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Greco v. Jones

United States District Court, N.D. Texas, Dallas Division

January 16, 2014

JOSEPH GRECO, JULES BRODSKY, TODD J. CHRISTENSON, WILLIAM DICKIE, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JERRAL "JERRY" WAYNE JONES, NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE, DALLAS COWBOYS FOOTBALL CLUB, LTD., JWJ CORPORATION, COWBOYS STADIUM, L.P., COWBOYS STADIUM GP, LLC, and BLUE & SILVER, INC., Defendants

Page 694

For Joseph Greco, Jules Brodsky, Todd J. Christenson, William Dickie, David Aiello, Tracy Albaugh, Donald Albaugh, Nassaval Anderson, Agi Bako, Todd Baraniak, Gary Barcinas, Jennifer Barcinas, Martha Barlow, Terrence Battist, Richard Bazzy, Gordon R Behling, Brandon Bernick, Albert S. Bier, Dennis Bill, Nicole Blasingame, Thomas Bloch II, Bernard B. Booth, Bart Boren, William A. Breseman, Sonya Brooks, Max Brourman, Mitchell Brourman, Andrea Brownlee, Miguel Busquets, Zachary S. Bussard, Chad Butterfield, Craig Butterfield, Michael G. Byrne, Brain Calvin, Jose Martin Carballo Garcia, Robert W. Carothers, Luis Castro, Bill Clark, Paul Charles Colavecchi, Mark Coronna, Maryanne Coronna, Carre Covell, Michael A. Cromer, James A. Dahl, Joseph R. Dailey, Arianne Z. Dar, Joseph Darragh, Wynne DeArman, Alfred C. Del Mastro, Lisa Dellabella, David DeMarco, John DiJoseph, Mike Dolabi, Elizabeth East, Matthew Edlebeck, Kenneth Edlebeck, James Edwards, Patricia Edwards, Elise C. Ewing, Frank E. Farrell, James Fox, Robert Franco, Tami Frankhouser, Brooke Freischmidt, Tim Gable, Michael Garippa, Myron Gefroh, Mike Gibson, Gilbert Kaye, Leon Goldstein, David Goydan, Silas Graham, Linda Grantin, Patsy Greco, Gerald Grillo, Steve Grohawalski, Pat Gunderson, Stephen Gurgovits, Stephen Gurgovits Jr, Bryant Hagen, Ronald Haines, John Halbleib, Kathleen Hamill, Mark Harchelroad, Jacob Haupricht, Virginia Hazelet, Brian T. Henciak, Dana Lamont Henderson, James Hogan, Paul Hrubesky, Terry R. Johnson, Johanna Johnson-Massey, Alyce A. Jones, Justin P. Junda, Connie Jurado, Larry Jurado, John Kaltenberg, Brian Kathary, John Kaufman, Rich Kay, Matt Keene, Adam Keller, Constance King, James W. Kirk, Harold Kirstein, Teresa G. Klembara, Mike Kramer, Stephanie Lake, John Lammers, Mary Kay Lammers, Eitan Laufer, Lisa Lawrence, Patrick Le, Paul Le, Jesse Legorreta, Lynn Lewis-Reed, David E. Lichty, Wayne Lieberman, Gail Limoni, Robert Limoni, Ray C. Lopez, Jonathan Mack, Kathleen Mack, Al MacVicar, Jennifer Malara, Floyd Malatesta, Craig Margelowsky, Lorrel Margelowsky, Keith Margelowsky, Louis Victor Martin, Shane Mason, Joseph Matesic, Joan Q. McAfoos, Ralph McBee, Kimberly McCloskey, Michael Robert McCluney, Richard J. McMaster, Gerardo Medellin, Joseph T. Menotti, Carl Metosky, Gary Michols, Bruce Miller, Gordon Miller III, Donald P. Monaco, Daniel Noltner, Michael A. O'Connor, Mary O'Keefe, Donna O'Neill, Jeffrey R. Oleson, Tim Olson, Curtis Olson, Carri Olver, Jason Olver, William F. Ososkie, Jeff Polacheck, Arturo Ramirez, Jeff Rathsack, Matthew Reber, Patrick Richards, Scott Richards, Robin Roberts, Keith Roberts, Derl Robertson, Anferny Rodriguez, Oscar Rodriguez, Buddy Rogers, Michael Rogers, James A. Rudolph, Richard Ryan, David A. Sachs, Lisa Salisbury, Ross A. Scarano, Maureen Schlegel, Ashley Schuldes, Natalie Schuldes, James R. Shento, Karen Shepner, Brett Sholder, Johnny O. Simmank, Joseph Sipes, James Stocki, William J. Stoddard, David W. Stone, Brian Surmacz, Celly Surmacz, Robert Susko, Jeffrey Sveum, John Swick, Michael Sylvester, Norman Talkowski, Steve Tennessen, Billy Thomas, Brittany Thompson, Tyler Tomesh, Cao-Ly Tran, Joni Transue, David Turner, Mark Turner, Rodrigo Vergara, Lynn Villani, Jason B. Wagler, David Wagner, Brian Weiland, David Weissman, David E. White, Carlene Whitsel, John Wisniewski, Ron D. Wright, Jennifer A. Yanda, Andrew Young, Dean Young, Kim Ziccardi, Randall Zotter, Plaintiffs: Christopher S Ayres, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ayres Law Office PC, Addison, TX; Ahmed Ibrahim, Jason M Frank, Eagan Avenatti LLP, Newport Beach, CA; Michael J Avenatti, Eagan Avenatti, Newport Beach, CA; R Jack Ayres, Jr, Law Offices of R Jack Ayres Jr, Addison, TX.

