds of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in the
    
    aggregate [must be] citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed.” LifeCare
    
    concedes that this class action lawsuit satisfies the distinguishable remaining elements of the two
    
    exceptions. Compare Serrano v. 180 Connect, Inc., 
    478 F.3d 1018
     (9th Cir. 2007) (declining to
    
    reach the “primary defendants” issue under the home state exception), with Frazier v. Pioneer
    
    Ams. L.L.C., 
    455 F.3d 542
     (5th Cir. 2006) (holding that the state entity named as a defendant
    
    does not qualify as a citizen of the state in which suit was filed under the local controversy
    
    exception).
    
           Under CAFA’s discretionary jurisdiction provision, the citizenship requirement lowers to
    
    require that “greater than one-third but less than two-thirds of the members of all proposed
    
    plaintiff classes in the aggregate . . . are citizens of the State in which the action was originally
    
    filed . . . .” § 1332(d)(3). The movants must satisfy the citizenship requirement as a prerequisite
    
    to the district court weighing the additional statutory factors enumerated to guide the court’s
    
    remand determination.      The same legal principles apply to the discretionary jurisdiction
    
    provision as apply to the local controversy and home state exceptions. Despite the burden to
    
    prove a lesser percentage of class members were citizens of Louisiana, which party bears the
    
    
    
                                                     9
    burden of proof and the sufficiency of evidence necessary to satisfy the citizenship requirements
    
    remains consistent throughout either analysis.
    
           Congress crafted CAFA to exclude only a narrow category of truly localized
    
    controversies, and § 1332(d)(3) provides a discretionary vehicle for district courts to ferret out
    
    the “controversy that uniquely affects a particular locality to the exclusion of all others.” Evans,
    
    449 F.3d at 1164. After careful review of the record, the discretionary jurisdiction provision
    
    proves to be a particularly well-suited framework for considering the interconnections between
    
    the underlying facts giving rise to the alleged legal claims and the extenuating circumstances
    
    affecting this preliminary jurisdictional determination.2   The district court determined that a
    
    distinct nexus exists between the forum of Louisiana, the Defendants, and the proposed class.
    
    We observe, more specifically, that Preston alleges that LifeCare and Memorial, citizens of
    
    Louisiana, committed acts in Louisiana causing injuries and deaths to patients hospitalized in
    
    New Orleans, Louisiana, when Hurricane Katrina made landfall. The claims asserted in the
    
    petition involve issues of negligence governed by state law. Memorial does not contest that the
    
    instant lawsuit fulfills the threshold requirements for removal under CAFA, i.e. the requisite
    
    number of proposed class members, minimal diversity, and the necessary aggregate amount in
    
    controversy.   See § 1332(d)(2).      Accordingly, we limit our review to whether Memorial
    
    
    
    
           2
             LifeCare argues that the district court violated its due process rights by not giving
    LifeCare notice of any intention to remand the action pursuant to the discretionary jurisdiction
    provision. We find this argument wholly unpersuasive. As a bedrock principle of federal
    jurisdiction, a court may sua sponte review whether subject matter jurisdiction exists in a case.
    Moreover, the remand order does not deprive LifeCare of a judicial forum to defend against the
    alleged claims but merely designates this lawsuit as more appropriately prosecuted under the
    jurisdiction of the state courts.
    
                                                     10
    presented sufficient evidence to show that at least one-third of the putative class members were
    
    citizens of Louisiana at the time that the suit was filed.
    
            1.      Burden of Proof
    
            We now consider which party bears the burden of proof under the discretionary
    
    jurisdiction provision. Under CAFA, the moving party on the remand motion, not the defendant
    
    seeking federal jurisdiction, bears the burden to establish the domicile of at least one-third of the
    
    class members at the time of filing the lawsuit. Frazier, 455 F.3d at 546 (“[P]laintiffs have the
    
    burden to show the applicability of the §§ 1332(d)(3)-(5) exceptions when jurisdiction turns on
    
    their application.”). The plaintiffs in this case, however, withdrew their motion to remand before
    
    the court entered judgment. The district court reasoned that “whether or not the Motion is viable
    
    in view of the Plaintiffs’ withdrawal is of no consequence since the Court must sua sponte
    
    address the issue and remand the action back to state court if it determines at any time that it
    
    lacks subject mater jurisdiction.” (emphasis and citations omitted). We agree that the moving
    
    party’s decision to withdraw the motion does not render the district court unable to review its
    
    subject matter jurisdiction, but we offer an additional reason for this conclusion.
    
            LifeCare argues that the district court remanded the case despite any “extant” motion to
    
    remand. Under CAFA, however, both plaintiffs and non-consenting defendants may move to
    
    remand the class action to state court because Congress eliminated the standard requirement that
    
    defendants must unanimously consent to federal jurisdiction.3 Therefore, in this instance, we
    
    
            3
            “A class action may be removed to a district court of the United States in accordance
    with section 1446 . . . except that such action may be removed by any defendant without the
    consent of all defendants.” § 1453(b). For purposes of remand, Congress concluded that
    “Section 1447 shall apply to any removal of a case under this section,” which does not designate
    whether only plaintiffs or defendants may move to remand a case to state court. See 28 U.S.C. §
    1447(c) (“A motion to remand the case on the basis of any defect other than lack of subject
    
                                                       11
    adopt the broader statement that “once federal jurisdiction has been established under [CAFA],
    
    the objecting party bears the burden of proof as to the applicability of any express statutory
    
    exception under §§ 1332(d)(4)(A) and (B) [the local controversy and home state exceptions].”
    
