Macula v. Lawyers Title Ins. Corp., 2010 WL 1278868 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 30, 2010) (No. 1:07 CV 1545).

Joining with the Seventh Circuit’s opinion in Cunningham Charter that federal jurisdiction under CAFA does not depend on certification, a District Court in Ohio declined to dismiss the individual claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction after dismissing the class claims.

Gary Macula, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, brought an action alleging that Lawyers Title Insurance Company had overcharged individual homeowners, including him, by charging the full price for title insurance, instead of the discounted rates as set forth in PR-9 and PR-10 of the Manual of Rates filed with the Ohio Department of Insurance.

The plaintiff filed the complaint in the District Court pursuant to CAFA, seeking declaratory and injunctive relief (Count I) and asserting claims for Breach of Contract (Count II), Fraud (Count III), Breach of Fiduciary Duty (Count IV), Conversion (Count V), Unjust Enrichment (Count VI), Breach of Duty of Good Faith and Fair Dealing (Count VII), and Money Had and Received (Count VIII).  Subsequently, the Court dismissed Counts I, IV, V and VII of the complaint, which contained class claims, and accordingly denied class certification.

In light of the denial of class certification, the defendant filed a motion to dismiss the plaintiff’s remaining individual claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction asserting that the plaintiff’s individual claims fell short of the $75,000 amount in controversy.

The Court found that jurisdiction is assessed at the time that the action is filed, and it may not be divested based upon subsequent events.  The Court noted that in Chesner v. Stewart Title Guaranty Company, No. 1:06CV00476, 2009 WL 585823 (N.D. Ohio Jan. 9, 2009) and in Faralli v. Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow, No. 1:06 CV 504 (N.D. Ohio Mar. 23, 2007), the Court retained jurisdiction over the individual claims after denying class certification.

The Court followed the Seventh Circuit’s decision in Cunningham Charter Corp. v. Learjet, Inc., 592 F.3d 805 (7th Cir. Jan. 22, 2010) that federal jurisdiction under CAFA does not depend on certification. In reaching this determination, the Seventh Circuit relied upon the general principle that properly invoked jurisdiction is not lost by subsequent developments.  This general rule is premised upon a desire to minimize expense and delay. (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Cunningham Carter posted on February 3, 2010).

Accordingly, the Court observed that the matter was pending before it since May 2007, and the Court had issued multiple decisions in this matter.  As in Cunningham Charter, the Court found that the plaintiff’s attempt to maintain the suit as a class action was not simply frivolous; thus it could not find that there was no jurisdiction at the outset.