Ventimiglia v. Tishman Speyer Archstone-Smith Westbury, L.P., 588 F.Supp.2d 329 (E.D. N.Y. 2008).

This putative class action was brought by former tenants of a luxury apartment complex whose leases were allegedly improperly terminated. The defendants had apparently terminated the leases because of mold infestation. The case was initially filed in the New York State Supreme Court, Nassau County, but later removed by the defendants under the Class Action Fairness Act. 

The plaintiffs subsequently moved to remand the case back to state court. If they hadn’t, then you wouldn’t be reading about this case, probably.

The Court first noted that the party asserting federal jurisdiction bears the burden of proof. (Editors’ Note: If you are smart, which you must be since you are reading this blog, you know how we feel about the jurisdictional burden of proof issue. Still not sure, where we stand, then see our law review article on the subject.) 

However, the Court further stated that the party asserting that a CAFA exception applies to defeat jurisdiction bears the burden of proof, though the Court acknowledged that the Second Circuit has not yet ruled on who bears this burden. 

The Court found that the defendants raised a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million. However, the Court found that because the plaintiffs and defendant were a New York citizens, minimal diversity did not exist such that the Court could exercise subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA. 

Notwithstanding that the defendant was incorporated in Delaware, the Court found that the principal place of business of the defendant was in New York as the sole business of the limited partnership was to own the apartment complex that is located in New York and is the object of this dispute. Though there was some dispute as to where the managerial functions of the defendant took place, the Court ultimately found that because the greatest impact of its business activities occurred in New York and, as such, it was a citizen of New York for the purposes of CAFA