United States District Court, M.D. Florida, Orlando Division
REPORT AND RECOMMENDATION
C. IRICK UNITES STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE
cause comes before the Court for consideration without oral
argument on the following motion:
MOTION: MOTION FOR REMAND (Doc. 7) FILED: March 9,
2018 THEREON it is
RECOMMENDED that the motion be
February 1, 2018, Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint
against Defendant in the Circuit Court of the Ninth Judicial
Circuit in and for Orange County, Florida. Doc. 2. Therein,
Plaintiff asserted a class action claim against Defendant for
declaratory relief and damages. Id. Specifically,
Plaintiff seeks, in part, a declaration that Florida law and
Defendant's Policy require Defendant to pay the class
members the full amount of charges submitted or 80% of the
“Schedule of Maximum Charges” when the charges
submitted to Defendant by the class members are for less than
the amounts allowed pursuant to Florida Statutes §
627.736(5)(a)1. Id. at 10-11. Plaintiff alleged that
Defendant paid the class members 80% of the amount submitted
regardless of whether the amount submitted was for less than
the amount allowed pursuant to Florida Statutes §
627.736(5)(a)1. Id. at 3.
February 7, 2018, Defendant filed a notice of removal (the
Notice) seeking to remove the case to the United States
District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Orlando
Division pursuant to 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332(d), 1441,
1446, 1453. Doc. 1.
March 9, 2018, Plaintiff filed a motion for remand (the
Motion). Doc. 7. Therein, Plaintiff conceded that
“there are over 100 persons in the class and that
diversity exists among the parties.” Id. at 3.
But Plaintiff objected to Defendant's “conclusory
allegation” that the amount-in-controversy exceeds $5,
000, 000.00. Id. Plaintiff argued that the affidavit
that Defendant attached to the Notice is insufficient to
carry Defendant's burden of establishing the
amount-in-controversy by a preponderance of the evidence.
Id. at 3-5. Specifically, Plaintiff argued that
“there is no explanation of the number of
‘Bills' referenced or a calculation of how these
estimates were made.” Id. at 4-5.
April 5, 2018, Defendant filed a response to the Motion (the
Response). Doc. 22. Defendant attached a supplemental
affidavit to the Response (the Supplemental Affidavit). Doc.
22-1. The Supplemental Affidavit included additional details
regarding how Defendant calculated the amount-in-controversy.
Id. Specifically, Defendant asserted through the
Supplemental Affidavit that a data analyst determined that
the putative class included in excess of 500, 000 bills (the
Bills), and that the Bills implicate more than 1, 000 unique
billing providers and more than 60, 000 claims. Id.
at 2. Defendant further asserted through the Supplemental
Affidavit that the face amount of the Bills totals over $50
million and, thus, that the amount-in-controversy exceeds $10
million. Docs. 22; 22-1 at 3. Defendant argued that
the Supplemental Affidavit is sufficient to carry its burden
of establishing the amount-in-controversy by a preponderance
of the evidence. Doc. 22. Plaintiff has not sought leave to
file a reply.
Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. §
1332(d)(2), grants federal district courts subject matter
jurisdiction over class actions in which “(1) any
member of the plaintiff class is a citizen of a state
different from the state of citizenship of any defendant, (2)
the aggregate amount in controversy exceeds $5 million, and
(3) the proposed plaintiff class contains at least 100
members.” S. Fla. Wellness, Inc. v. Allstate Ins.
Co., 745 F.3d 1312, 1314-15 (11th Cir. 2014). “A
defendant seeking to remove a case bears the burden of
proving that the federal district court has original
jurisdiction.” Alilin v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins.
Co., No. 6:14-cv-1183-Orl-41DAB, 2014 WL 7734262, at *2
(M.D. Fla. Jan. 30, 2014) (citing Williams v. Best Buy
Co., Inc., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001)). But
“no antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking
CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of
certain class actions in federal court.” Dudley v.
Eli Lilly and Co., 778 F.3d 909, 912 (11th Cir. 2014)
(quotation and citation omitted).
. . . the plaintiff has not pled a specific amount of
damages, the removing defendant must prove by a preponderance
of the evidence that the amount in controversy exceeds the
jurisdictional requirement.” Williams v. Best Buy
Co., Inc., 269 F.3d 1316, 1319 (11th Cir. 2001)
(citations omitted). However, “a removing defendant is
not required to prove the amount in controversy beyond all
doubt or to banish all uncertainty about it.”
Pretka v. Kolter City Plaza II, Inc., 608
F.3d 744, 754 (11th Cir. 2010) (citations omitted). Rather, a
court may consider the evidence combined with reasonable
deductions, reasonable inferences, and other reasonable
extrapolations. See id.; see also S. Fla.
Wellness, 745 F.3d at 1315. “A court's
analysis of the amount-in-controversy requirement focuses on
how much is in controversy at the time of removal, not
later.” Pretka, 608 F.3d at 751 (citations
omitted); see also S. Fla. Wellness, Inc., 745 F.3d
at 1315 (“What counts is the amount in controversy at
the time of removal.”).
plaintiff seeks only injunctive or declaratory relief, the
Eleventh Circuit has held that “[f]or amount in
controversy purposes, the value of injunctive or declaratory
relief is the value of the object of the litigations measured
from the plaintiff's perspective.” S. Fla.
Wellness, Inc., 745 F.3d at 1315-16 (quotation and
citation omitted) (alteration in original). Thus, in this
case, the amount-in-controversy would be equal to the amount
that Defendant allegedly underpaid the putative class (i.e.,
approximately 20% of the face value of the Bills).
review, the undersigned finds that Defendant carried its
burden of establishing by a preponderance of the evidence
that the amount-in-controversy exceeds the jurisdictional
amount. Defendant, with the assistance of a data analyst,
identified the putative class members, identified the bills
at issue, identified the face value of those bills, and
demonstrated to the Court that 20% of the face value of the
Bills exceeds the jurisdictional amount by more than double.
See Doc. 22-1. And Plaintiff provided no evidence to
rebut the Supplemental Affidavit or Defendant's
calculations. Under these facts, Defendant carried its
burden. See S. Fla. Wellness, Inc., 745 F.3d at
1314-16 (finding under similar facts that the defendant
carried its burden of establishing that the
amount-in-controversy exceeded the jurisdictional amount).