Coleman v. Estes Express Lines, Inc., 627 F.3d 745 (2010)

Bradford Coleman sued his employer, Estes Express Lines and its regional division Estes West, in state court for alleged violations of California wage and hour statutes. Estes Express removed the action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), and Coleman filed a successful motion to remand it back to state court on the ground that the case was a “local controversy” in which at least one of the primary defendants was from the same state as more than two-thirds of the members of the proposed class. Estes Express (not a citizen of California) argued that its employees, and not Estes West’s, would have been responsible for the alleged violations and that only it had the ability to satisfy any judgment, and, therefore, this was not a “local controversy.” The district court granted Coleman’s motion to remand based on the pleadings alone, and Estes Express sought leave from the Ninth Circuit to appeal the remand order, which the Ninth Circuit granted given the “presence of an important CAFA-related question”– namely, whether the district court must rely only upon the pleadings as the district court did in this case or whether it can consider extrinsic evidence in deciding a motion to remand the case to state court. Compare Dalton v. Lee Publ’ns, 625 F.3d 1220 (9th Cir. 2010) (dissent from order denying petition for permission to appeal district court order granting class action certification).