    Serrano, 478 F.3d at 1024 (9th Cir. 2007) (emphasis added).
    
           In Frazier, the court reasoned that the “longstanding § 1441(a) doctrine placing the
    
    burden on plaintiffs to show exceptions to jurisdiction buttresses the clear congressional intent to
    
    do the same with CAFA.         This result is supported by the reality that plaintiffs are better
    
    positioned than defendants to carry this burden.” 455 F.3d at 545. Our holding extends Frazier
    
    and reconciles CAFA’s elimination of the typical full-consent requirement for removal with the
    
    facts presented in this appeal, wherein the plaintiffs withdrew their motion to remand and a
    
    defendant resurrected the motion. In the district court proceedings, Memorial did not seek
    
    removal pursuant to the discretionary jurisdiction provision; instead, the district court
    
    determined sua sponte that the discretionary provision supported its order to remand the class
    
    action back to state court. The differing percentage requirements between the two provisions,
    
    however, do not vitiate the burden to prove citizenship by a preponderance of the evidence.
    
    Accordingly, Memorial, the only party moving for remand, must show that the exceptions to
    
    federal jurisdiction apply in this class action despite its position as a named defendant.
    
           2.      Evidentiary Standard for Proving Citizenship
    
           Memorial must prove that greater than one-third of the putative class members were
    
    citizens of Louisiana at the time of filing the class action petition. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(7)
    
    
    matter jurisdiction must be made within 30 days after the filing of the notice of removal under
    section 1446(a). If at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks
    subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded.”).
    
                                                      12
    (“Citizenship of the members of the proposed plaintiff classes shall be determined for purposes
    
    of paragraphs (2) through (6) as of the date of the filing of the complaint.”). Preston filed this
    
    class action lawsuit on October 6, 2005; therefore, Memorial must prove citizenship as of this
    
    date. The parties contest the quantum of proof necessary to sustain the moving party’s burden.
    
    Pursuant to well-settled principles of law, we hold that the party moving for remand under the
    
    CAFA exceptions to federal jurisdiction must prove the citizenship requirement by a
    
    preponderance of the evidence. Welsh, 186 F.2d at 17. This holding means that Memorial, as
    
    the movant, must demonstrate by a preponderance of the evidence that at least one-third of the
    
    putative class members were citizens of Louisiana.
    
           In drafting CAFA, Congress explicitly and expressly delineated all deviations from
    
    traditional requirements of the general removal statute. For example, Congress eliminated the
    
    requirements for complete diversity and unanimous consent among the defendants to effectuate
    
    removal, such changes are clear from the plain language of the statute. Nothing in the statute
    
    suggests that Congress intended to impose a heightened burden of proof on parties attempting to
    
    remand a class action lawsuit to state court.
    
           In the context of diversity jurisdiction, once a person establishes his domicile in a
    
    particular state, he simultaneously establishes his citizenship in the same state. Stine v. Moore,
    
    
    213 F.2d 446
    , 448 (5th Cir. 1954). Someone acquires a “domicile of origin” at birth, and this
    
    domicile presumptively continues unless rebutted with sufficient evidence of change. Acridge,
    
    334 F.3d at 448 (citing Palazzo v. Corio, 
    232 F.3d 38
    , 42 (2d Cir. 2000)).
    
           [I]t is elementary that, to effect a change of one’s legal domicile, two things are
           indispensable: First, residence in the new locality; and second, the intention to
           remain there. The change cannot be made, except facto et animo. Both are alike
           necessary. Either without the other is insufficient. Mere absence from a fixed
           home, however long continued, cannot work the change. There must be animus to
    
                                                    13
           change the prior domicile for another. Until the new one is acquired, the old one
           remains. . . . When challenged as here, the burden rested on him [the plaintiff] to
           show by a preponderance of the evidence that he was a citizen of that State.
    
    
    Welsh, 186 F.2d at 17 (internal citations omitted); see also Garcia v. Koch Oil Co. of Tex. Inc.,
    
    
    351 F.3d 636
    , 638-39 (5th Cir. 2003). Absent specific language in the statute specifying a
    
    different evidentiary standard, we employ the time-honored standard routinely applied to the
    
    fundamental question of citizenship: proof by a preponderance of the evidence.
    
           3.      Evidence Adduced to Prove Citizenship Requirement
    
           In an order dated August 22, 2006, the district court acknowledged that “limited
    
    discovery is required in order to determine whether it has jurisdiction, particularly in regards to
    
    Lifecare’s claim that removal is proper under . . . [CAFA].” Accordingly, the district court
    
    ordered that Memorial “shall provide the Plaintiffs and Lifecare with patient information which
    
    will permit these parties to identify the patients who suffered personal injuries, including death,
    
    during the relevant period; these patients’ addresses and phone numbers; as well as next of kin.”
    
    In a second order, dated August 30, 2006, the district court required Memorial to “provide an
    
    affidavit of a Memorial representative attesting to the percentage of patients at issue, both
    
    deceased and living, with Louisiana addresses and percentage of those with addresses outside
    
    Louisiana.” After the district court entered these orders, Preston moved to withdraw her motion
    
    to remand, and on September 26, 2006, the district court granted this motion.
    
                   a.     Residency: Medical Records and Current Addresses
    
           Both Memorial and LifeCare submitted evidence in response to the district court’s order.
    
