7th Circuit Affirms Plaintiff’s Own Estimates of Class Size Can Satisfy CAFAIn Roppo v. Travelers Commercial Insurance Company, the Seventh Circuit held that even after a motion to remand CAFA removal jurisdiction can be sufficiently established by a defendant’s “good faith estimates” of the amount in controversy based on the number of class members plaintiff had alleged in the complaint. The lawsuit challenged Travelers’ alleged practice of not disclosing the existence of umbrella policies in settlement discussions. The complaint alleged that there were at least 500 members of the Illinois-only class. Nevertheless, the plaintiff argued that once removal was challenged, the burden fell on the defendant to prove with independent evidence the actual number of class members, or at least that the size of the class exceeded CAFA’s minimum of 100. The Seventh Circuit disagreed, even while acknowledging that although a defendant’s mere good faith allegation of the amount in controversy will suffice in the notice of removal, more proof is generally required from the defendant once the plaintiff challenges that jurisdictional allegation (see Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S. Ct. 547, 554 (2014)). Specifically, the court found that the duties of candor and due diligence associated with filing a complaint under the Illinois analogue of Rule 11 made reliance on class size estimates contained in a complaint permissible and probative even after the plaintiff challenged the propriety of CAFA removal. Thus, the complaint’s allegation that the class was comprised of at least 500 members, combined with an affidavit from Travelers that its minimum umbrella face amount was $1 million, was enough to carry the day jurisdictionally, especially given the complaint’s further allegation that insurance limits were the “de facto cap” on the personal injury cases placed at issue in the complaint. The court went on to affirm dismissal of the complaint for failure to state a claim.

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Photo of Michael R. Pennington Michael R. Pennington

Mike Pennington has extensive experience in defending high stakes class actions and mass actions of all kinds, including class and mass actions involving mortgage servicing, insurance sales and claims practices, variable annuities, alleged product defects, construction defects, forced-placed insurance, due process and civil rights claims, and statutory damage class actions under the federal statutes such as the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA), the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), and  the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). In addition to chairing Bradley’s Class Action Team, Mike is also chair of DRI’s Class Action Task Force and DRI’s Class Action Specialized Litigation Group. View articles by Mike