United States District Court, D. New Jersey
10, Plaintiff's Motion to Remand
C. MANNION, UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE.
before the Court is Plaintiff Sean Kiley's Motion to
Remand. Defendant Tumino's Towing
(“Tumino's Towing”) removed this action on
the basis that the case qualifies for federal subject matter
jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act
(“CAFA”). Mr. Kiley argues that the Court should
remand the case under various exceptions to CAFA jurisdiction
or, in the alternative, order jurisdictional discovery to
determine the citizenship of the putative class members.
Having reviewed and considered the parties' submissions,
it is hereby ordered that the parties shall produce limited
jurisdictional discovery to determine what percentage of the
putative class members are domiciled in New Jersey.
Kiley instituted this putative class action to recover
damages and injunctive relief for Tumino's Towing
allegedly unlawful and predatory towing
practices. Mr. Kiley's individual claims arise
out of a nonconsensual tow of his vehicle that Tumino's
Towing performed from a location in Ridgefield Park, New
Jersey on February 15, 2017. The complaint alleges that
certain of the fees and charges that Tumino's Towing
required Mr. Kiley to pay were unlawful under various New
Jersey state consumer protection laws.
Kiley seeks to certify a class of similarly situated
customers whose vehicles were nonconsensually towed by
Defendant Tumino's Towing throughout New Jersey during a
six year period prior to January 31, 2018, the date Mr. Kiley
filed his complaint in the Union County Superior
Court. The complaint does not set forth the
citizenship of the proposed class members but includes each
person “whose vehicle was non-consensually towed by
Defendants from a location in New Jersey, not as a result of
an accident, ” during the relevant time period.
Tumino's Towing estimates, based on towing records and
invoices, that since 2012 they have performed approximately
13, 000 such tows.
March 5, 2018, Tumino's Towing removed this action on the
ground that this Court has subject matter jurisdiction over
the case under the Class Action Fairness Act
(“CAFA”).Tumino's Towing alleges that this case
qualifies for CAFA jurisdiction because it is a class action
in which the class has more than 100 members and
“‘the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or
value of $5, 000, 000, exclusive of interest and costs'
and ‘any member of [the] class of plaintiffs is a
citizen of a State different from any
Kiley does not contest that this case qualifies for federal
subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA but filed a Motion to
Remand on April 4, 2018 on the ground that
remand is required under CAFA's mandatory “Home
State” exception or proper under the discretionary
“Home State” exception.
ANALYSIS & DISCUSSION
preliminary matter, the Court is satisfied that this case
qualifies for federal subject matter jurisdiction under
CAFA's jurisdictional prerequisites. Therefore, the issue
before the court is whether CAFA's mandatory “Home
State” exception or the discretionary “Home
State” exception apply to this matter.
the mandatory exception, a district court must decline to
exercise jurisdiction over a class action in which two-thirds
or more of the members of all proposed plaintiff classes in
the aggregate, and the primary defendants, are citizens of
the state in which the action was originally
filed. Under the discretionary exception, a
district court may, in the interests of justice, decline to
exercise jurisdiction over a class action in which greater
than one-third but less than two-thirds of the members of all
proposed plaintiff classes in the aggregate and the primary
defendants are citizens of the State in which the action was
purposes of subject matter jurisdiction, a party's
citizenship is synonymous with domicile. Domicile is
determined by physical presence in a place combined with
intent to remain there.
defendants in this matter are citizens of New Jersey.
Therefore, the only question that remains is whether Mr.
Kiley has proven that the required percentage of putative
class members are New Jersey citizens. Mr. Kiley argues that
“[b]ased on the geographical reality that every vehicle
at issue was towed from a location in New Jersey, it is more
likely than not that two-thirds or more of these vehicles
were registered to New Jersey residents.” Tumino's
Towing argues that Mr. Kiley has not provided evidence to
support his contention that at ...