A quick cash loan store filed a motion of removal of a Madison County class action case to U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).
Mark A. Lewis, individually and on behalf of others similarly situated, filed suit on May 31 against Advance America in Godfrey and Cash Advance Centers of Illinois, Inc.
Lewis alleges in his complaint that he signed a contract with Advance America in July 2010, allowing assignment of his wages if he failed to make proper payments on a loan.
In May 2012, Advance America allegedly faxed a notice of intent to assign wages to Lewis’ employer. However, according to the Illinois Wage Assignment Act, the notice should have been sent directly to Lewis by registered or certified mail, rather than to his employer, the suit claims.
The Illinois Wage Assignment Act, according to the suit, states that a notice of intention for wage assignment must be served to the customer 20 days before a demand is made to an employer.
Lewis claims Advance America served similar improper notices of wage assignment to employers of other customers.
According to CAFA, federal court has jurisdiction in class action cases if there is minimal diversity, 100 or more putative class members and if the case involves an aggregate amount exceeding $5 million.
Defendant Cash Advance Centers of Illinois filed the removal motion on Sept. 17 and claims that CAFA’s minimal diversity requirement is satisfied because at least one defendant is a citizen from a state different than the plaintiff. It claims that when the complaint was filed, it was incorporated in Delaware and its principal place of business, or executive headquarters, was in South Carolina. Because many customers were located in Illinois, it says it is safe to assume that at least one or more members of the class are citizens of states other Delaware and South Caroline, satisfying minimal diversity.
According to the motion for removal, claims of individual plaintiffs shall be aggregated to determine the amount in controversy under CAFA. Because the plaintiff seeks $500 damages for all notices sent after May 31, 2008, which amounts to 10,000 notices, the amount in controversy exceeds $5 million.
“Once the proponent of federal jurisdiction has explained plausibly how the stakes exceed $5 million,” the motion states, “then the case belongs in federal court unless it is legally impossible for the plaintiff to recover that amount.”
Defendant Cash Advance Centers of Illinois, Inc. stated in its motion that the district court is the proper venue because it embraces the county in which the court action is currently pending.
Case Advance claims no proceedings on their part have been filed and states that nothing in the motion should waiver or relinquish their right to assert any defense or affirmative matter.
Lewis seeks a judgment of more than $50,000 in damages plus court costs.
Shari L. Murphy of Wood River represents the plaintiffs.
John S. Sandberg and Katherine L. Opel of Sandberg Phoenix & von Gontard, P.C. in St. Louis represents the defendant.
Madison County Circuit Court case number 13-L-924