• April 15, 2010

Famed Seventh Circuit Judge Richard Posner authored an opinion (covered in Minnesota Litigator here in which Posner quipped, “Litigation is not ping-pong.”) holding that, in the Seventh Circuit, federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act does not evaporate with the denial of a motion for class certification.

Yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Patrick Schiltz (D. Minn.) reached the same conclusion in the Starbucks Fair Labor Standards Act case, previously covered here.  To plaintiff’s position that, if a motion for class certification is denied, the federal court’s previous jurisdictional status ceases exist/never existed in the first place, Judge Schiltz suggested, “This would be a strange way to run a railroad.”  Schrödinger’s cat comes to mind (or doesn’t come to mind, or does and doesn’t at the same time?).

Judge Schiltz’s alternative basis for federal jurisdiction also is worth noting — he found that diversity jurisdiction applies, notwithstanding the fact that the single named plaintiff seeks damages “most likely of no more than a few hundred dollars” and diversity jurisdiction requires $75,000 of “amount in controversy.”

The plaintiff, if she prevails, would be entitled to award of attorneys’ fees under the Minnesota Fair Labor Standards Act, the Court recognized.   Surveying just how much these could be based on other like cases, Judge Schiltz held that it was more likely than not that the plaintiff’s damages, fees, and costs, would exceed $75,000.

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