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Tyrone Davis, Latoya James v. Abm Security Services

IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS EASTERN DIVISION


December 29, 2010

TYRONE DAVIS, LATOYA JAMES, JAMIE THOMAS, INDIVIDUALLY AND ON BEHALF OF ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
ABM SECURITY SERVICES, INC., DEFENDANT.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Milton I. Shadur Senior United States District Judge

MEMORANDUM ORDER

This Court has calculated the amount in controversy for purposes of determining the propriety of its removal from the Circuit Court of Cook County under the auspices of the Class Action Fairness Act ("CAFA," 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)). In doing so it has accepted the calculations of counsel for removing defendant ABM Security Services, Inc. ("ABM Security") at pages 8 to 12 of its Third Amended Notice of Removal ("Notice") as to the total amount of back pay damages potentially owed to the putative class members (past and present security guards employed by ABM Security and related companies): the sum of $3,801,204.07.*fn1

But because the same submission claims an unexplained amount of $1,442,878.07 as the 2% per month in damages provided for under the Illinois Minimum Wage Law, 820 ILCS 105/12(a)("Section 105/12(a)")), this Court has made an independent calculation of that figure. It is obvious that the figure in the Notice is probably in large part (if not entirely) due to (1) a mistaken treatment of a year's back pay figure as giving rise to a 24% amount,*fn2 while the actual interest figure is of course only half that amount because the calculation is made monthly and because the back pay accumulates ratably over the year-long period, and (2) the likely failure to read and to apply properly the statutory date when the 2% interest figure kicks in.*fn3

With the 2% interest figures recalculated to correct such errors, they aggregate only $1,193,244, bringing the total amount attributable to the asserted unpaid wages to $4,994,448.07. And as for the only other potential component of plaintiffs' recovery under Section 105/12(a) ("reasonable attorneys' fees"), the test (also employed by ABM Security) is that stated in Oshana v. Coca-Cola Co., 472 F.3d 506, 510-11 (7th Cir. 2006) (citation omitted):

The amount in controversy is the amount required to satisfy the plaintiff's demands in full on the day the suit begins, or in the event of removal, on the day the suit was removed.

As of that date counsel for the putative class had simply filed the Complaint, legal work that did not push the total past the $5 million-plus floor prescribed by CAFA.

Although there may not accordingly be much of a shortfall in CAFA terms, the over-$5 million floor is jurisdictional. Because subject matter jurisdiction is therefore lacking, this Court orders this action remanded to its place of origin in the state court. Finally, because the matter has been hanging fire for an extended period due to the extensive (and much appreciated) work done by ABM Security in marshaling the figures, this Court orders that the certified copy of the order of remand be mailed forthwith, to enable the parties to go about the business of litigating this disputed action.

Dated: December 29, 2010


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