KORAL v. BOEING COMPANY (January 4, 2011)

An Boeing airplane crashed in theNetherlands in 2009. One hundred seventeen plaintiffs have filed suit in Illinois state court in 29 separate actions. Boeing filed motions to dismiss the state court actions on the basis of forum non conveniens, citing the considerable inconvenience of transporting its witnesses from out-of-state in 29 different trials. In response, the plaintiffs pointed out that the standard practice in aviation crash cases is to establish liability by trying a small number of exemplar cases, thereby significantly reducing the inconvenience. Boeing used that response to remove all the state court cases to federal court, arguing that plaintiffs' comment was a proposal for a joint trial and thus qualified the case as a "mass action" under the Class Action Fairness Act. Judges Shadur, Guzman, Conlon, Coleman, and St. Eve (N.D. Ill.) each granted motions to remand. Boeing petitions for an appeal.

In their opinion, Seventh Circuit Judges Posner, Wood, and Tinder granted the petition and affirmed the remands. Under Rule 1332, a "mass action” is a civil action in which the claims of 100 or more people are "proposed to be tried jointly," except when the proposal is by a defendant. So Boeing’s “proposal cannot be a Rule 1332 proposal. Here, the only “proposal” is plaintiffs' predictions about what might happen as the case progresses. That falls short of a Rule 1332 proposal – Boeing’s removal was therefore premature.