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Dudley v. Eli Lilly and Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Eleventh Circuit

December 29, 2014

LESLIE PINCIARO DUDLEY, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellee,
v.
ELI LILLY AND COMPANY, a Foreign For-Profit Corporation, LILLY USA, LLC, a foreign for-profit limited liability company, Defendants - Appellants

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. D.C. Docket No. 3:13-cv-01287-HES-JBT.

For LESLIE PINCIARO DUDLEY, on behalf of herself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff - Appellee: Janet R. Varnell, Brian W. Warwick, Steven T. Simmons, Varnell & Warwick, PA, Lady Lake, FL; William Sumner Scott, Law Offices of William J. Scott, PA, Jacksonville, FL.

For Eli Lilly And Company, Defendant - Appellant: Ellen Elizabeth Boshkoff, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, Indianapolis, IN; Stephen M. Brooks, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, Atlanta, GA; Thomas William Carroll, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, Denver, CO; Eric J. Holshouser, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC, Jacksonville, FL; D. Lucetta Pope, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, South Bend, IN.

For LILLY USA, LLC, a foreign for-profit limited liability company, Defendant - Appellant: Ellen Elizabeth Boshkoff, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, Indianapolis, IN; Stephen M. Brooks, Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough, LLP, Atlanta, GA; Thomas William Carroll, Faegre Baker Daniels, LLP, Denver, CO; Eric J. Holshouser, Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney, PC, Jacksonville, FL; D. Lucetta Pope, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, South Bend, IN.

Before TJOFLAT, MARCUS and WILSON, Circuit Judges.

OPINION

Page 910

MARCUS, Circuit Judge:

In this interlocutory appeal, Appellants Eli Lilly and Company and Lilly USA, LLC (collectively, " Lilly" ) appeal from a district court order granting the Appellee Leslie Dudley's motion to remand this class action back to the Circuit Court of Duval County, Florida. Dudley's complaint alleged that Lilly did not make certain incentive payments due to Dudley and other similarly situated individuals who had been employed at the company. Lilly removed the case to the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (" CAFA" ), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). After considering the complaint, the removal petition, and the evidence that had been presented, the district court granted Dudley's motion to remand the case to state court, finding that Lilly had not met its burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeded $5,000,000, as required for federal subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2). The court determined

Page 911

that Lilly's proffers about the amount in controversy were purely speculative because Lilly had failed to identify a specific number of class participants made up of only those employees who did not receive their promised compensation; and had failed to identify the amount each member was entitled to receive as compensation. We granted Lilly permission to appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1), and after having considered the matter and taken oral argument, we conclude that on the limited record presented, the district court did not clearly err in determining that Lilly has failed to meet by a preponderance of the evidence CAFA's amount-in-controversy requirement. Accordingly, we affirm.

I.

We review a district court's decision to remand a CAFA case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction de novo. Pretka v. Kolter City Plaza II, Inc., 608 F.3d 744, 751 (11th Cir. 2010). As with all diversity cases, we review for clear error any factual determinations necessary to establish jurisdiction. See, e.g., Texas Acorn v. Texas Area 5 Health Sys. Agency, Inc., 559 F.2d 1019, 1024 (5th Cir. 1977)[1] (reviewing for clear error the district court's finding that the amount in controversy had been met); Rexford Rand Corp. v. Ancel, 58 F.3d 1215, 1218 (7th Cir. 1995) (" The determination of the amount in controversy is a fact-specific inquiry. Thus, we review the district court's finding that the amount in controversy exceeds $50,000 for clear error." ); McCormick v. Aderholt, 293 F.3d 1254, 1257 (11th Cir. 2002) (reviewing for clear error the district court's findings regarding domicile for diversity jurisdiction purposes); Vareka Invs., N.V. v. Am. Inv. Props., Inc., 724 F.2d 907, 910 (11th Cir. 1984) (reviewing for clear error factual question of a corporation's principal place of business for diversity jurisdiction purposes). Thus, we review de novo the district court's ultimate legal conclusion that the underlying factual allegations are insufficient to establish CAFA jurisdiction, and we review for clear error the district court's determination that Lilly failed to establish that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million by a preponderance of the evidence. See Amoche v. Guarantee Trust Life Ins. Co., 556 F.3d 41, 48 (1st Cir. 2009) (holding in a CAFA case that it would review for clear error " that portion of the district court's assessment of subject matter jurisdiction composed of factual findings," and would review de novo its " ultimate assessment of jurisdiction" ); accord Watkins v. Vital Pharms., Inc., 720 F.3d 1179, 1181 (9th Cir. 2013); Blockbuster, Inc. v. Galeno, 472 F.3d 53, 56 (2d Cir. 2006).

" Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. They possess only that power authorized by Constitution and statute." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). The statute at issue today has expanded considerably the subject matter jurisdiction of the federal courts over class actions that meet certain minimal requirements. Miedema v. Maytag Corp., 450 F.3d 1322, 1327 (11th Cir. 2006). Specifically, CAFA grants federal district courts jurisdiction over class actions where (1) any member of the plaintiff class is a citizen of a state different from the state of citizenship of any defendant, (2) the ...


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