by Brian Wolfman
Yesterday, the Eleventh Circuit issued Lowery v. Honeywell Int'l, Inc., No. 06-16324, a treatise on CAFA, and, in particular, its "mass action" provisions. CAFA crazies can read the whole thing by clicking above. But, first, why not just digest the court's own synopsis of its 77-page opinion? Here ya go:
First, we hold that any one defendant authorized under CAFA to remove the plaintiffs’ claims against that defendant to federal court may remove the action as a whole, regardless of whether other defendants in the action would be authorized to remove their claims.
Second, we hold that CAFA sets forth at least four threshold requirements for a federal court to have subject matter jurisdiction over a removed mass action. Where the parties are minimally diverse, the action consists of 100 plaintiffs or more, the plaintiffs’ claims share common questions of law or fact, and the potential aggregate value of all the claims exceeds $5,000,000, the action may be removed to federal court as a mass action.
Third, we hold that the defendants are not entitled to remand to the district court for limited jurisdictional discovery, nor may the district court conduct such discovery on its own initiative.
Moving to the merits, we hold that the defendants here are unable to meet their burden of establishing the requirements for federal jurisdiction over a mass action, because they are unable to establish that the plaintiffs’ claims are potentially valued at more than $5,000,000. Tracking § 1446(b) [the general removal procedure statute], we note that the defendants’ notice of removal contained no document clearly indicating that the aggregate value of the plaintiffs’ claims exceeds that amount and, as such, they are unable to establish federal jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence.
By the way, the Court explicitly holds that it is okay to look at CAFA's purported legislative history, even though it was issued after CAFA's enactment.