Anastasia Wullschleger v. Royal Canin U.S.A., Inc., No. 22-1796 (8th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff’s dog, Clinton, suffered from health problems. The solution, at least according to a veterinarian, was to feed him specialized dog food available only by prescription. It has different ingredients than regular dog food but includes no special medication. Prescription dog food is expensive. The crux of Plaintiff’s complaint is that the “prescription” requirement is misleading because the Food and Drug Administration never actually evaluates the product. And the damages came from its higher sales price. The original complaint, which included only state-law claims, reflected these theories. Brought on behalf of all similarly situated Missouri consumers, it alleged a violation of Missouri’s antitrust laws, claims under Missouri’s Merchandising Practices Act, and unjust enrichment. Plaintiff initially filed her complaint in state court, but Royal Canin and Nestle Purina quickly removed it to federal court. The district court then remanded it.
The Eighth Circuit vacated the district court’s judgment and send this case back to the district court with directions to remanded it to Missouri state court. The court explained that just on the face of the amended complaint, the answer is clear. Only the carryover claims and their civil-conspiracy counterpart remain, and neither one presents a federal question. It is no longer possible to say that “dependence on federal law permeates the allegations” of Plaintiff’s complaint. Further, the court wrote that the manufacturers hope to keep the case in federal court through supplemental jurisdiction. It is too late, however, to turn back the clock.
Court Description: [Stras, Author, with Kelly and Erickson, Circuit Judges] Civil case - Class Actions. For the court's prior opinion in the matter, see Wullschleger v. Royal Canin, U.S.A., Inc., 953 F.3d 519 (8th Cir. 2020), holding plaintiff's antitrust and unjust enrichment claims had important federal ingredients requiring explication of federal law and making it error to remand the matter to state court. On remand, plaintiff eliminated every reference to federal law, but the district court refused to remand the case, finding federal-question jurisdiction still existed. The court eventually granted defendants' motion to dismiss, leading to this appeal. The court finds, however, that the elimination of all federal claims in the complaint destroyed federal jurisdiction, and the district court erred in dismissing the case; remanded to the district court with directions to remand the case to state court.