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Ann Marie Diponzio, On Behalf of Herself and All Other Employees Similarly v. Bank of America Corporation and Bank of America

July 11, 2011

ANN MARIE DIPONZIO, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHER EMPLOYEES SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFF,
v.
BANK OF AMERICA CORPORATION AND BANK OF AMERICA, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Michael A. Telesca United States District Judge

DECISION and ORDER

Introduction

Ann Marie DiPonzio ("Plaintiff") filed this class action suit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Monroe, alleging violations of the New York Labor Law by Bank of America Corporation ("BOAC") and Bank of America, National Association ("BANA") (collectively, "Defendants"). Thereafter, Defendants removed this action from state court to this Court, pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff now moves to remand this action back to state court pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447, on the grounds that Defendants have failed to satisfy their burden to show that the amount in controversy is sufficient for this Court's jurisdictional requirements. For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiff's motion to remand is granted and this action is remanded to state court.

Background

On March 10, 2011, Plaintiff filed a class action suit with the Supreme Court of the State of New York, County of Monroe, pursuant to Article 9 of the New York Civil Practice Law and Rules ("CPLR"). Plaintiff's suit claims that Defendants violated the NYLL, by failing to pay proper wages to loan originator employees in the Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, and Saratoga Springs metropolitan areas of New York State.

On March 14, 2011, Defendants removed the complaint to this Court, pursuant to CAFA and 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). On April 20, 2011, Plaintiff moved to remand the case to state court on the grounds that federal jurisdiction does not exist in this case because Defendants had failed to meet their burden of proving to a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds five million dollars, as required by Sec. 4 of CAFA, codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2).

Discussion

I. Standard of Review

Federal district courts are, fundamentally, courts of limited jurisdiction. See Keene Corp. v. United States, 508 U.S. 200, 207, (1993). Congress has the power to define the boundaries of their authority, and district courts cannot disregard those boundaries. Id. The right of removal to federal court is a statutory right and only exists in strict conformity with its statutory requirements. Somlyo v. J. Lu-Rob Enterprises, Inc., 932 F.2d 1043, 1045 (2d Cir. 1991).

Defendants have the right under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 to remove cases over which a federal district court would have had original jurisdiction. Jefferson County v. Acker, 527 U.S. 423, 430 (1999).

28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)(A) grants federal district courts jurisdiction over class actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds five million dollars and there is diversity of citizenship between any plaintiff in the class and all defendants.

The party claiming federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that subject matter jurisdiction exists. Blockbuster, Inc. v. Galeno, 472 F.3d 53, 57 (2d Cir. 2006); Res Exhibit Services, LLC v. Tecan Group, Ltd., 2010 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 60948 (W.D.N.Y. 2010). A party asserting federal jurisdiction under 28 § 1332(d)(2) must prove to a "reasonable probability" that the amount in controversy exceeds five million dollars. Blockbuster, 472 F.3d at 59.

Judicial scrutiny is particularly important in the context of removal, because removal implicates both state court independence and the federal docket. Stan Winston Creatures, Inc. v. Toys "R" Us, Inc., 314 F.Supp.2d 177, 179 (S.D.N.Y.2003). "Out of respect for the limited jurisdiction of the federal courts and the rights of states, we must resolve any doubts against removability." In Re Methyl Tertiary Butyl Ether Products Liability Litigation, 488 F.3d 112, 124 (2d Cir. 2007) (Internal quotations removed).

Because this Court finds that Defendants have failed to satisfy their burden to show to a reasonable probability that the amount in controversy exceeds five million dollars, the Court grants ...


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