In re Intel Corp. Microprocessor Antitrust Litigation, No. MDL 05-1717-JJF, Civ. A. 05-485-JJF, 2006 WL 1431214 (D. Del. May 22, 2006)

In these dual class actions asserting antitrust violations against Intel for its domination of the market for x86 microprocessors, the United States District Court of Delaware recognized the potential shift of the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction under CAFA, but decided to leave the difficult issue for another day given that the evidence easily proved two removed class actions were worth more than $5 million apiece.

Before deciding not to decide, District Judge Farnan noted that CAFA is silent regarding which party bears the burden of demonstrating federal jurisdiction, and observed that the Ninth and Seventh Circuits have put this onus on the removing defendant. However, remarking that the Third Circuit had not yet addressed the burden of proof issue, the court declined to conduct its own analysis and concluded the class actions originally filed in Kansas state court and Tennessee state court easily satisfied CAFA’s $5 million jurisdictional threshold. (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog summary of Brill v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. posted on November 2, 2005, and the summary of Abrego v. Dow Chemicals Co. posted May 25, 2006, for the burden of proof analysis referred to by Judge Farnan. You may also want to check out the CAFA Law Blog summary of Evan v. Walter Industries, Inc., an 11th Circuit case posted on May 25, 2006, and see if you agree with our  CAFA Law Blog Editor Commentary on Evans posted May 26, 2006. We now return you to your regularly scheduled programming.)

Prior to reaching this conclusion, Judge Farnan prescribed the applicable standard for satisfying the amount in controversy requirement as “[o]nce the proponent of jurisdiction has set out the amount in controversy, only a ‘legal certainty’ that the judgment will be less favorable forecloses federal jurisdiction.” Considering the evidence Intel presented: U.S. Census statistics regarding population and computer ownership for the areas of Tennessee and Kansas covered by the complaints; information about Intel’s share of that market; cost data regarding computers with microprocessors at issue in the litigation, and the relief sought by the complaints; the court concluded the amount in controversy was satisfied regardless which party bore the burden under CAFA. Although the plaintiffs disputed Intel’s calculations, they did not put forth any figures of their own to support their criticisms, and thus lost the remand motion.

The peculiar procedural history of these cases is due to the cases being scooped up by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. The suits were part of a flood of copycat litigation inspired by an Advanced Mirco Devices, Inc. (AMD) suit in June of 2005, when AMD sued Intel in Delaware federal court challenging Intel’s virtual monopoly of the microprocessor market. Intel removed these particular actions to federal court in Tennessee and Kansas respectively, and the cases were subsequently transferred to Delaware by order of the Judicial Panel on MDL. As a result of this decision, we expect that the colorfully clad chip makers from Intel’s commercials are dancing in the labs.