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Winkworth v. Spectrum Brands, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 21, 2019

BRUCE WINKWORTH and MARCIA BOTELHO, Individually and on behalf of themselves and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Plaintiffs,
v.
SPECTRUM BRANDS, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION

          PATRICIA L. DODGE UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         Defendant Spectrum Brands, Inc., (“Spectrum”), removed the present case to this Court under 28 U.S.C. § 1453.[1] (ECF No. 1). Pending before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand this action to state court. (ECF No. 6). Because the jurisdictional requirements under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) are satisfied, Plaintiffs' motion will be denied.[2]

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs commenced this class action lawsuit in the Court of Common Pleas of Jefferson County, Pennsylvania, “to redress a defective and dangerous condition present in the Remington® Hot Rollers (“Hot Rollers”) that were warranted, advertised, distributed, and sold” by Spectrum throughout the United States. (ECF No. 1-1 ¶ 1). Specifically, Plaintiffs allege that due to a latent defect, the Hot Rollers “heat to unreasonably unsafe temperatures when operated as instructed . . . thereby exposing consumers to dangerous skin contact . . . .” (Id. ¶ 5). Plaintiffs claim that this alleged defect “is unreasonably dangerous and renders the Hot Rollers unfit to use when curling hair with a bare hand . . . .” (Id. ¶ 16).

         Plaintiffs seek to represent two classes with respect to these allegations:

(1) A nationwide Injunctive/Declaratory Relief Class (“Nationwide Class”) consisting of all persons in the United States who own a Hot Roller purchased during the four (4) years preceding the filing of this action, and
(2) A Pennsylvania-only Damages Class (“Pennsylvania Class”) consisting of all persons in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania who purchased a Hot Roller during the four (4) years preceding the filing of this action.

(Id. ¶¶ 66-67).

         In their complaint, Plaintiffs assert multiple claims on behalf of one or both of these classes, including breach of the implied warranty of merchantability, breach of express warranty, violation of the Magnuson-Moss Consumer Products Warranties Act, negligence, and negligent failure to warn. (Id. ¶¶ 79-95, 96-120, 121-134, 135-143, 144-155). In their prayer for relief, Plaintiffs seek, inter alia, an order certifying both classes, compensatory damages sustained by Plaintiffs and both classes, equitable and injunctive relief for the Nationwide Class, payment of costs of the lawsuit, pre-judgment and post-judgment interest on any amounts awarded, punitive damages, and reasonable attorneys' fees. (Id. at 34-35). As it relates to the Nationwide Class, Plaintiffs request declaratory relief related to the defect, the remediation of the defect, and its coverage under the available express and implied warranties. (Id. ¶¶ 95, 119, 133).

         Spectrum filed a timely notice of removal in this Court averring that the jurisdictional requirements under CAFA are satisfied. (ECF No. 1). In their Motion to Remand, Plaintiffs contest Spectrum's allegation regarding the amount in controversy. (ECF No. 6). This motion has been fully briefed and is ripe for resolution. (ECF Nos. 7, 12, 13).

         II. Standard of Review

         “The removing party . . . carries a heavy burden of showing that at all stages of the litigation the case is properly before the federal court. Removal statutes are to be strictly construed, with all doubts to be resolved in favor of remand.” Manning v. Merrill Lynch Pierce Fenner & Smith, Inc., 772 F.3d 158, 162 (3d Cir. 2014) (quoting Brown v. Jevic, 575 F.3d 322, 326 (3d Cir. 2009)). However, “no antiremoval presumption attends cases invoking CAFA, which Congress enacted to facilitate adjudication of certain class actions in federal court.” Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 574 U.S. 81, 89 (2014) (citing Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 568 U.S. 588, 595 (2013)). A court shall remand a removed case “if at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         III. Discussion

         Under CAFA, a defendant may remove a class action to a federal district court so long as the action satisfies the statute's special diversity and procedural requirements. Specifically, federal district courts have original jurisdiction over such cases when (1) there are at least 100 members of the class; (2) there is minimal diversity, i.e., any member of the class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a different state from any defendant; and (3) the amount in controversy, as aggregated across all individual claims, exceeds the sum or value of $5 million (exclusive ...


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