For Adrian Moreno, Kathleen Muenster, Kenneth Muenster, Gregg Nemec, Mark Nemec, Ricky Nevels, Mark Nicholson, James M. Nicholson, Raymond Niro, Plaintiffs: Christopher S Ayres, LEAD ATTORNEY, Ayres Law Office PC, Addison, TX; Michael J Avenatti, LEAD ATTORNEY, Eagan Avenatti, Newport Beach, CA; Ahmed Ibrahim, Jason M Frank, Eagan Avenatti LLP, Newport Beach, CA; R Jack Ayres, Jr Law Offices of R Jack Ayres Jr, Addison, TX .

For Cameron Pace, Kris Pak, Frank Parker, Gregory D. Pawlowski, Tim Petersen, Janet A. Pina, Stephen A. Pina, Christopher B. Piwinsky, Erica Piwinsky, Summer Plewes, Plaintiffs: Ahmed Ibrahim, Jason M Frank, Eagan Avenatti LLP, Newport Beach, CA; Christopher S Ayres, Ayres Law Office PC, Addison, TX; Michael J Avenatti, Eagan Avenatti, Newport Beach, CA; R Jack Ayres Jr, Law Offices of R Jack Ayres Jr, Addison, TX.

For Jerral Wayne Jones, " Jerry", Dallas Cowboys Football Club, Ltd., JWJ Corporation, Cowboys Stadium, L.P., Cowboys Stadium GP, LLC, Blue & Silver, Inc., Defendants: David W Dodge, LEAD ATTORNEY, Paul A Grinke, McCathern Mooty Hyde Grinke, LLP, Dallas, TX; Hossain Arnold Shokouhi, McCathern Mooty LLP, Dallas, TX; Levi G McCathern, II, McCathern Mooty, Dallas, TX; R Jack Ayres, Jr, Law Offices of R Jack Ayres Jr, Addison, TX.

For National Football League, Defendant: R Thaddeus Behrens, LEAD ATTORNEY, Daniel H Gold, George W Bramblett, Jr, Haynes & Boone LLP, Dallas, TX; R Jack Ayres, Jr, Law Offices of R Jack Ayres Jr, Addison, TX.

OPINION

Page 695

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

BARBARA M. G. LYNN, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This case raises interesting and challenging questions of jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (" CAFA" ). Having carefully considered Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand [Docket Entry #11], the Court concludes that it should retain jurisdiction over this action. For the following reasons, Plaintiffs' Motion is DENIED.

I. FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND.

On February 6, 2011, Defendants allegedly denied, relocated, and delayed the seating of, and/or directed to seats with obstructed views, thousands of ticket holders to Super Bowl XLV. Pls.' Original Pet. ¶ 4.39. On February 5, 2013, 237 affected ticketholders filed suit against Defendants in state court, stating claims for breach of contract, fraudulent inducement, fraudulent concealment, negligent misrepresentation, violations of the Texas Deceptive Trade Practices Act (" DTPA" ), and negligence. Id. at ¶ ¶ 2.5, 5.1-11.7.

On March 7, 2013, Defendants removed the state court action to this Court, arguing that this case is properly removable as a " mass action" under CAFA. Defs.' Notice of Removal at ¶ ¶ 2-10. Plaintiffs seek remand because (1) Defendants have not established that each Plaintiff seeks in excess of $75,000, and (2) this action is exempted from CAFA's definition of " mass action" pursuant to the " event or occurrence" exception. Pls.' Mot. to Remand at 3-8.

II. ANALYSIS.

A district court has subject matter jurisdiction over mass actions under CAFA. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(A) (" For purposes of this subsection . . . a mass action shall be deemed to be a class action removable under paragraphs (2) through (10) if it otherwise meets the provisions of those paragraphs." ). A mass action is defined as " any civil action . . . in which monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly on the ground that the plaintiffs' claims involve common questions of law or fact." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(i). The statute further provides that jurisdiction " shall exist only over those plaintiffs whose claims in a mass action" exceed $75,000. Id. Thus, to be removable as a mass action under CAFA, a civil action must, at the very least: (1) satisfy CAFA's minimal diversity requirement ( i.e., at least one plaintiff and one defendant must be citizens of different states); (2) have an amount in controversy exceeding $5,000,000; and (3) involve claims of monetary relief of at least 100 persons that involve common questions of law or fact. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(A); 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(i).

" CAFA does not change the traditional rule that the party seeking to remove the case to federal court bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction." Joseph v. Unitrin, Inc., No. 1:08-CV-077, 2008 WL 3822938, at *4 (E.D. Tex. Aug. 12, 2008) (internal citation and quotation marks omitted); see also Preston v. Tenet Healthsystem Mem'l Med. Ctr., Inc., 485 F.3d 793, 797 (5th Cir. 2007). However, once federal jurisdiction under CAFA is established, the burden shifts to the objecting party to prove, by a preponderance of the evidence, the absence of jurisdiction. See Laffin v. Nat'l Football League, No. 3:11-CV-345-M,

Page 696

2011 WL 1396887, at *1 (N.D. Tex. Apr. 12, 2011) (Lynn, J.).

1. Defendants must only show that at least one Plaintiff seeks in excess of $75,000 to properly remove this ...


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