Rodriguez v. AT&T Mobility Services

Summarized by:

  • Court: 9th Circuit Court of Appeals Archives
  • Area(s) of Law: Civil Procedure
  • Date Filed: 08-27-2013
  • Case #: 13-56149
  • Judge(s)/Court Below: Circuit Judge Clifton for the Court, Circuit Judges Tallman and Callahan
  • Full Text Opinion

A lead plaintiff of a putative class action may not reduce the amount-in-controversy on behalf of absent class members.

Lead plaintiff Robert Rodriguez ("Rodriguez") filed a putative class action against AT&T Mobility Services ("AT&T") in state court, which AT&T removed to federal court. Rodriguez argued that federal subject matter jurisdiction did not exist because the amount-in-controversy did not exceed five million dollars. Additionally Rodriguez purported to waive any claim in excess of that amount by the class. The district court granted Rodriguez's motion and remanded the case to state court. The Supreme Court later held in Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles that such a waiver was ineffective because "the plaintiff's stipulation was not binding on the class and therefore could not resolve the amount-in-controversy question." The Ninth Circuit held that Rodriguez, as the lead plaintiff in a putative class action, "cannot reduce the amount-in-controversy on behalf of absent class members." The panel also held that because the Supreme Court's decision in Knowles "undercut[s] the theory or reasoning underlying the prior circuit preceding in such a way that the cases are clearly irreconcilable", Rodriguez's waiver was ineffective and the legal standard applied to the amount-in-controversy is preponderance of the evidence. VACATED and REMANDED.

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