    Memorial’s Medical Records Supervisor, Hal Rome, submitted two affidavits averring to the
    
    
    
    
                                                    14
    residency of patients hospitalized when Hurricane Katrina made landfall. In the first affidavit,
    
    Rome avers to the following facts:
    
            That he has reviewed the complete list of all patients hospitalized at Memorial
            Medical Center at the time that Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005.
            That list contains a total of 256 patients. Of that total population of patients, the
            hospital’s records show that 7 of those 256 patients, or 2.83% of the total,
            provided information to the hospital at the time they registered as patients
            indicating that they were residents of states other than Louisiana.
    
    In his second affidavit, Rome produced a list showing that thirty-five patients died after the
    
    hurricane and records showing that two of the deceased patients gave out-of-state addresses.
    
    These same two patients were the only deceased persons that listed emergency contacts with
    
    telephone numbers outside of the New Orleans calling area.
    
            LifeCare retained a private investigator, Robert Mazur, to trace the current mailing
    
    addresses of potential class members located throughout the country. LifeCare maintained that
    
    forty-nine of 146 persons identified as potential class members, more than one-third, currently
    
    reside outside of Louisiana.     LifeCare’s citizenship numbers include patients and surviving
    
    beneficiaries.   In assessing these documents, the district court noted that “this information
    
    presents a valuable indication of the citizenship of the proposed class” but admonished
    
    LifeCare’s failure to prove “residence and intent, both at the date the suit was filed.” The district
    
    court reasoned that “LifeCare did not provide information regarding the length of time that these
    
    individuals have been residing outside of Louisiana . . . . Additionally, if these individuals were
    
    in fact displaced, LifeCare did not indicate whether these individuals intend to remain in their
    
    new state of residence.”
    
            We agree with the district court’s treatment of LifeCare’s rebuttal evidence. The pre-
    
    Katrina addresses in the medical records, however, only make a prima facie showing of
    
    
                                                     15
    domicile, and citizenship requires residency and the intent to return or remain in the state. Stine,
    
    213 F.2d at 448; Miss. Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield, 
    490 U.S. 30
    , 48 (1989). A party’s
    
    residence alone does not establish domicile. Mas v. Perry, 
    489 F.2d 1396
    , 1399 (5th Cir. 1974).
    
    We now turn to the evidence establishing intent, the second element of citizenship.
    
                   b.      Intent: Statements from Potential Class Members
    
           Memorial presented no evidence from its records to demonstrate that the hospitalized
    
    patients not only resided in Orleans Parish at the given addresses but also were domiciled in
    
    Louisiana at the time of Hurricane Katrina and at the time of filing suit. As the movant, it relies
    
    on the additional evidence filed by the plaintiffs. Preston submitted eight affidavits regarding
    
    the intent of potential class members to return to New Orleans, Louisiana, even though they
    
    currently resided in a different state. The named plaintiffs provided six of the eight affidavits.
    
    For example, the affidavit of Darlene Preston states her former address in New Orleans prior to
    
    Hurricane Katrina; her current address in Houston, Texas; and concludes by stating that “[s]he is
    
    planning on returning as soon as housing becomes available to her.          She is a resident and
    
    domiciliary of and has always intended on returning to the City of New Orleans.”4 The affidavit
    
    of Aster Abraham, currently residing in Dallas, Texas, states that she and her husband
    
    
    
           4
            The affidavit of Darlene Preston reads as follows:
    
    That she is the daughter of Leon Preston who was a patient at Memorial Medical Center in the City
    of New Orleans. Mr. Preston was a patient at Memorial Medical Center prior to Hurricane Katrina
    and remained in the hospital during the Hurricane where he died. She is a resident and domiciliary
    of the City of New Orleans, State of Louisiana living at 3619 St. Bernard Avenue, Apt. B, in New
    Orleans. She was forced to evacuate the City of New Orleans due to Hurricane Katrina. She is
    currently staying at 11315 Fondren Road, Apt. 116, Houston, Texas, 77035. She is planning on
    returning as soon as housing becomes available to her. She is a resident and domiciliary of and has
    always intended on returning to the City of New Orleans.
    
                                                    16
    “completed repairs of the family home and she is returning July 2006.” Similarly, Terry Gaines-
    
    Oden, currently residing in the Colony, Texas, avers that “she has every intention on returning as
    
    soon as her house is repaired.”        These affidavits unequivocally evince the intent of these
    
    plaintiffs to not change their domicile.
    
           LifeCare contends that the affidavits should receive little weight under Circuit precedent
    
    because the documents show only the subjective intent of the parties. This court gives little
    
    weight to statements of intent evidence, however, only when the subjective evidence conflicts
    
    with the objective facts in the record. Coury, 85 F.3d at 251. LifeCare points to no objective
    
    evidence in the record indicating that the affidavits misrepresented the plaintiffs’ intent of
    
    returning to New Orleans. To the contrary, in its reply brief to this court, LifeCare accepted the
    
    medical records and affidavits as undisputed facts.5
    
           In addition to the medical records and affidavits, LifeCare suggests that Memorial should
    
    adduce evidence of citizenship in accordance with traditional diversity cases involving one
    
    defendant. Prior to CAFA, the removing parties only needed to show citizenship with respect to
    
    the named plaintiffs. § 1332(d)(3)-(4). “The factors [considered by the district court] may
    
    include the places where the litigant exercises civil and political rights, pays taxes, owns real and
    
    personal property, has driver’s and other licenses, maintains bank accounts, belongs to clubs and
    
    churches, has places of business or employment, and maintains a home for his family.” Acridge,
    
    334 F.3d at 448 (quoting Coury, 85 F.3d at 251). This suggestion not only affects the moving
    
    party but suggests that at this threshold stage of the case, the district court must engage in the
    
    
           5
            The opening paragraph of LifeCare’s reply brief declares that “[t]he issue is not
    resolving competing versions of discrete facts. . . . The question is whether these
    averments–undisputed and taken as true–permit the court to conclude that two-thirds of the
    members of the proposed class were Louisiana citizens when the suit was filed.”
    
