Robertson v. Exxon Mobil Corp.

814 F.3d 236 (2015)

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Robertson v. Exxon Mobil Corp.

United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
814 F.3d 236 (2015)

Facts

Nearly 200 residents of Harvey, Louisiana, (residents) (plaintiffs) sued Exxon Mobil Corporation (Exxon Mobil) and others (defendants) for personal injuries and property damage they sustained after more than 30 years of exposure to airborne radioactive dust that was released during pipe-cleaning operations. The residents claimed that although Exxon Mobil knew or should have known that the pipe-cleaning operations created hazardous conditions, Exxon Mobil failed to warn the residents of the danger for decades. The residents sought compensation for injuries ranging from diseases and cancer to property damage and diminution of value, but per Louisiana state law, the petition did not allege a specific amount of damages. The residents’ responses to interrogatories revealed that some residents claimed injuries as serious as emphysema, lung cancer, and wrongful death. The residents filed their petition in state court, and Exxon Mobil removed the case to federal court as a mass action under the auspices of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The residents moved for remand to state court on the grounds that Exxon Mobil had failed to demonstrate that the case met the jurisdictional requirements of CAFA. The district court determined that the case did not meet the requisite individual amount-in-controversy minimum of $75,000 and granted the residents’ motion for remand. Exxon Mobil appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Higginson, J.)

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