United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
ORDER ON REMAND
Honorable Marsha J. Pechman United States Senior District
above-entitled Court, having received and reviewed:
1. State of Washington's Motion to Remand (Dkt. No. 7),
2. Defendants' Opposition to Motion to Remand (Dkt. No.
3. State of Washington's Reply in Support of Motion to
Remand (Dkt. No. 9), all attached declarations and exhibits,
and relevant portions of the record, rules as follows:
ORDERED that the motion is GRANTED and this matter is
REMANDED to King County Superior Court.
FURTHER ORDERED that, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c),
Defendants shall pay to Plaintiff the “just cost and
any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a
result of the removal.” The State of Washington shall
submit a request, with declaration and proposed order, to
that effect within seven (7) days of the entry of this order.
Defendants shall file any response (not to exceed 6 pages)
within five days of the filing of the State's request.
State of Washington sued CLE Estate Services, Inc., CLA USA,
Inc. (“CLA”) and Mitchell Reed Johnson
(“Johnson”) in King County Superior Court,
alleging violations of the Washington Consumer Protection Act
(“CPA”), RCW § 19.86, and the Washington
Estate Distribution Documents Act, RCW § 19.25.
Defendants removed the case to federal court, alleging that
individual state citizens are the real parties in interest
and that all remaining requirements for diversity
jurisdiction were met. (See Dkt. No. 1, Notice of
Removal at 2.)
the Court notes that Defendants do not dispute the
State's argument that this matter does not fall under the
purview of the Class Action Fairness Act, 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d). The Court agrees.
State cites multiple cases from multiple jurisdictions in
support of its position that enforcement of its consumer
protection laws on behalf of its citizens has long been
recognized as an area traditionally regulated and litigated
by the states. In fact, the Washington CPA reserves
certain legal actions specifically and exclusively to the
Attorney General. See, e.g., RCW §§
19.86.090, 19.86.0995, 19.86.100 19.86.140, and 19.86.150.
The Washington Supreme Court has made it clear the Attorney
General's statutory authority to seek consumer
restitution is intended for the general public benefit.
State v. LG Elecs., Inc., 375 P.3d 636, 643 (Wash.
is also widespread legal support for the State's position
that its suit to enforce its quasi-sovereign interest in
guaranteeing an honest marketplace and the economic welfare
of its citizenry bestows “real party in interest”
status upon it. Plaintiffs' position that a state
cannot claim real party in interest status when it sues for
broad prospective relief and also for restitution for a
limited set of consumers has been rejected by the majority of
their part, Defendants have little response to the
State's case authority and instead cite a series of cases
which are distinguishable from the legal circumstances before
this Court. Missouri, Kansas, & Texas Railway Co. v.
Hickman, 183 U.S. 53 (1901) is inapposite - the Supreme
Court in that matter was analyzing whether a state not named
to a lawsuit could be a real party in interest; an Eleventh
Amendment inquiry which concluded that the state's lack
of interest in the litigation was evidence that it was not a
real party in interest, but did not hold that a state must be
the sole beneficiary of an action to qualify as a
real party in interest. See also United States Fidelity
& Guaranty Co. v. United States, 204 U.S. 349
(1907)(in a case brought by a federal contractor who was the
sole beneficiary of any resulting judgment, the United States
was still the real party in interest for jurisdictional
does Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp.,
571 U.S. 161 (2014) affirm Defendants' interpretation of
Hickman, as they claim. The case mentions
Hickman as an example of looking past the pleadings
to defeat attempts to create or destroy diversity, but does
not hold that the relief sought must inure to the benefit of
the State alone in order to qualify the State as a
“real party in interest.” On the contrary, the
Optronics court rejected the argument that courts
must conduct a background inquiry into unnamed ...