Robinson v. Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., 253 F.R.D. 396 (S.D.Miss. 2008). 

The plaintiffs, who consisted of two hundred and eighty-nine current and former employees of the defendant, Wal-Mart, filed a class action alleging that they were required to work hours “off the clock” for which they were not paid, as well as to work through rest and meal breaks in violation of Wal-Mart’s contractual obligations and Mississippi law. 

The plaintiffs attempted to certify a class comprised of “all current and former hourly paid employees of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., in the state of Mississippi that were employed from May 28, 1999 until the present.” Additionally, the plaintiffs sought compensatory and punitive damages for breach of contract and conversion.

Wal-Mart successfully moved to dismiss the plaintiffs’ claims for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. As time ticked away, the plaintiffs were granted leave to amend their complaint to cure the jurisdictional defect. The plaintiffs later filed an Amended Complaint containing virtually identical allegations as those in their original Complaint. The defendant responded with a motion to dismiss the Amended Complaint for lack of subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1), and again sought to dismiss the conversion and class action allegations under Rules 12(b)(6), 12(b)(f) and/or 23(d)(4). Alternatively, Wal-Mart moved to sever the named plaintiffs (their claims, not their heads).

The clock had not run out yet though, as the plaintiffs responded to the defendant’s motion to dismiss arguing that the court indeed had subject matter jurisdiction pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The defendant disputed that CAFA’s amount in controversy was satisfied. The court rejected Wal-Mart’s arguments, and held that it had subject matter jurisdiction over the case pursuant to CAFA.

Next, Wal-Mart moved for dismissal of the class action claims on the grounds that the court would not have subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA absent the class action claim. In the end, the court agreed with Wal-Mart, and held that since it dismissed the class action claims, it no longer had jurisdiction pursuant to CAFA.

Undeterred, the plaintiffs argued that the court may still exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332 because complete diversity existed among the parties and the amount in controversy exceeded the $75,000 threshold. While the court agreed that complete diversity existed, it found that the Complaint, on its face, did not show that each plaintiff had satisfied the amount in controversy requirement. Judge Barbour found that there were a few grains of sand left in the plaintiff’s hourglass, and granted the plaintiffs until October 3, 2008 to amend their Complaint to cure the jurisdictional defect regarding the amount in controversy.

Post script:  Ultimately, the plaintiffs ran out of time because on November 6, 2008 the Court dismissed the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction since the plaintiffs failed to amend the Complaint by the October 3 deadline. Click here for the dismissal.