                                                     17
    arduous task of examining the domicile of every proposed class member before ruling on the
    
    citizenship requirement. We decline to adopt such a heightened burden of proof considering the
    
    far greater number of plaintiffs involved in a class action as compared to the traditional diversity
    
    case. From a practical standpoint, class action lawsuits may become “totally unworkable in a
    
    diversity case if the citizenship of all members of the class, many of them unknown, had to be
    
    considered.” CHARLES ALAN WRIGHT, LAW          OF   FEDERAL COURTS § 72, at 521 (5th ed. 1994).
    
    The requisite showing under CAFA prompts this court to reconcile congressional intent, our
    
    precedent for determining citizenship, and judicial economy. Thus, the evidentiary standard for
    
    establishing the domicile of more than one hundred plaintiffs must be based on practicality and
    
    reasonableness.
    
           “The [district] court has wide, but not unfettered, discretion to determine what evidence
    
    to use in making its determination of jurisdiction.” Coury, 85 F.3d at 249 (citing Ray v. Bird &
    
    Son & Asset Realization Co., 
    519 F.2d 1081
     (5th Cir. 1975)). Preston admitted the statements of
    
    eight potential class members. The district court concluded that the affidavits “suggest that at
    
    least some displaced proposed class members intend to return to New Orleans in the near future.
    
    Each of these individuals state that they lived in New Orleans at the time of the hurricane, but
    
    were forced to evacuate to another state. However, they continue to have every intention of
    
    returning to the New Orleans area.”
    
           In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and the compounding effects of the breached levees,
    
    nearly eighty percent of New Orleans was engulfed in flood waters rising over twenty feet in
    
    lower-lying areas.   These cataclysmic events damaged, destroyed, or rendered inaccessible
    
    
    
    
                                                    18
    approximately 850,000 housing units.6 Left with no other option, authorities vested with the
    
    responsibility of public safety forced people to evacuate New Orleans in any available mode of
    
    transportation. The underlying facts of this lawsuit and the reason for the parties contesting the
    
    citizenship issue emanate from a common origin of circumstances: the unmerciful devastation
    
    caused by Hurricane Katrina. As an inevitable result of the property damage and evacuation, a
    
    great majority of the city’s population either temporarily or permanently relocated to habitable
    
    areas of Louisiana and other states.     In this case, the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina and
    
    attendant flooding serves as a common precipitating factor for the mass relocation pertinent to
    
    our citizenship determination and threads together the proposed class and many other citizens.
    
    The sheer magnitude of this shared catalyst formed an adequate backdrop for the district court’s
    
    extrapolation that the reasons offered by the affiants for not immediately returning home, i.e.
    
    repairing the family home, finding gainful employment, and waiting for the availability of
    
    housing units, were probably representative of many other proposed class members.
    
           The Fifth Amended Petition for Damages defines a circumscribed class that includes “all
    
    patients of Memorial and LifeCare who sustained injuries . . . and all persons who sustained
    
    personal injury as a result of the deaths or personal injuries to patients of LifeCare and
    
    Memorial.” The eight affidavits in and of themselves are not dispositive proof that at least one-
    
    third of the defined putative class were citizens of Louisiana at the time in which the suit was
    
    filed. The uncontroverted affidavits of eight beneficiaries stating an intent to return to New
    
    Orleans, the emergency contact phone numbers of the deceased patients, and the uncontroverted
    
    
           6
            Pursuant to Fed. R. Evid. 201(b), this court may take judicial notice of facts “generally
    known within the territorial jurisdiction of the trial court ” or “capable of accurate and ready
    determination by resort to sources whose accuracy cannot reasonably be questioned.”
    
    
                                                    19
    data gathered from the medical records, however, permitted the district court to make a
    
    reasonable assumption that at least one-third of the class members were citizens of Louisiana
    
    during the relevant time period regardless of the rebuttal evidence placed in the record. Upon
    
    reviewing the medical records, Rome averred that only seven of the 256 patients hospitalized at
    
    the time of Hurricane Katrina gave permanent addresses outside the state of Louisiana, which
    
    equates to 2.83% of the total number of hospitalized patients. The putative class cannot extend
    
    significantly beyond this finite number of persons because in this case, we are not presented with
    
    an immeasurably amorphous proposed class. See, e.g., Evans, 449 F.3d at 1166 (The plaintiffs
    
    defined a class of property owners and persons suffering personal injury as the result of harmful
    
    toxins released by over eighteen defendant-manufacturers spanning a time period of
    
    approximately eighty-five years.); Schwartz v. Comcast Corp., 
    2006 WL 487915
     (E.D. Pa. 2006)
    
    (The defined class included plaintiffs aggrieved by a cable company’s alleged failure to provide
    
    high speed internet service to various businesses and residents in a multi-state area.). Thus, the
    
    discrete number of patients hospitalized at Memorial when Hurricane Katrina made landfall
    
    constitutes a reasonable estimate of the total class for determining the preliminary jurisdictional
    
    question of citizenship.
    
