ST. LOUIS – Netflix and Hulu filed to remove to federal court a proposed class action brought by the city of Creve Coeur over allegations they failed to pay video-service-provider fees as required by state statute.
Netflix and Hulu filed the notice of removal in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri on Sept. 6.
The suit was originally filed in St. Louis County Circuit Court on July 19 alleging violations of the Video Services Providers Act and sought to include any other Missouri municipality or county that collects video service provider fees. The proposed class claims unjust enrichment and seeks declaratory judgment, unpaid fees, interest and penalties.
According to the filing, Netflix has earned more than $170 million in gross revenues from subscribers within the jurisdictions of the putative class members in the past five years. Hulu has earned more than $90 million in gross revenues from subscribers within Missouri in the past five years.
In the removal notice filed Sept. 6, Netflix and Hulu say that the number of potential class members exceeds 100, whereas Creve Coeur is alleging at least 40 members in the class.
While the defendants argue that federal court is the appropriate jurisdiction to hear the case, they deny any liability as to individual or putative class members' claims.
"Further, defendants believe that plaintiff’s proposed class definition is improper and that class treatment is inappropriate in this case," the notice states. "As such, defendants will vigorously oppose certification of the putative class plaintiff purports to represent."
Netflix and Hulu say they are only acknowledging the stakes of what the litigation could be under the plaintiff's allegation.
"In alleging the amount in controversy and other matters in this removal pleading, including that plaintiff might legally recover a judgment exceeding the jurisdictional amount in controversy, defendants do not confess any liability, they do not admit the appropriate amount of damages if found liable for any part of plaintiff’s claims, and they do not concede in any way that the allegations in the first amended petition are accurate or that plaintiff or any other putative class member is entitled to any relief whatsoever," the notice states.
Netflix is represented by attorneys from Berry Silberberg Stokes PC of St. Louis and Reed Smith of San Francisco, California. Hulu is represented by attorneys from Irell & Manella LLP of Los Angeles, California.