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Abraham v. St. Croix Renaissance Group, L.L.L.P.

United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit

April 16, 2013, Argued; May 17, 2013, Filed

No. 13-1725

Opinion

 [*272]   [***790]  OPINION

(May 17, 2013)

Smith, Circuit Judge.

The St. Croix Renaissance Group, L.L.L.P. (SCRG) sought leave under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1), to appeal  [***791]  an order of the District Court of the Virgin Islands remanding a civil action to the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands. We granted SCRG's request. Because we conclude that the civil action here is not a removable “mass action” under CAFA, we will affirm the order of the District Court.

In early 2012, “[m]ore than 500 individual plaintiffs” sued SCRG in the Superior Court of the Virgin Islands. On February 2, 2012, SCRG removed the civil action to the District Court of the Virgin Islands. SCRG, which was the only named defendant in the action, asserted that the civil action was a “mass action”  [**2] under CAFA, making it removable under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(11)(A) and 1453(b).1 Thereafter, 459 plaintiffs filed a first amended complaint (referred to for simplicity's sake as “the complaint”).2 Most of the 459 plaintiffs were citizens of the United States Virgin Islands. Several plaintiffs, however, were citizens of various states.

 [***792]  SCRG purchased a former alumina refinery on the south shore of St. Croix in 2002. The plaintiffs alleged that “[f]or about thirty years, an alumina refinery located near thousands of homes on the  [*273]  south shore of the island of St. Croix was owned and/or operated by a number of entities.” According to the complaint, the “facility refined a red ore called bauxite into alumina, creating enormous mounds of the by-product, bauxite residue, red mud, or red dust.”

From the beginning of the alumina refinery's operations, hazardous materials, including chlorine, fluoride, TDS, aluminum, arsenic, molybdenum, selenium, as well as coal dust and other particulates were buried in the red mud, and the red mud was stored outdoors in open piles that at times were as high as approximately 120 feet and covered up to 190 acres of land.

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719 F.3d 270 *; 2013 U.S. App. LEXIS 9899 **; 58 V.I. 788 ***; 2013 WL 2128539

ELEANOR ABRAHAM, et al. v. ST. CROIX RENAISSANCE GROUP, L.L.L.P., Appellant

Subsequent History: US Supreme Court certiorari denied by St. Croix Renaissance Group, L.L.L.P. v. Abraham, 2014 U.S. LEXIS 598 (U.S., Jan. 13, 2014)

Prior History:  [**1] On Appeal from the District Court of the Virgin Islands. District Court No. 1-12-cv-00011. District Judge: The Honorable Harvey Bartle, III.

Abraham v. St. Croix Renaissance Group, L.L.L.P., 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 173648 (D.V.I., Dec. 7, 2012)

CORE TERMS

occurrence, district court, class action, mass action, plaintiffs', civil action, Islands, red, hazardous substance, purposes, mud, happened, words, mass-action, injuries, site, local-controversy, discrete, removal, legislative history, state court, occurring, chemical, refinery, alleges, circumstances, dispersion, ambiguous, alumina, terms

Civil Procedure, Special Proceedings, Class Actions, Class Action Fairness Act, General Overview, Jurisdiction, Diversity Jurisdiction, Removal, Postremoval Remands, Appellate Review, Governments, Legislation, Interpretation, Appeals, Standards of Review, De Novo Review, Subject Matter Jurisdiction, Pleadings, Complaints