The Home Depot v. Rickher, No. 06-8006, 2006 WL 1727749 (May 22, 2006).

A wood chipper came in mighty handy for Gaear Grimsrud to get rid of Carl Showalter’s dead body in Fargo. As they say in North Dakota: oy veh, what a mess!   Home Depot rents stump grinders, not to mention sewer snakes, jack hammers, nail guns, and other intimidating tools, so it must have made their day when the Seventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals said Home Depot properly invoked CAFA to remove an action challenging damage waivers for rental tools.

There were no cinematic references in the Seventh Circuit’s decision reversing the district court’s remand order, but there was a concise discussion of CAFA’s $5 million amount in controversy requirement. John Rickher claimed that he would not have paid the damage waiver that Home Depot automatically included in his rental tool bill.  So, he filed suit in state court under the Illinois Consumer Fraud Act. Home Depot removed under CAFA, and the ensuing remand battle focused on whether there was a cool $5 million on the table.  It should be noted that this amount is substantially less than the amount that Jerry Lundegaard needed when he had his wife kidnapped.

Those damage waivers add up: the Seventh Circuit pointed to figures from Home Depot’s director of tool rental operations and merchandising, whose declaration said that Home Depot made some $3.82 million from tool rental damage waivers between March 2002 and the date of his affidavit. The company would lose $1.2 million a year if forced to stop charging for the waivers, the court noted, pointing again to the company’s figures.

Finding that the numbers worked, the Seventh Circuit granted Home Depot’s petition for permission to appeal and reversed the district court’s remand order.