A federal court in California has determined that the defendants in litigation alleging false advertising, marketing and sale of an earache relief product failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that damages in the case would meet or exceed the jurisdictional minimum of $5 million under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). Manier v. Medtech Prods., Inc., No. 14-0209 (U.S. Dist. Ct., S.D. Cal., order entered April 22, 2014).

While the plaintiffs alleged in their complaint, which seeks to certify statewide and nationwide classes, that the defendants were wrongly enriched by millions of dollars, they also asserted that consumers “are unwittingly spending hundreds of thousands  of dollars each year on a worthless product.”This inconsistency, in the court’s view, undermined the defendants’position that“millions of dollars”means at least $2 million, punitive damages at an estimated 1:1 ratio would also be $2 million, counsel fees could “easily reach seven figures,”and a corrective advertising campaign and recall would cost $1.25 million. Still, the court denied the plaintiffs’request for attorney’s fees and costs related to removal, finding that the defendants did not lack an objectively reasonable basis to remove the matter to federal court.