Ambiguous petition = no CAFA remand.

chesapeake logoA plaintiff class alleged that Chesapeake’s oil and gas production in the Fort Worth area trespassed on their property interests.  The defendants removed under CAFA, the district court remanded under that statute’s “local controversy exception,” and the Fifth Circuit reversed.  The key appellate issue was whether the plaintiff class was “narrow” — only current owners of mineral interests — or “broad” — current and former interests since a series of foreclosures began in 2004.  The plaintiffs could prove the requisite citizenship to establish the exception for the narrow class, but not the broad.  The panel majority found the plaintiffs’ pleading was ambiguous on this point, and based on that conclusion, remanded for a failure to prove that element of the exception.  A dissent took issue with the construction of the pleading and what it called “a new rule” of a “presumption in favor of federal jurisdiction.” Arbuckle Mountain Ranch of Texas v. Chesapeake Energy Corp., No. 15-10955 (Jan. 7, 2016).

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