United States District Court, D. Maryland
L. HOLLANDER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
October 5, 2018, in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City,
plaintiff Chad Edoff filed a class action suit against
defendants T-Mobile Northeast LLC and T-Mobile USA, Inc.
(collectively, "T-Mobile"). ECF 1-2 (the
"Complaint"). The Complaint asserts: "In or
around August of 2019, unknown persons gained unauthorized
access to T-Mobile's servers, and took personal
information of some 2.5 million consumers from the same
servers (the 'Data Breach')." Id.
¶ 11. According to plaintiff, "reasonable security
measures would have prevented the Data Breach."
brings this action on behalf of himself and "[a]ll
individuals in the State of Maryland that [sic] were then
cellular communication and or data service subscribers of
Defendants' cellular communication and or data services
whose Personal Information ... was accessed without
authorization in or around August of 2018." Id.
¶ 19. The Complaint estimates that the "Maryland
Class may consist of tens of thousands of members."
Id. ¶ 23. Edoff asserts that "the amount
in controversy exceeds $5, 000," and he seeks monetary
damages "to the maximum extent permitted by law,"
as well as attorneys' fees and costs. Id. at 9.
December 7, 2018, T-Mobile timely removed the case to federal
court, pursuant to 28U.S.C. § 1441. ECF 1 (the
"Notice"). The Notice alleges subject matter
jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act
("CAFA"), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Id.
¶ 7. Pursuant to § 1332(d), T-Mobile explained in
its Notice that this Court has jurisdiction under CAFA
because:(1) it is a class action brought by one or more
representative persons; (2) the number of proposed class
members exceeds 100 persons; (3) the action satisfies minimum
diversity requirements; and (4) "the aggregate amount in
controversy exceeds $5 million, excluding interests and
costs." Id. ¶¶ 7-20.
Order of December 13, 2018 (ECF 10), I asked defense counsel
to clarify the basis for jurisdiction under CAFA. T-Mobile
submitted a memorandum (ECF 14) and the affidavit of
Christopher Muzio (ECF 14-1), a T-Mobile analyst and
custodian of records. Edoff also filed a memorandum (ECF 16)
and an affidavit (ECF 16-1), requesting that the Court remand
the case to State court and award attorneys' fees and
Court, like all federal courts, has "an independent
obligation to determine whether subject-matter jurisdiction
exists, even when no party challenges it." Hertz
Corp. v. Friend, 559 U.S. 77, 94 (2010). The
"burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction is
on . .. the party asserting jurisdiction." Robb
Evans & Assocs., LLC v. Holibaugh, 609 F.3d 359, 362
(4th Cir. 2010); accord Hertz, 559 U.S. at 96. As
the party seeking removal, T-Mobile bears the burden of
establishing subject matter jurisdiction. See Strawn v.
AT&T Mobility LLC, 530 F.3d 293, 297 (4th Cir.
grants subject matter jurisdiction to district courts over
certain class actions, in which the aggregate number of
members of the plaintiff class is 100 or more, any member of
the plaintiff class is a citizen of a state different from
any defendant, and the aggregate amount in controversy
exceeds $5 million. See 28 U.S.C. §
contends that T-Mobile has not adequately shown that the
amount in controversy exceeds the threshold amount of $5
million. ECF 16 at 9.
respect to the amount in controversy requirement, the Supreme
Court's decision in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating
Co., LLC, et al. v. Owens, __U.S.__, 135 S.Ct. 547
(2014), provides guidance. The Dart Court said that,
in the event that the "complaint does not state the
amount in controversy, the defendant's notice of removal
may do so." Id. at 551 (citing 28 U.S.C.
1446(c)(2)(A)). And, "as specified in § 1445(a), a
defendant's notice of removal need only include a
plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds
the jurisdictional threshold. Evidence establishing the
amount is required by § 1446(c)(2)(B) only when the
plaintiff contests, or the court questions, the
defendant's allegation." Id. at 554.
"the district court must make findings of jurisdictional
fact" in connection with the amount in controversy.
Id. at 554. But, these facts need not be established
'"to a legal certainty'.. . ." Id.
(citation omitted). Rather, they are subject only to the
preponderance standard. Id.
determine whether CAFA's $5 million jurisdictional
minimum is satisfied, a district court looks to the aggregate
value of the putative class members' claims, exclusive of
interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(6). The
"test" to determine the amount in controversy is
'"the pecuniary result to either party which [a]
judgment would produce.'" Dixon v. Edwards,
290 F.3d 699, 710 (4th Cir. 2002) (quoting Gov't
Employees Ins. Co. v. Lally, 327 F.2d 568, 569 (4th Cir.
1964)). And, a district court may "resolve the
jurisdictional facts in dispute by considering . . .
affidavits." United States ex rel. Vuyyuru, 555
F.3d 337, 348 (4th Cir. 2009); see Base Metal Trading,
Ltd. v. OJSC "Novokuznetsk Aluminum Factory",
283 F.3d 208, 216 n.3 (4th Cir. 2002).
defendants plausibly allege that the amount in controversy
exceeds $5 million. Dart, 135 S.Ct. at 554.
Defendants submitted the Declaration of Christopher Muzio,
who attests that the data breach potentially impacted
approximately 15, 280 Maryland residents. ECF 14-1, ¶ 3.
And, plaintiffs seek statutory damages of $1, 000 "per
first-time violation." ECF 16 at 11. Therefore, the
amount in controversy is well over $5 million (15, 280 x $1,
000 = $15, 280, 000). As such, T-Mobile has presented a
reasonable basis to support its assertion as to the amount in
there are certain mandatory and discretionary exceptions to
CAFA jurisdiction that carve out class actions that, for
various reasons, are local in focus, despite otherwise
meeting the foregoing jurisdictional requirements.
See, e.g., 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(3), (4). A
"district court can decline jurisdiction" under
three CAFA provisions: "(1) the home state exception,
§ 1332(d)(4)(B), (2) the local controversy exception,
§ 1332(d)(4)(A); and (3) discretionary jurisdiction,
§ 1332(d)(3)." See Preston v. Tenet
Healthsystem Mem. Med. Or., Inc., 485 F.3d 804, 810 (5th
relevance here, the home state exception and the
discretionary jurisdiction provision require, in pertinent
part, that the "primary defendants are citizens of the
State in which the action was originally filed." 28
U.S.C. §§ 1332(d)(4)(B), (d)(3). And, the local
controversy exception requires, in relevant part, that
"at least 1 defendant is a defendant. .. who is a