On Monday, December 15, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an opinion that makes it easier for defendants to remove class actions to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”). Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co. v. Owens does so in three ways:
1. A defendant’s Notice of Removal does not have to include evidentiary submissions to establish federal jurisdiction under CAFA. A CAFA class action can be removed to federal court if the amount in controversy – i.e. value of the case – exceeds $5 million. Under Dart, defendants need only make a “plausible allegation” that the value of the case satisfies this jurisdictional amount. Evidence supporting the amount alleged is not required. This “plausible allegation” standard echoes the “short and plain statement” pleading standard in Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 8(a). If neither the plaintiff nor the district court contests the defendant’s allegations regarding the amount in controversy, no “evidence” is necessary. But if the allegations are contested, both sides submit proof, and the court will decide, by a preponderance of the evidence standard, whether the amount in controversy is met.
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