           Although the actual number of patients and beneficiaries remains an open question, the
    
    unequivocal affidavits of eight beneficiaries in conjunction with the residency information
    
    gleaned from the emergency contact data of the deceased patients gave the district court a
    
    reasonable indication as to the citizenship of these unaccounted for persons. LifeCare identified
    
    the current residences of only 146 potential class members to rebut the medical records and
    
    affiavits, but LifeCare’s evidence fails to demonstrate an intent to change domicile by any of the
    
    
                                                    20
    identified persons. Even though eight affidavits may constitute a small number of statements
    
    outside the unique convergence of facts presented in this case, we find that here, the affidavits
    
    amplify the court’s carefully reasoned conclusion about the probable citizenship of the proposed
    
    class of hospitalized patients and their beneficiaries. Therefore, based on the record as a whole,
    
    the district court made a reasonable assumption that at least one-third of the class were Louisiana
    
    citizens at the time of filing the lawsuit on October 6, 2005, less than two months after the storm
    
    hit New Orleans. We do not find the district court’s findings of fact clearly erroneous.
    
                   c.      Presumption of Continuing Domicile
    
           Memorial argues that based on the presumption of continuing domicile, LifeCare bears
    
    the burden to show that the displaced Hurricane Katrina victims possess no intention of returning
    
    to New Orleans, Louisiana. LifeCare contends that its evidence rebuts any presumption that a
    
    person residing in the New Orleans area at the time of Hurricane Katrina continued to reside
    
    there when suit was filed. Moreover, LifeCare proposes that the presumption is inapplicable in
    
    this case due to the massive relocation of over half of the city’s population. We find this
    
    argument unpersuasive, and further, we find no precedential support for the notion that a forced
    
    relocation (especially, a mandatory evacuation prompted by a natural disaster) destroys the
    
    presumption of continued domicile. See Delinger v. Brennan, 
    87 F.3d 214
    , 216 (7th Cir. 1996)
    
    (“Since domicile is a voluntary status, a forcible change in a person’s state of residence does not
    
    alter his domicile; hence the domicile of a prisoner before he was imprisoned is presumed to
    
    remain his domicile while he is in prison. . . . [T]he presumption articulated in Sullivan is
    
    rebuttable, but on this meager record it has not been rebutted.”) (internal citations and quotes
    
    omitted); Fort Knox Transit v. Humphrey, 
    151 F.2d 602
    , 602 (6th Cir. 1945) (“[U]pon the whole
    
    record and in the absence of any challenge to the jurisdiction, the plaintiff’s residence in Ohio is
    
                                                    21
    prima facie evidence of his citizenship in that state and is not overthrown by residence in
    
    Kentucky as a member of the Armed Forces of the United States, and there being no substantial
    
    evidence of voluntary relinquishment of an Ohio domicile.”).
    
           “There is a presumption in favor of [a person’s] continuing domicile which requires the
    
    party seeking to show a change in domicile to come forward with enough evidence to that effect
    
    . . . .” Coury, 85 F.3d at 251. The law of continuing domicile gains special significance in light
    
    of the natural disaster forming the factual basis of this appeal. In a recent case analyzing the
    
    citizenship requirement of the local controversy exception, a district court recognized that
    
    “[g]iven the forced evacuation for several months from several south Louisiana parishes as a
    
    result of Katrina, it is reasonable to assume that residents of these parishes might change their
    
    addresses in the immediate aftermath of the storm without changing their domiciles.” Caruso v.
    
    Allstate Ins. Co., 
    469 F. Supp. 2d 364
     (E.D. La. 2007) (denying the motion to remand on other
    
    grounds under the local controversy exception).       The court described its conclusion as a
    
    “common-sense presumption” applied to a “closed-end class.” Id.
    
           We agree with the notion that the damage and destruction wrought by Hurricane Katrina
    
    warrants the court’s incorporation of common-sense as part of the calculus in determining the
    
    citizenship of the class members.     While cognizant that the patient addresses provided by
    
    Memorial do not definitively reflect the patients’ domicile at the time of filing suit, as required
    
    under traditional diversity standards, we also consider the common genesis of the historically
    
    unprecedented exodus from New Orleans in our assessment of the citizenship issue. In light of
    
    the vast post-Katrina diaspora and the undisputably slow revitalization in parts of New Orleans,
    
    it is unreasonable to demand precise empirical evidence of citizenship in a class action lawsuit
    
    
                                                    22
    filed less than sixty days after the hurricane and related flooding. Many Hurricane Katrina
    
    victims may intend to return home yet are still dispersed throughout Louisiana and other states
    
    for reasons beyond their control, such as not having shelter and employment in the New Orleans
    
    area. Therefore, we find the presumption of continuing domicile relevant in this case.
    
                    d.     Population Survey Data
    
             On appeal, LifeCare cites to a 2006 Louisiana Health and Population Survey Report,
    
    conducted by the Louisiana Public Health Institute on behalf of the Louisiana Department of
    
    Health and Hospitals. The survey estimated that the 2004 population of 444,515 persons living
    
    in Orleans Parish decreased dramatically to 191,139 persons after Hurricane Katrina. Based on
    
    surveys returned during June and October 2006, the Louisiana Department of Health and
    
    Hospitals published the report on January 17, 2007.
    
