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An Arkansas District Court Holds That a Stipulation as to the Amount in Controversy Contained in the Body of the Complaint is Sufficient to Defeat CAFA Jurisdiction

In Oliver v. Mona Vie, Inc., No. 4:11-cv-04125, 2012 U.S. Dist. Lexis 75249 (W.D. Ark. May 31, 2012), the plaintiff filed a class action complaint in state court asserting that the defendants had used misleading advertising to sell juice products. 

The complaint contained a stipulation that plaintiff was seeking less than $75,000 per class member and the class was seeking less than $5 million in total damages.  The defendants removed the case to federal court pursuant to CAFA, stating that the plaintiff’s stipulation was insufficient because it was contained in the complaint and not in a separate stipulation.  The court remanded the case, holding that the stipulation in the complaint was the equivalent of a separately filed stipulation and binding upon the plaintiff under state statute.  Because the plaintiff was bound to the stipulated damages amount, and judicial estoppel prevented the plaintiff from attempting to thwart the damage limitation post-remand, the complaint sufficiently established that the statutory minimum required under CAFA had not been  met. The court observed, however, that in states where pleading standards preclude the pleading of damages with specificity, the same result might not occur. 

© 2020 Dinsmore & Shohl LLP. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume II, Number 224

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About this Author

Gabrielle Hils, Complex Litigation Lawyer, Dinsmore, law firm
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Gabrielle Hils’ diverse experience and knowledge of complex litigation, including class action proceedings, has allowed her to guide a variety of clients through the legal labyrinth, ranging from small manufacturers to multinational corporations. With a thorough understanding of multidistrict, class action, and mass tort proceedings, Gabrielle is adept at tailoring her approach to meet the unique needs of her clients. She has developed her skills over many years of service as a lead case management attorney directing pretrial discovery and motion practice in products...

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