CAFA jurisdiction not established in mass tort case

Class actions were filed about the effects of an explosion at a chemical plant.  The Fifth Circuit agreed that CAFA jurisdiction had not been established.  Citing Berniard v. Dow Chem. Co., 481 F. App’x 859 (5th Cir. 2010), the Court held: “[D]efendants ‘overstate the reach of the plaintiffs’ petitions by improperly equating the geographic areas in which potential plaintiffs might reside with the population of the plaintiff class itself.  Further, the comparisons that the Defendants-Appellants make to damage recovery in similar cases is too attenuated to satisfy their burden.'”  Perritt v. Westlake Vinyls Company, L.P., No. 14-30145 (April 14, 2014, unpublished).  The Court also noted: “Bald exposure extrapolations are insufficient to establish the likely number of persons affected by the release or, for those affected, the severity of their harm.”

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