Gutierrez v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A., No. C 07-05923 WHA, 2010 WL 3198928 (M.D. Cal. August 10, 2010)

In keeping with our up-to-the minute, breaking news coverage of the Cappuccitti v. DirecTV, Inc. Eleventh Circuit decision [Editor’s Note:  for those readers who’ve recently living under a rock, here’s the CAFA Law Blog’s initial post on Cappuccitti], we wanted to jump right to what appears to be the first consideration of Cappuccitti by another court. 

While Wells Fargo had previously conceded that the jurisdictional requirements of Section 1332(d)(2) had been satisfied, it filed a “notice” of a “potential jurisdictional defect” under CAFA (the quotation marks were the court’s, not ours), in which it cited the Cappuccitti decision. Wells Fargo did not file a motion challenging subject matter jurisdiction, and clarified to the court that it was not challenging jurisdiction by its notice of potential jurisdictional defect, but instead, merely raising the issue for such consideration as the court deemed appropriate. Good strategic move, we’d say – why not cover the bases?

U. S. District Judge William Alsup makes short work of the question, finding that all of the CAFA jurisdictional requirements have been met. Judge Alsup cites to Section 1332(d)(2), and lists the requirements for original jurisdiction: the amount in controversy exceeds $5,000,000 in a class action in which there is minimal diversity and at least 100 plaintiffs. That’s it in a nutshell. He notes, “[n]owhere in Section 1332(d) are the jurisdictional requirements of Section 1332(a) cross-referenced, except for the removal of ‘mass action’ from state court.” (For those readers living under a rock somewhere who might be unfamiliar with the ruling in Cappuccitti, the Eleventh Circuit panel cobbles the $75,000 individual plaintiff amount in controversy for a mass action under section 1332(a) onto the familiar CAFA jurisdictional requirements of Section 1332(d)(2) to create a new jurisdictional requirement for class actions – take a look at the CAFA Law Blog’s analysis of Cappuccitti here.) The court thus quickly and decisively disposes of Cappuccitti, concluding that “the instant action was not removed from state court as a ‘mass action,’ but filed originally in district court as a class action under F.R.C.P. 23. Jurisdiction is therefore proper.” Elegantly simple. We like that.

We at the CAFA Law Blog think that Judge Alsup got the CAFA jurisdictional issue right: the $75,000 amount in controversy requirement of Section 1332(a) does not appear anywhere in Section 1332(d)(2), despite the Cappuccitti court’s attempt to pound that square peg into a round hole. We suspect that more and more courts will reject the reasoning underpinning the Cappuccitti decision as the issue comes up around, and we’ll try to keep our readers up to date on the breaking news as it happens. Stay tuned!