Munoz v. J.C. Penney Corp., Inc., 2008 WL 2782879 (C.D. Cal. July 15, 2008)

The plaintiff filed his class action suit in a California state court alleging violations of the California labor code and other state laws. The defendant timely removed the case to federal court. Thereafter, the plaintiff filed a motion to remand the action back to state court.

The plaintiff’s complaint limited the amount in controversy applicable to him, as class representative, at less than $75,000, but did not set forth a specific amount of monetary relief for the class. While the defendant’s removal notice alleged that the plaintiff’s class action qualified for federal jurisdiction under CAFA, it failed to provide any facutal support for its allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.  

The court cited to previous Ninth Circuit jurisprudence (Abrego v. Dow Chem. Co., 443 F. 3d 676, 683 (9th Cir. 2006)), which holds that when the plaintiff’s complaint does not specify or limt the amount of damages sought, the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the jurisdiction requirements have been met.  (Editors’ Note:  See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Abrego posted on May 25, 2006).

Finding that the defendant failed to show, by a preponderance of the evidence, that the amount in controversy exceeds the $5 million minimum required to justify removal under CAFA, the court remanded the action back to state court.