We recently composed two blog posts (here and here) about Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Company, LLC v. Owens — a case before the U.S. Supreme Court this term. At issue is the pleading standard for defendants seeking to remove a case to federal court based on the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). In a 5-4 ruling, a divided Court held that class action defendants removing to federal court under CAFA need only to provide a “short and plain” statement of the amount in controversy. In other words, defendants removing under CAFA do not need to provide evidence to support their statement of the amount in controversy. Justice Ginsburg, joined by Chief Justice Roberts and Justices Breyer, Alito and Sotomayor, wrote the opinion, which begins this way:
To remove a case from a state court to a federal court, a defendant must file in the federal forum a notice of removal “containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” 28 U. S. C. §1446(a). When removal is based on diversity of citizenship, an amount-in- controversy requirement must be met. Ordinarily, “the matter in controversy [must] excee[d] the sum or value of $75,000.” §1332(a). In class actions for which the requirement of diversity of citizenship is relaxed, §1332(d) (2)(A)–(C), “the matter in controversy [must] excee[d] the sum or value of $5,000,000,” §1332(d)(2). If the plaintiff’s complaint, filed in state court, demands monetary relief of a stated sum, that sum, if asserted in good faith, is “deemed to be the amount in controversy.” §1446(c)(2). When the plaintiff ’s complaint does not state the amount in controversy, the defendant’s notice of removal may do so. §1446(c)(2)(A).
To assert the amount in controversy adequately in the removal notice, does it suffice to allege the requisite mount plausibly, or must the defendant incorporate into the notice of removal evidence supporting the allegation? That is the single question argued here and below by the parties and the issue on which we granted review. The answer, we hold, is supplied by the removal statute itself. A statement “short and plain” need not contain evidentiary submissions.
Justice Scalia, joined by Justices Kennedy, Kagan and (for the most part) Thomas, dissented on procedural grounds:
When Dart removed this class action to federal court, it was required to file a “notice of removal” containing “a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” 28 U. S. C. §1446(a). In accordance with what it thought to be Tenth Circuit jurisprudence, the District Court interpreted this to require evidence (as opposed to mere allegations) supporting federal jurisdiction. After finding that Dart’s notice of removal did not include evidence of the jurisdictionally required amount in controversy, the District Court remanded the case to state court. App. to Pet. for Cert. 25a–28a. Dart sought permission to appeal this order under §1453(c)(1), which provides that “a court of appeals may accept an appeal from an order of a district court granting or denying a motion to remand a class action to the State court from which it was removed” (emphasis added). Without stating its reasons, the Tenth Circuit issued an order denying Dart’s request. App. to Pet. for Cert. 13a.
Eager to correct what we suspected was the District Court’s (and the Tenth Circuit’s) erroneous interpretation of §1446(a), we granted certiorari to decide whether notices of removal must contain evidence supporting federal jurisdiction. After briefing we discovered a little snag: This case does not present that question. Because we are reviewing the Tenth Circuit’s judgment, the only question before us is whether the Tenth Circuit abused its discretion in denying Dart permission to appeal the District Court’s remand order. Once we found out that the issue presented differed from the issue we granted certiorari to review, the responsible course would have been to confess error and to dismiss the case as improvidently granted.