Berry v. American Express Publishing, Corp., et al., No. SA cv 05-302 (C.D.Cal. June 16, 2005) (unpublished opinion).
The plaintiffs filed their class action on March 3, 2005 against American Express, alleging that cardholders were charged for magazine subscriptions without their approval. The defendant removed the case to federal court claiming federal jurisdiction under CAFA, and the plaintiffs moved to remand their class action complaint back to state court.
United States District Judge Alicemarie H. Stotler ruled that the aggregate value of the claims on either side of the litigation failed to meet CAFA’s $5,000,000 amount in controversy requirement.
Plaintiffs contesting federal jurisdiction under CAFA have the burden of proving that the claims fall short of the law’s jurisdictional amount, Judge Stotler wrote, relying on CAFA’s legislative history for support. Judge Stotler also recognized established Ninth Circuit jurisprudence opposing aggregation of claims for purposes of testing whether a suit meets the amount in controversy requirement under diversity jurisdiction. Nevertheless, CAFA’s legislative history, the court concluded, reveals Congress’ clear intent to allow the aggregatation of claims in order to meet the jurisdictional threshold, but ruled that neither the plaintiffs nor American Express had proved at least $5,000,000 in controversy necessary to meet the CAFA threshold.
(Editors’ Note: After this case was decided and after the analysis of this case was posted, this case was overruled by the United States Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Abrego v. Dow Chemical Co., 443 F.3d 676 (9th Cir. 2006). See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Abrego posted on May 25, 2006).