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The United States Supreme Court Holds That a Defendant's Notice of Removal Need Only Include a "Plausible Allegation" That the Amount in Controversy Exceeds the US$5 Million Jurisdictional Threshold

On December 15, 2014, the US Supreme Court issued its opinion in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC, et al. v. Owens. Writing for the 5 – 4 majority, Justice Ginsberg held that a defendant’s notice of removal pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA") "need include only a plausible allegation that the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional threshold." Accordingly, defendants need not offer evidence in their notices of removal establishing that the amount in controversy exceeds US$5 million. Rather, just as a "plaintiff’s amount-in-controversy allegation is accepted if made in good faith," a defendant’s amount-in-controversy allegation should also "be accepted when not contested by the plaintiff or questioned by the court." And since "a dispute about a defendant’s jurisdictional allegations cannot arise until after the defendant files a notice of removal containing those allegations," evidence submitted by defendants after the notice of removal is timely. Thus, it was error for the district court to remand the Dart Cherokee case to state court based on the lack of an evidentiary submission in the notice of removal, and an abuse of discretion for the Tenth Circuit to decline review of the remand order.

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