Beware of speed bumps on the road to CAFA

Rosenberg v. Avis Rent A Car System, Inc., 2007 WL 22136642 (E.D. Pa. July 31, 2007)

Ahhh, summer roadtrips. We just love ‘em here at CAFA Law Blog. Who doesn’t love the top down, wind in our hair, radio blasting Rascal Flatts’“Life is a Highway” while we cruise our cares away?

Larry Rosenberg certainly does. He’s the plaintiff in a recent case before Judge L. Felipe Restrepo of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania. He brought a class action suit against the rental car company Avis, asserting violations of the Unfair Trade Practices and Consumer Protection Law.

Allegedly, Avis has been deceiving customers by charging a $.54 per day vehicle license fee and a $3.95 per day customer facility fee without disclosing the charges. Larry contends the nondisclosure had the effect of making customers believe they were renting cars at a stated price as quoted at the time of rental.

Avis’s response: “Hit the brakes, Larry. Your lawsuit does not satisfy the amount in controversy or the requirements of a putative class size of CAFA.” Avis moved to dismiss based inter alia on the lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Fortunately for Larry, these were minor speedbumps on to the road to CAFA. Let’s proceed over them slowly and cautiously.

Speedbump #1: Paying the $5 Million CAFA Toll

First, Larry as the plaintiff bears the burden of proving to a legal certainty that the amount in controversy exceeds the $5 million CAFA threshold. Larry asserts jurisdiction is proper and points to Avis’s wide scale rental business, including millions of transactions per day that easily satisfies the amount in controversy. The court agrees, and Larry is granted a pass.

Speedbump #2: Roadtrippers, Got Room for 100 more?

Second, Larry must also prove to a legal certainty that at least 100 renters exist to satisfy CAFA’s class size requirement. Based on Avis’s status as one of the largest rental companies in the United States, the court once again gives Larry the greenlight.

After much effort, the court dismisses the action in part on other grounds but allows Larry time to amend his complaint. In the meantime, Larry keeps cruising along on Life’s Highway.