The opinion of the court was delivered by: BRODERICK
The representative Plaintiffs in this case are the Marino family. According to their complaint, the Marinos purchased on December 17, 1994 a Vitamaster Treadmill from Defendant The Sports Authority, a retail sporting goods chain. The treadmill was manufactured by Defendant Roadmaster Corporation and contained a motor manufactured by Defendant Brook-Crompton and supplied to Roadmaster by Defendant General Electric Company. On February 13, 1995, one of the Marino children, Teresa, used the treadmill. The treadmill overheated and caught fire, allegedly causing fire and smoke damage to the Marino's home and causing personal injuries to Teresa Marino.
The Plaintiffs commenced this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on October 31, 1995. Alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the Defendants removed the case to federal court on December 1, 1995, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441. The court held a pretrial conference on January 26, 1996 at which time the court ordered that discovery concerning the issue of class certification shall be completed by April 29, 1996. The court also ordered the parties to submit briefs concerning the issue of class certification following the close of the discovery period. Pursuant to the parties' request, the court on April 30, 1996 extended the discovery period to May 31, 1996. The court on June 6, 1996 held a pretrial conference concerning several discovery motions filed by the Plaintiffs. At this conference, the parties agreed to submit to the court a proposed schedule amending the time for discovery and for submitting briefs. The parties, however, failed to submit a proposed discovery and briefing schedule. Accordingly, on June 14, 1996 the Plaintiffs filed their brief in support of class certification. At the Defendants' request, the court on June 19, 1996 extended for a third time the discovery period to July 31, 1996 and set forth a briefing order requiring the Defendants to file their briefs by August 16, 1996. In accordance with the order, the Defendants filed on August 16, 1996 their briefs in opposition to class certification. The Plaintiffs filed their reply brief to the Defendants' briefs on September 19, 1996.
I. Plaintiffs' proposed nation-wide class of consumers seeking refunds based on state law breach of warranty and violations of state consumer protection laws.
The representative Plaintiffs seek certification of the following nation-wide class of consumers seeking refunds based on state law breach of warranty and violations of state consumer protection laws:
All individuals and entities, other than defendants and defendants' subsidiaries and parents, who owned or purchased a Vitamaster Power 1700 Treadmill since October, 1994.
As heretofore pointed out, the Plaintiffs commenced this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County on October 31, 1995. Alleging diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, the Defendants removed the case to federal court on December 1, 1995.
The court is mindful that, "federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, and as such are under a continuing duty to satisfy themselves of their jurisdiction before proceeding to the merits of any case." Packard v. Provident National Bank, 994 F.2d 1039, 1049 (3d Cir. 1992), cert. denied sub nom., Upp v. Mellon Bank, N.A., 510 U.S. 964, 126 L. Ed. 2d 373, 114 S. Ct. 440 (1993). A district court may determine sua sponte whether its subject matter jurisdiction has been properly invoked. 14A Wright and Miller, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3739 (1985). The court has determined sua sponte that it lacks diversity jurisdiction over the proposed class of consumers seeking refunds based on state law, as it appears to a legal certainty that each proposed class member cannot satisfy the $ 50,000 amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332.
The federal diversity jurisdiction statute requires that the amount in controversy be in excess of $ 50,000, exclusive of interest and costs. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). With regard to a class-action based on § 1332 diversity jurisdiction, Judge Nygaard stated in Packard v. Provident National Bank :
It is well-settled that in a diversity-based class action, members of the class may not aggregate their claims in order to reach the requisite amount in controversy. Snyder, 394 U.S. 332, 89 S. Ct. 1053, 22 L. Ed. 2d 319 passim. The Supreme Court has also held that each member of the class must claim at least the jurisdictional amount. Zahn v. ...