Fluke v. Cashcall, Inc., 2009 WL 637461 (E.D. Pa. March 10, 2009)

 Yes, CAFA’s amount in controversy requirement is $5,000,000. And no, you cannot get around CAFA jurisdiction by simply stating in your complaint that you are not seeking $5,000,000.

This is no Fluke.

In this case, the plaintiff filed a punitive class action in Pennsylvania state court based on alleged violations of Pennsylvania state law. The claims are based on allegations that the defendant prays on low income, low credit score borrowers by making loans with usurious interest rates and fees. 

The class of borrowers that the plaintiff sought to represent are citizens of Pennsylvania who have been, or are currently being, subjected to unlawful interest rates and fees. 

The defendant removed the action to federal court on the grounds that the requirements of minimal diversity of jurisdiction and the amount in controversy have been satisfied pursuant to CAFA. 

The plaintiff disputed that the damage threshold of $5,000,000 had been met because the plaintiff’s complaint expressly stated that it is not seeking damages in excess of $5,000,000. 

The court recognized that a party wishing to establish subject matter jurisdiction has a burden to prove to a legal certaintythat the amount in controversy exceeds the statutory minimum, and that a plaintiff’s pleadings are not dispositive under a legal certaintytest.

The defendant put on proof in the form of an affidavit setting forth specific calculations and figures and concluded that the amount in controversy for the claims of the class exceeds $5,000,000. The plaintiff came forward with no new evidence regarding same, and the court held that the defendant had established to a legal certainty that the amount in controversy meets the “in excess of $5,000,000” jurisdictional threshold under CAFA.

Again, move along, nothing new here. . .