McGee v. Continental Tire North America, Inc. 2007 WL 2462624 (D.N.J. 2007).

We all learned in grade school that the wheels on the bus go “round and round, round and round” all through town, but when Continental’s wheels are defective, defective, defective, a class action under the Magnunson-Moss Warranty Act (“MMWA”), 15 U.S.C. §§ 2301 et seq., is sure to follow. 

This was the case in McGee, when the plaintiff filed a class action on behalf of all persons who purchased Continental’s ContiSeal model tires since 2004. Unfortunately for McGee, he didn’t meet the specific jurisdictional requirements for a MMWA claim. Luckily, CAFA came to the rescue.

McGee argued that federal question over his MMWA claim was based on CAFA, which merely required minimal diversity of citizenship and that the aggregate class claims exceed $5,000,000.00. Thus, the Court was faced with an interesting, but not novel, issues: Is CAFA an alternative basis of jurisdiction over MMWA claims? Relying on Chavis v. Fidelity Warranty Services, Inc., 415 F.Supp.2d 620 (D.S.C. 2006), the District Court determined that Congress was aware of the MMWA when it enacted CAFA. Therefore, because CAFA was meant to expand federal jurisdiction over class actions, and MMWA allows alternative jurisdictions,  CAFA provides an alternative basis of jurisdiction for MMWA claims.

But, all fans of the song know it doesn’t end with the wipers on the bus going “swish, swish, swish.” First, the driver on the bus says “move on back, move on back.” Indeed, the court basically said “not so fast McGee.” 

While he had minimum diversity, there was no allegation in the Complaint that the amount in controversy exceeded $5,000,000.00. The Court noted that as master of his complaint, McGee is required to plead all of the necessary jurisdictional facts to establish subject matter jurisdiction. Just when it looked that McGee may become the baby on the bus and go “wah, wah, wah,” the Court permitted him to file an amendment to the complaint to comply with CAFA’s jurisdictional requirements.

We’ll all wait to find out if the money on the bus will go “clink, clink, clink” now that CAFA saved McGee.

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