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|JENNIFER MASON, et al.,
LOCKWOOD, ANDREWS & NEWNAM, P.C.,
a Michigan corporation; LOCKWOOD, ANDREWS
& NEWNAM, INC., a Texas corporation,
LEO A. DALY COMPANY, a Nebraska corporation,
| No. 16-2313|
Appeal from the United States District Court
for the Eastern District of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
No. 5:16-cv-10663—John Corbett O’Meara, District Judge.
Argued: November 7, 2016
Decided and Filed: November 16, 2016
Before: GRIFFIN, KETHLEDGE, and DONALD, Circuit Judges.
GRIFFIN, Circuit Judge. This state-law professional negligence proposed class action
suit arises out of the Flint Water Crisis, a public health disaster that drew national media
coverage when the City of Flint decided to supply water to its residents using the Flint River
without implementing necessary anti-corrosion measures. The series of events precipitating the
tragedy have little to do with the issue before us on appeal. We deal, instead, with a question of
procedure: must plaintiffs litigate their claim in state or federal court? In 2005, Congress
revised the contours of federal diversity jurisdiction, making it easier to remove class actions to
federal court, while at the same time providing an exception for cases that are “truly local in
nature,” commonly called the “local controversy” exception. The parties dispute whether
plaintiffs’ claim against defendants (civil engineering companies responsible for upgrading
Flint’s municipal water system) belongs in state court under this exception. Though the Flint
Water Crisis captured the attention of the nation, its infamy does not make it any less local.
Because plaintiffs’ suit consists of a proposed class of more than two-thirds Michigan citizens, a
significant local defendant, and injuries limited to the reach of Flint’s water system, it satisfies
the statutory requirements of the local controversy exception. We therefore affirm the district
court’s decision to remand this case to state court.