             We find this survey to be much too broad to rebut the presumed citizenship of a class
    
    member. First, the survey data represents only an initial analysis conducted less than a year after
    
    Hurricane Katrina. Second, the published data only accounts for population decreases in the
    
    Orleans Parish area, while CAFA’s citizenship requirement looks to citizenship in the state.
    
    Third, the submitted survey gives a disclaimer that “a comprehensive final report for all parishes
    
    will be produced when the project is completed and all parish specific reports are released.”
    
    This statement clearly indicates that the project remains a work-in-progress and lends little
    
    insight into determining the number of class members no longer located in Louisiana due to the
    
    forced evacuation after Hurricane Katrina. Accordingly, we deem the census data as non-
    
    probative on whether one-third of the class members were domiciled in Louisiana at the time of
    
    filing suit.
    
             4.     Determination of Class Size
    
                                                    23
           LifeCare argues that Memorial fails to establish the number of people composing the
    
    proposed class. Arguably, without knowing the number of persons in the class, the court cannot
    
    determine whether one-third of the class members are citizens of Louisiana. Citing Frazier and
    
    Evans, LifeCare asserts that the statute requires concrete proof of the number of class members
    
    as a prerequisite to ruling on the citizenship requirement. In Frazier, the court rejected plaintiff’s
    
    argument, under the local controversy exception, that the Department of Environmental Quality
    
    was a citizen of Louisiana by citing the “long-settled [rule] that a state has no citizenship for §
    
    1332(a) diversity purposes.” 455 F.3d at 547. Thus, the court never reached the statutory
    
    citizenship requirement.
    
           In Evans, plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit in Alabama state court on behalf of a class
    
    of persons allegedly injured by the actions of eighteen named defendants and fictitious
    
    defendants. 449 F.3d at 1161. The plaintiffs alleged that the defendants operated manufacturing
    
    facilities in the Anniston, Alabama area. Id. In their petition, plaintiffs claimed that defendants
    
    released various waste substances over an approximately eighty-five-year period, resulting in
    
    property damage and personal injury. Id. The attorney introduced evidence of interviews with
    
    over 10,000 potential plaintiffs and determined that 5,200 persons qualified for class
    
    membership. Id. at 1166.          Of the potential class members, over ninety percent resided in
    
    Alabama; therefore, the court could conceivably extrapolate that two-thirds of the entire class
    
    were citizens of the state. Id.
    
           The Eleventh Circuit found this evidence insufficient to prove the citizenship
    
    requirement under the local controversy exception. The Evans court highlighted deficiencies in
    
    the evidence, reasoning that the affidavit of the class attorney provided no information “about
    
    
                                                      24
    how she selected the 10,118 people who were considered potential plaintiffs. . . . [W]e know
    
    nothing about the percentage of the total class represented by the 10,118 people on which
    
    plaintiff’s evidence depends.”    449 F.3d at 1166.     In connecting the evidence to the class
    
    definition, the Eleventh Circuit concluded that “the class, as defined in the complaint, is
    
    extremely broad, extending over an 84-year period. We do not know if Smith made any effort to
    
    estimate the number of people with claims who no longer live in Alabama. . . . We have no way
    
    of knowing what percentage of the plaintiff class are Alabama citizens.” Id. Notwithstanding
    
    the apparently cumbersome investigative work completed by counsel, the Eleventh Circuit
    
    “conclude[d] that the evidence adduced by the plaintiffs wholly fails to present a credible
    
    estimate of the percentage of the plaintiff class who are citizens of Alabama.” Id. (emphasis
    
    added)
    
             Here, we conclude that the submitted evidence provides an adequate basis for the district
    
    court to make a credible estimate of the class members domiciled in Louisiana. CAFA requires
    
    the district court to make a threshold jurisdictional determination. Thus, the district court must
    
    balance the need for discovery while not unduly delaying the resolution of this preliminary
    
    question. The statute compensates for the inability to conduct an in-depth fact finding mission
    
    by permitting defendants to remove the case to federal court at any point in the litigation. §
    
    1453(b) (eliminating 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)’s one-year time limit).
    
             As defined, this proposed class includes patients hospitalized at the time of Hurricane
    
    Katrina and their beneficiaries asserting damages for personal injury, wrongful death, and
    
    derivative claims. Memorial bears an affirmative burden to establish the domicile of at least
    
    one-third of the class members under the discretionary jurisdiction provision, which logically
    
    requires determining the size of the putative class. The pre-Katrina addresses in the medical
    
                                                    25
    records partially satisfy this burden but provide no basis for determining the total number of
    
    potential class members. The district court, however, considered the “addresses and phone
    
    numbers of those patients who died at Memorial within the relevant time period, as well as the
    
    phone numbers of the patients’ emergency contacts listed on their medical forms.”
    
           At this preliminary stage, it is unnecessary for the district court to permit exhaustive
    
    discovery capable of determining the exact class size to an empirical certainty. Even though a
    
    party should take care in defining the putative class, the specificity argued for by LifeCare more
    
    appropriately occurs during class certification. Under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23, the district court must
    
    “evaluate with rigor the claims, defenses, relevant facts and applicable substantive law in order
    
    to make a meaningful determination of the certification issues.” Unger v. Amedisys Inc., 
    401 F.3d 316
    , 321 (5th Cir. 2005). At the certification stage, the plaintiff must provide evidence or a
    
    reasonable estimate of purported class members. Then, the class size weighs in the district
    
    court’s certification calculus. Robinson v. Tex. Auto. Dealers Ass’n, 
    387 F.3d 416
    , 421 (5th Cir.
    
