Valikhani v. Qualcomm Incorporated, 08-cv-786 WQH JMA (S.D. Cal. August 21, 2008).

Qualcomm defeats motion to remand in S.D. Cal. by producing evidence of amount in controversy. 

On April 18, 2008, the plaintiff filed a class action lawsuit against Qualcomm in California state Superior Court in San Diego, California. On April 30, 2008, Qualcomm removed the case to the Southern District of California under the provisions of CAFA. On May 16, 2008, the plaintiff filed his motion to remand the case back to California State Court. 

The case surrounded allegations that Qualcomm did not license its wireless communication related patents in a fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory manner. The Complaint also alleged that Qualcomm charged supra competitive prices for goods and licenses not related to its patents in wireless communication. 

The plaintiff filed the suit on behalf of himself and others similarly situated alleging that Qualcomm acquired monopoly power by intentionally misrepresenting its patented licensing procedure. The plaintiff and his class members alleged that they have sustained anti-trust injuries from Qualcomm’s actions including artificially and unreasonably increased costs for cellular devices.

The Court began its opinion by outlining CAFA’s jurisdictional provisions and highlighting that the burden of establishing removal jurisdiction under CAFA in on the proponent of federal jurisdiction by citing Abrego.  (Editors’ Note:  See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Abrego posted on May 25, 2006, and you avid readers know our position on who bears the burden of proof, but if you have forgotten or if you are new, see our law review article on the subject). 

The issue before the Court was whether Qualcomm had established the requisite five million dollar amount in controversy under CAFA. Qualcomm argued that the Complaint’s allegations made the amount in controversy facially apparent, particularly considering the size of the alleged classes and the fact that the plaintiffs sought treble damages, injunctive relief and attorneys fees. 

The Court cited Guglielmino noting that a party must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the plaintiff class members seek more than five million dollars. (Editors’ Note:   See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Guglielmino posted on November 6, 2007). 

 The Complaint alleged that one of the purported classes consisted of at least 76 million people. Qualcomm submitted evidence that its licensees earned over $2.5 billion on the sale of its licensed devices in the United States with total revenues of $2.77 billion. That sounds like it is just over the $5 million threshold, wouldn’t you say?

The Court concluded that Qualcomm had established that it was more likely than not that the the plaintiff class members sought greater than five million dollars in the case. The Court stated that the plaintiffs sought damages for a class of approximately 76 million members and injunctive relief related to defendant’s multi-billion dollar patent licensing business. The injunctive relief requested would itself be in excess of five million dollars and in addition to the other claims for restitution, treble damages, and attorneys fees the amount in controversy was more likely than not more than five million dollars.