The Eleventh Circuit today rendered a significant — and 77-pages-long — decision under the Class Action Fairness Act. Happily, the court summarized its holdings:

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), 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.

In sum, though our reasoning diverges substantially from that of the district court, the disposition of this case remains the same. Remanding this action to state court was the appropriate course. The district court’s order is accordingly


Lowery v. Alabama Power Co. , Nos. 06-1324 & 06-1325 (11th Cir. Apr. 11, 2007).

Barry Barnett

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