    2004); James v. City of Dallas, Tex., 
    254 F.3d 551
     (5th Cir. 2001), cert. denied, 
    534 U.S. 1113
    
    (2002). Moreover, we are not presented with a situation wherein the district court stymied the
    
    parties’ efforts to marshal evidence and conduct discovery. Neither Memorial nor LifeCare
    
    contends that the district court thwarted their ability to gather relevant information by
    
    evidentiary rulings; to the contrary, the district court encouraged the introduction of evidence
    
    through two orders of the court.
    
           The defined class clearly involves a finite group of persons: patients hospitalized in
    
    Memorial Medical Center at the time that Hurricane Katrina made landfall. We would probably
    
    invoke a different analysis if, for example, the class definition included persons trapped in the
    
    
                                                    26
    Ninth Ward in the hours and days following Hurricane Katrina and the levee breach. Under this
    
    hypothetical, the ability to quantify such a class, much less parse renters from property owners
    
    and other relevant complications, would require more evidence than before the court in this
    
    appeal. Here, we know the number of patients. We also know the patients’ names, emergency
    
    contact information for the deceased patients, and the discrete time period of the episodic event
    
    giving rise to the litigation. Moreover, we are not dealing with a class of patients receiving
    
    medical care from a national hospital that regularly services out-of-state patients. Memorial
    
    Medical Center is a local health care facility primarily servicing the local citizens of New
    
    Orleans, as evinced by the local addresses and phone numbers found in the medical records.
    
    Only seven patients hospitalized at the time of Hurricane Katrina listed an out-of-state address
    
    on their medical forms. The proposed class in this case contemplates a concretely defined group
    
    as opposed to the abstractly defined classes ruled on in Evans and discussed in the above
    
    hypothetical.
    
            Unlike Evans, the crux of this case revolves around a narrowly defined class and claims
    
    stemming from a localized chain of events. In aligning these circumstances and the adduced
    
    evidence, we are not in the position of having to put a square peg in a round hole. Instead, we
    
    are dealing with the congruence of fitted pieces. Keeping in mind the measurable bounds of the
    
    proposed class, we conclude that the district court made a reasonable inference regarding the
    
    temporary dual residency of the displaced Louisiana citizens at issue in this case. The record
    
    reflects that the plaintiffs defined a reasonably confined class and the district court, based on a
    
    preponderance of the evidence, made a credible estimate that at least one-third of the class were
    
    citizens of Louisiana at the time of filing suit.
    
            5.      Statutory Factors for Determining the Interest of Justice
    
                                                        27
                   a.      Whether Claims Involve National or Interstate Interest
    
           LifeCare argues that the evacuation of medical and other facilities during disasters such
    
    as Hurricane Katrina is an issue of national concern. This broad statement could swallow the
    
    rule, however, as many events isolated to one area at any particular time may reoccur in another
    
    geographic location in the future. Under CAFA, the terms local and national connote whether
    
    the interests of justice would be violated by a state court exercising jurisdiction over a large
    
    number of out-of-state citizens and applying the laws of other states. Just because the nation
    
    takes interest in Hurricane Katrina does not mean that the legal claims at issue in this class action
    
    lawsuit qualify as national or interstate interest. The factual scenario presented in this class
    
    action involves two Louisiana businesses operating a local hospital during a natural disaster
    
    destroying New Orleans and the compounded devastation of the local levee breach.                The
    
    evacuation plans, building maintenance, and emergency care procedures are the work product
    
    and property of these local entities. Moreover, the district court denied any federal basis for
    
    jurisdiction after reviewing the class action petition, and neither party appealed this ruling. For
    
    these reasons, although the nation may still be watching the ever-evolving after effects of
    
    Hurricane Katrina, this class action lawsuit does not affect national interest as contemplated
    
    under the statute.
    
                   b.      Whether Claims Are Governed by Louisiana Law and Whether the Class
                           Action Was Pleaded to Avoid Federal Jurisdiction
    
           The plaintiffs in this case assert a variety of negligence claims based on the delayed
    
    evacuation of patients from Memorial Medical Center after Hurricane Katrina made landfall.
    
    The majority of the claims asserted in the class petition involve negligence issues governed
    
    
    
                                                     28
    under Louisiana law. Specifically, Memorial and LifeCare argue that the Louisiana Medical
    
    Malpractice Act, L.S.A. R.S. 40:1299.41, et seq., governs the plaintiffs’ causes of action.
    
           LifeCare unsuccessfully attempted to remove this case under § 1331, asserting that the
    
    plaintiffs’ Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”) claim constituted
    
    a federal question, which mandated original federal jurisdiction over the lawsuit. The district
    
    court concluded that “a viable cause of action under federal law does not exist for “reverse
    
    patient dumping” and thus does not confer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331. . . . Even if it
    
    could be argued that federal jurisdiction may exist for the EMTALA claim, the Court finds that
    
    the state-law claims predominate over the case in its entirety and thus remand under 28 U.S.C. §
    
    1441(c) is appropriate.” Neither party disputes the district court’s holding on this issue in their
    
    appeal to this court.    Moreover, the record does not indicate that the plaintiffs’ intentionally
    
    pleaded the case in a manner to avoid federal jurisdiction and neither defendant asserts such an
    
    allegation. Accordingly, the class action lawsuit as pleaded satisfies these two requirements.
    
