D&J Plastics, Inc. v. Veolia Es Solid Waste Southeast, Inc., 2010 WL 1257734, (M.D. Ga. Mar 26, 2010).

I want to say one word to you.  Just one word. Yes, sir. Are you listening? Yes, I am. Plastics. Was the court thinking about this famous dialogue when it remanded this case?

The District Court in Georgia remanded the action to state court concluding that the court cannot speculate as to the amount in controversy; instead the amount in controversy should be established by a preponderance of the evidence.

The plaintiffs filed a class action in state court seeking to represent a class of the defendants’ Georgia customers who had entered into waste disposal contracts with the defendants, alleging that some of the defendants’ charges made pursuant to the contracts were unauthorized and excessive.  The plaintiffs sought to recover those unauthorized and excessive charges, which amount was unspecified in complaint.

The defendants removed the action to federal court under CAFA.  The plaintiffs timely moved to remand. 

The District Court found that the damages were unspecified in the complaint, and the defendants failed to establish the jurisdictional amount by a preponderance of the evidence.

The defendants submitted the affidavit of one of its employees stating that, from 2004 to 2009, all of the defendants’ Georgia locations ‘recognized revenue of $11,988,251.00 in environmental fees, fuel surcharges, service charges and administration fees.’  The Court, however, observed that the plaintiffs did not allege that all of the fees were unauthorized or excessive; they sought recovery of an unspecified amount of unauthorized and/or excessive fees.

But, the defendants had not submitted evidence shedding any light as to the amount of fees that the plaintiffs maintain were excessive or unauthorized.  Thus, the Court concluded that even if it considered the affidavit in determining the amount in controversy, it would be required to speculate as to the amount in controversy based upon a review of the pleadings and the affidavit.

So, along with the defendant’s solid waste, its argument went down the toilet.