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CAFA Law Blog Information, cases and insights regarding the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005

Short Case From Small State! Rhode Island Handles CAFA Amount in Controversy Standard.

Posted in Case Summaries

Gayvont v. Davol, Inc., No. 07-1966ML; MDL 07-1842ML; 2008 WL 2433258 (D. R.I. Feb. 6, 2008).

Inspired by Judge Lisi’s economy of words, the editors hereby resolve to keep this post shorter than the opinion it summarizes….

In the absence of guidance from the First Circuit, the District of RhodeIsland recently followed the majority approach from other courts across the country for determining whether proof of the amount in controversy is sufficient to support an assertion of diversity jurisdiction under CAFA’s requirement that there be an aggregate amount in controversy of $5,000,000. 

This approach requires the party asserting jurisdiction (here, as usual, the removing defendants) to establish the amount in controversy by only a preponderance of the evidence. The court recognized that some courts have applied an even more lenient standard, citing the 9th circuit’s “more likely than not” standard articulated in Abrego v. Dow Chemical Co. (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Abrego posted on May 25, 2006) and the 7th Circuit’s “reasonable probability” standard from Brill v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc. (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Brill posted on November 2, 2005) . 

The District of Rhode Island rejected the minority rule that requires the amount in controversy to be established “to a legal certainty.” The court reasoned that the less stringent standard is consistent with the purpose behind CAFA to widen the scope of federal jurisdiction for class actions, citing to the Senate Judiciary Committee report.