Tagged: Calculating Amount in Controversy

Third Circuit Finds Proposed Dual Service as Class Counsel and Class Representative Does Not Preclude CAFA Removal

The Third Circuit recently considered whether the District Court properly denied a motion for remand brought by a pro se plaintiff, an attorney also seeking to serve as class counsel, who argued that since his “dual service” precluded class certification in federal court, the defendant could not aggregate the proposed class’s claims to satisfy the $5 million amount in controversy under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). In affirming the denial of the plaintiff’s remand motion, the Third Circuit built upon recent Supreme Court precedent confirming that a plaintiff cannot stipulate to less than $5 million in damages to avoid the federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA.

Supreme Court to Address Evidentiary Requirements for Determining Removal Jurisdiction in Class Actions

The Supreme Court of the United States granted certiorari in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens, to resolve a circuit split over the evidentiary standard for determining removal jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). Specifically, the Court will consider “[w]hether a defendant seeking removal to federal court is required to include evidence supporting federal jurisdiction in the notice of removal, or is alleging the required ‘short and plain statement of the grounds for removal’ enough?”

Eleventh Circuit Holds That Complaint for Declaratory Relief is “Up to the Task” of Satisfying the $5 Million Jurisdictional Amount for CAFA Removal

Recently, in South Florida Wellness, Inc. v. Allstate Insurance Co., the Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit held that a class action complaint seeking only declaratory relief may be removed to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), because the class members would be eligible to recover more than $5 million — the “amount in controversy” threshold for federal jurisdiction under CAFA — if such relief were granted. Central to the court’s holding was that the “amount in controversy” is an estimate of the value of what is at stake in the litigation, and not a precise measurement of plaintiffs’ likely recovery. In affirming the removal of a complaint seeking only declaratory relief under CAFA, the Eleventh Circuit offered useful insight on the burden of proof for “amount in controversy” purposes.

Class Action Defendants Seeking to Eliminate Removal Uncertainty Get Assistance from Seventh Circuit Decision

In an opinion beneficial to class action defendants, the Seventh Circuit has taken some of the guesswork out of removal by holding that the 30-day period for removing a case to federal court only begins once the defendant has received a pleading or other litigation paper that includes a specific, unequivocal statement that the damages sought meet the jurisdictional amount.

Burden of Demonstrating CAFA Jurisdictional Amount Lowered for Ninth Circuit Defendants

Following the rule announced in Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, the Ninth Circuit has reversed course on the burden borne by defendants seeking to remove under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”). Now, defendants need only establish the amount in controversy by a preponderance of the evidence. In Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility Services, the Ninth Circuit was faced with a putative class representative’s waiver of all damages above $5 million. The waiver was designed to avoid removal under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), but earlier this year, the Supreme Court held in Standard Fire that such waivers are ineffective. Therefore, the Ninth Circuit vacated the District Court’s order remanding the case to state court and remanded to the District Court for further proceedings.