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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Watkins v. Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc.: Undisputed Declaration On Sales Of Product Establishes CAFA Jurisdiction In False Advertising Class Action

In Watkins v. Vital Pharmaceuticals, Inc., ___ F.3d ___ (7/2/13), the plaintiff filed a putative nationwide class action in Superior Court, alleging that the defendant, Vital, erroneously marketed and labeled its "ZERO IMPACT" protein bars as having little to no impact on blood sugar. He alleged that "the aggregate damages sustained by the Class are likely in the millions of dollars." 

Vital removed the case to district court, filing two declarations with the notice of removal: (1) a declaration of counsel stating that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million; and (2) a declaration stating that nationwide sales of the bars for the last four years exceeded $5 million. The district court remanded the case sua sponte, holding that Vital did not meet its burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the amount in controversy requirement of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) was met.  

The Ninth Circuit reversed, holding: 

It had jurisdiction to review the district court's order.  Slip op. at 5-6. 

The declaration stating that nationwide sales of the bars exceeded $5 million was sufficient to establish that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million.  Slip op. at 6-7.  

The opinion is available here

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