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CAFA Law Blog Information, cases and insights regarding the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005

Plaintiffs Must Meet Their Burden to Rebut Defendants’ Showing Re: Amount-in-Controversy

Posted in Case Summaries, Uncategorized

Clements v. DirecTV, LLC, 2014 WL 794287 (W.D. Ark. Feb. 27, 2014).

In this action, the District Court denied a motion for remand and retained jurisdiction, finding that the defendant had satisfied its burden to establish that the amount-in-controversy exceeded the $5 million threshold required by CAFA.

The plaintiffs sued the defendant in the Circuit Court of Miller County, Arkansas alleging that the defendant converted Arkansas customers’ property when it made unauthorized charges on their credit and debit cards.  The plaintiffs sought relief in the form of compensatory damages, punitive damages and attorneys’ fees.  The defendant removed the action to the District Court  under CAFA.  To prove the jurisdictional amount was met under CAFA, the defendant offered a declaration by Roger Garvin, its Director of Financial Operations, stating that the defendant initiated 31,110 charges on the credit and debit cards of Arkansas residents, which amounted to $5,599,114.61.  Garvin used a 600-page spreadsheet generated by the defendant to compute those figures.

The plaintiffs moved to remand the action to the state court.

The District Court found that the defendant had carried its burden of showing by a preponderance of the evidence that the CAFA’s amount-in-controversy requirement had been met.  The District Court remarked that Garvin’s declaration reported that the defendant initiated charges totaling $5,599,114.61.  Given this data, the District Court held that a fact-finder could easily conclude that the defendant unlawfully initiated charges over $5 million during the proposed class period.  The District Court noted that this amount did not take into consideration the plaintiffs’ claim for punitive damages and the attorneys’ fees.  However, because the plaintiffs offered no evidence to meet their burden to rebut the defendants’ showing by a preponderance of evidence that the amount-in-controversy exceeded $5 million, the District Court concluded that the defendants sufficiently demonstrated that the jurisdictional amount was satisfied.

Accordingly, the District Court denied the plaintiffs’ motion to remand.