Glazer v. Whirlpool Corp., No. 1:08-CV-1624, 2008 WL 4534131 (N.D. Ohio Oct. 6, 2008).
The moral of this story is, if you sue for “repair or replacement” of products with a collective retail replacement value of substantially more than $5 million, the CAFA amount-in-controversy requirement may well be met.
In Glazer, the plaintiff filed suit in state court, alleging that every Whirlpool Duet Sport Front-Loading washing machine sold in Ohio since 2004 had a defect and asked that Whirlpool repair or replace each machine.
Whirlpool removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act. Apparently ‘agitated’ by the removal, the plaintiff moved for remand.
Whirlpool produced evidence that the cheapest Duet washing machine retailed for $699 and that 21,765 Duet washing machines had been wholesaled in Ohio during the relevant time period. According to Whirlpool, this meant that there was a “theoretical maximum amount in controversy” of more than $15 million, well more than the $5 million amount in controversy needed to shift things over to the federal laundromat under CAFA.
The plaintiff tried to pour cold water on this, arguing that wholesale numbers did not necessarily equal actual washing machine sales in Ohio and that the retail price might not accurately reflect the appropriate compensatory damages. The plaintiff said that Whirlpool’s wholesale-times-retail calculation failed to meet Whirlpool’s burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that there was $5 million in controversy.
The court preferred Whirlpool’s spin on the issue. The court found that the wholesale number was factual evidence and not a mere allegation, and found that a fair reading of the suit revealed an allegation of defects in all of the machines and a claim for repair or replacement of all the machines.
By combining its evidence with a fair reading of the plaintiff’s complaint, Whirlpool carried its burden and established that it was more likely than not that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million. Because minimum diversity and class size were uncontested, the court found that it had subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA, and so it hung the plaintiff’s remand motion out to dry.