Liberty Mutual Fire Insurance Co. v. EZ-FLO International, Inc., No. 17-56523 (9th Cir. 2017)Annotate this Case
EZ-FLO manufactures supply lines that connect water pipes to plumbing fixtures. The supply lines consist of flexible tubing on the inside, a protective covering of braided wire on the outside, and plastic nuts on both ends that connect the supply lines to adjacent plumbing. Plaintiffs, insurance companies, alleged that the plastic nuts are defective and allow water to leak out of the supply lines and that they made payments to their insured homeowners for damages caused by the alleged defect. They filed suit as subrogees of those insureds, seeking over $5,000,000 in damages. EZ-FLO filed a notice of removal pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. 1332(d). The district court held that it lacked jurisdiction because the amended complaint “does not include more than 100 named plaintiffs.” The Ninth Circuit affirmed. A CAFA “mass action” is defined as “any civil action . . . in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly on the ground that the plaintiffs’ claims involve common questions of law or fact.” A lawsuit filed by 26 insurance companies in their capacity as subrogees of 145 insured homeowners does not qualify as a mass action.