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Nessel v. Amerigas Partners, L.P.

United States District Court, E.D. Michigan, Southern Division

September 30, 2019

DANA NESSEL, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF MICHIGAN, ex rel. The People of the State of Michigan, Plaintiff,
v.
AMERIGAS PARTNERS, L.P., AMERIGAS PROPANE, L.P., RURAL GAS & APPLIANCE, SCHULTZ BOTTLE GAS, Defendants.

          ORDER REMANDING TO STATE COURT

          TERRENCE G. BERG, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Before the Court is Plaintiff’s Motion for Remand to State Court. ECF No. 4.

         I. Introduction

         In October 2016, Plaintiff Bill Schuette[1], the Attorney General of the State of Michigan (“AG”), undertook an investigation of Defendants’ (“Amerigas”) propane sales in Michigan. Complaint, ECF No. 1-2, PageID.15–16. Upon the conclusion of the investigation, Plaintiff filed a complaint in the Circuit Court for the 38th Judicial Circuit in Monroe County, Michigan (“State Court”). See ECF No. 1-2. The Complaint alleges that Defendants’ pricing practices violated several aspects of the Michigan Consumer Protection Act, Mich. Comp. Laws 445.901 et seq. (“MCPA”). The Complaint states:

The Attorney General is authorized to bring this action under MCL 445.905 and MCL 445.910. The Attorney General may obtain injunctive relief, actual damages, and other appropriate relief under the Michigan Consumer Protection Act (MCPA), MCL 445.901 et seq. And the Attorney General may bring a parens patriae action to pursue tort and individual claims under MCL 445.911 to vindicate consumer rights.

ECF No. 1-2, PageID.13–14. On September 21, 2018, Plaintiff filed in State Court a “Consolidated Motion for Class Certification and Supporting Brief.” ECF No. 1-3.

         On October 12, 2018, pursuant to a notice by Defendants, the case was removed to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. ECF No. 1. Defendants assert that federal jurisdiction over this matter is proper under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). ECF No. 1, PageID.3.

         Plaintiff opposes removal, contending that the action is not a “class action” as defined under CAFA and was improperly removed to this Court. Plaintiff moves to remand the case back to State Court. ECF No. 4.

         For the reasons outlined below, Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand is GRANTED, and the case is hereby remanded to the Circuit Court for the 38th Judicial Circuit in Monroe County, Michigan.

         II. Removability Under CAFA

         A. Contentions

         Defendants contend that the action is removable under CAFA because:

(a) Plaintiff in the State Court Action has sought to certify a putative class action under Michigan law; (b) at least one member of the putative class is a citizen of a different state than Defendants; (c) the number of class members alleged by plaintiff in the aggregate is larger than 100; and ...

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