                   c.       Whether a Distinct Nexus Exists between the Forum and the Class
                            Members, Alleged Harm, and the Defendants
    
           The conduct alleged in the class action petition as causing the deaths and injuries of
    
    patients hospitalized at Memorial and LifeCare occurred at the defendants’ medical facilities in
    
    New Orleans, Louisiana. Memorial owned and operated the hospital, and LifeCare leased one
    
    floor of the hospital for the operation of an acute care center. Both Memorial and LifeCare are
    
    Louisiana corporations organized under the laws of the state, and based on the medical records,
    
    nearly ninety-seven percent of the patients permanently resided in Louisiana at the time of
    
    admission to these health centers. In light of the localized events giving rise to the alleged
    
    negligent conduct and the undisputed residency and citizenship information of the patients and
    
    
                                                    29
    the healthcare providers, we conclude that a distinct nexus exists between the forum of Louisiana
    
    and the class members, alleged harm, and the defendants.
    
                   d.      State Citizenship of the Class Members
    
           For the reasons thoroughly discussed in the citizenship analysis, we conclude that the
    
    “number of citizens of the State in which the action was originally filed in all proposed plaintiff
    
    classes in the aggregate is substantially larger than the number of citizens from any other State,
    
    and the citizenship of the other members of the proposed class is dispersed among a substantial
    
    number of States.” Based on the record, an overwhelming number of patients permanently
    
    resided in New Orleans, Louisiana, and the vast majority of the emergency contact phone
    
    numbers listed for the deceased patients have the New Orleans area code. After the hurricane,
    
    many New Orleans residents were forced to relocate to surrounding areas in Louisiana and other
    
    states. As evinced through the affidavits, however, citizens of Louisiana are hindered from
    
    immediately acting on their desires to move back home due to employment, housing, and other
    
    related issues. Undoubtedly, some evacuees hold no intention of returning to Louisiana but
    
    surely are dispersed throughout the nation as opposed to one other state. For these reasons, we
    
    determine that the proposed class meets this requirement.
    
                   e.      Whether Similar Class Actions Filed in Preceding Three-Year Period
    
           We find no evidence, and neither party raises the issue, of a class action being filed
    
    during the three-year period preceding the filing of this class action asserting the same or similar
    
    claims on behalf of the same or other persons.
    
                                           V. CONCLUSION
    
    
    
    
                                                     30
           We recognize that Congress crafted CAFA to exclude only a narrow category of truly
    
    localized controversies, and the exceptions provide a statutory vehicle for the district courts to
    
    ferret out the “controversy that uniquely affects a particular locality to the exclusion of all
    
    others.”   Evans, 449 F.3d at 1164.       This particular Hurricane Katrina case symbolizes a
    
    quintessential example of Congress’ intent to carve-out exceptions to CAFA’s expansive grant
    
    of federal jurisdiction when our courts confront a truly localized controversy. Based on the
    
    medical records, affidavits, and attending factual circumstances, we determine that the district
    
    court did not clearly err in finding that one-third of the class members were citizens of Louisiana
    
    at the time of filing suit. Accordingly, we affirm the district court’s judgment. Further, we deny
    
    Memorial’s and Preston’s motion to vacate this court’s extension order as applied to this case
    
    and motion to dismiss this appeal.
    
    
    
    
                                                    31
    

Document Info

DocketNumber: 07-30160

Filed Date: 4/30/2007

Precedential Status: Precedential

Modified Date: 12/21/2014

Authorities (23)

Welch v. Thompson , 20 F.3d 636 ( 1994 )

Coury v. Prot , 85 F.3d 244 ( 1996 )

James v. City of Dallas , 254 F.3d 551 ( 2001 )

Smith v. Amedisys Inc , 298 F.3d 434 ( 2002 )

Garcia v. Koch Oil Co TX Inc , 351 F.3d 636 ( 2003 )

Robinson v. TX Auto Dealers Assn , 387 F.3d 416 ( 2004 )

Frazier v. Pioneer Americas LLC , 455 F.3d 542 ( 2006 )

Isaiah Evans v. Walter Industries , 449 F.3d 1159 ( 2006 )

Anderson v. Bessemer City , 470 U.S. 564 ( 1985 )

Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians v. Holyfield , 490 U.S. 30 ( 1989 )

Welsh v. American Surety Co. Of New York , 186 F.2d 16 ( 1951 )

Stine v. Moore , 213 F.2d 446 ( 1954 )

jean-paul-mas-and-judy-mas-v-oliver-h-perry-no-73-3008-summary , 489 F.2d 1396 ( 1974 )

Bruce Wayne Ray v. Bird and Son and Asset Realization ... , 519 F.2d 1081 ( 1975 )

Heriberto Carrasco-Favela v. Immigration & Naturalization ... , 563 F.2d 1220 ( 1977 )

Gifton Jones, Jr., and Gracie Jones v. W. O. Fitch, Trustee , 665 F.2d 586 ( 1982 )

irvin-kaplan-v-clear-lake-city-water-authority-city-of-taylor-lake , 794 F.2d 1059 ( 1986 )

Tony Campos, Cross-Appellants v. City of Baytown, Texas, ... , 840 F.2d 1240 ( 1988 )

stanley-j-denlinger-as-administrator-of-the-estate-of-elmer-denlinger , 87 F.3d 214 ( 1996 )

thomas-palazzo-an-infant-under-the-age-of-fourteen-14-years-by-his , 232 F.3d 38 ( 2000 )

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