Free v. Abbott Laboratories Inc.

PETITIONER: Free
RESPONDENT: Abbott Laboratories Inc.
LOCATION: Colorado State Legislature

DOCKET NO.: 99-391
DECIDED BY: Rehnquist Court (1986-2005)
LOWER COURT:

CITATION: 529 US 333 (2000)
ARGUED: Mar 27, 2000
DECIDED: Apr 03, 2000

ADVOCATES:
Daniel A. Small - Argued the cause for the petitioners
Frank Cicero, Jr. - Argued the cause for the respondents

Facts of the case

Robin Free and Renee Free, consumers of infant formula, sued Abbott Laboratories, Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, and Mead Johnson & Company (collectively Abbott), under Louisiana's antitrust laws alleging a price-fixing conspiracy. After Abbott successfully removed the case to federal court, the District Court granted the Frees' motion to remand, holding that it lacked federal question jurisdiction and that it had diversity jurisdiction only over the named plaintiffs' claims, not over the other class members. Ultimately concluding that federal jurisdiction extended to the case, the Court of Appeals held that the district court had supplemental jurisdiction over the claims of the unnamed plaintiffs because it had diversity jurisdiction over the named plaintiffs' claims.

Question

Does federal jurisdiction extend to class actions in which not all the claims of individual class members satisfy the $50,000 amount-in-controversy requirement of 28 USC section 1332, as long as diversity jurisdiction exists over the claims of one named plaintiff and, thus, supplemental jurisdiction exists over the claims of the unnamed plaintiffs?

Media for Free v. Abbott Laboratories Inc.

Audio Transcription for Oral Argument - March 27, 2000 in Free v. Abbott Laboratories Inc.

Audio Transcription for Opinion Announcement - April 03, 2000 in Free v. Abbott Laboratories Inc.

William H. Rehnquist:

I have the opinion of the Court to announce in No. 99-391, Free versus Abbott Laboratories Inc.

The judgment is affirmed by an equally divided Court.

Justice O’Connor took no part in the consideration or decision of this case.