In Lowery v. Alabama Power Co., ___ F.3d ___ (11th Cir. Apr. 11, 2007), the Eleventh Circuit "unravel[s] some of the mysteries of CAFA’s cryptic text." (Slip op. at 2.) The 77-page opinion addresses four issues:
The defendants’ appeals require us to address four distinct issues, and we address each in turn in the parts of this opinion that follow. In part II, we consider whether the removal of an action under CAFA by a defendant added as a party after CAFA’s effective date removes the claims against all of the defendants in the action – including those claims brought before the effective date. Part III dissects CAFA’s “mass action” provisions to identify the requirements for subject matter jurisdiction created by those provisions. In part IV, we set forth the applicable burden of proof in establishing subject matter jurisdiction in a removed case in which damages are unspecified, and we identify the party that bears this burden under CAFA. In part V, we determine what a district court may consider in reviewing the propriety of removal that is timely challenged by a motion to remand. This inquiry requires us to examine the significance of the existing removal procedures under 28 U.S.C. § 1446 – which are incorporated, in part, by CAFA – as well as the propriety of post-removal discovery on the issue of jurisdiction. Part VI applies the relevant legal principles to the instant case. Finally, part VII briefly concludes.
Slip op. at 13-14. The Court summarizes its holdings as follows:
A brief summary of our conclusions is warranted. 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 AFFIRMED.
Slip op. at 76-77. Consumer Law & Policy Blog has more on the decision.