Professor Georgene Vairo, an expert on class-action litigation who teaches and writes in the areas of mass torts, weighs in on Standard Fire Insurance Co. v. Knowles, argued before the Supreme Court on Jan. 7:
Key Issue: Can a plaintiff stipulate to damages below CAFA's federal jurisdictional threshold of $5 million where the aggregate claims of all class members exceed that amount?
Key Takeaway: The case comes down to a choice between allowing plaintiffs to openly manipulate CAFA's jurisdictional requirements, as well as scaling back the "master of the complaint" rule.
Prediction: I hope Justice Kagan writes the majority opinion. She reminded the defendant that there are two better options than requiring removal at this time. If the case is worth far more than $5 million, then the plaintiff is not an adequate representative of the class. If the plaintiff tries to play around once back in state court and get more than $5 million, then the defendant can remove again.