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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Lloyd v. General Motors: Maryland Federal Court Denies Motion To Remand Class Action Holding That Under Maryland Law Amendment Adding New Plaintiffs Commenced New Action Under Class Action Fairness Act

Sep 24, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Products Liability Class Action Complaint Originally Filed in 1999 Removable under CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act) because Maryland Law Holds Amendments that Add New Party Plaintiffs do not Relate Back so 2007 Amendment to Add New Named Plaintiffs Commenced New Class Action under CAFA Maryland Federal Court Holds

In 1999, plaintiffs filed a putative class action in Maryland state court against four automobile manufacturers seeking “damages arising from the cost of replacing allegedly defective seating systems”; Eight years later, defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court on the ground that removal jurisdiction existed under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). Lloyd v. General Motors Corp., 560 F.Supp.2d 420, 421 (D.Md. 2008). Plaintiffs did not dispute that their class action involved more than 100 plaintiffs, or that the amount in controversy was more than $5,000,000, or that the minimal diversity test under CAFA had been met. Id., at 423 n.3. Instead, plaintiffs moved to remand the class action to state court on the ground that the Class Action Fairness Act applies only to class actions “commenced” on or after February 18, 2005 – long after they had filed their class action complaint in this case. Id., at 421. Defense attorneys countered that plaintiffs’ fourth amended class action complaint materially changed the lawsuit so as to “commence” a new action within the meaning of CAFA. Id. The district court agreed and denied the motion to remand the class action state court.

The initial class action complaint alleged that the seating systems in defendants’ cars were “unreasonably dangerous” because they were “susceptible to rearward collapse in the event of a rear-end collision.” Lloyd, at 421. Over the following six months, plaintiffs amended the class action complaint three times “adding several new named plaintiffs and significantly expanding the class of relevant automobiles.” Id. In March 2000, the Maryland state court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss the third amended class action complaint “ruling that the Plaintiffs had failed to plead actual injury and that their claims were barred by the economic loss doctrine.” Id., at 422. The case was tied up in the appellate courts until February 2008, when the Maryland Court of Appeals reinstated the class action complaint. Id. (citing Lloyd v. General Motors Corp., 916 A.2d 257 (Md. 2007). On August 19, 2007, plaintiffs filed a fourth amended class action complaint that, in the district court’s words, “alter[ed] their claims in three significant respects: first, by adding five new named plaintiffs, three of whom were never a part of the putative class; second, by including in the putative class lessees of class vehicles for model years 1988-2005; and third, by including in the putative class owners of class vehicles for model years 1988-89 and 2000-2005. “ Id. It was based on these amendments that defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court, arguing that under CAFA a new action had been “commenced” after February 18, 2005. Id.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases – Louisiana v. Allstate: Fifth Circuit Holds State’s Parens Patriae Lawsuit Removable To Federal Court Under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) Based On “Real Parties In Interest” And “Real Nature” Of Action

Sep 10, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Antitrust Lawsuit Brought by State on Behalf of Insurance Policyholders as a Parens Patriae Action, not a Class Action, Removable to Federal Court under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) because “Real Parties in Interest” were Policyholders and “Real Nature” of Lawsuit was “Mass Action” Fifth Circuit Holds

The State of Louisiana filed a parens patriae action (not a class action) against numerous insurance companies, including Allstate, State Farm, Farmers and USAA, alleging violations of the state’s antitrust laws; specifically, the complaint alleged that defendants “worked together to form a ‘combination’ that illegally suppressed competition in the insurance and related industries” and that “[i]n a scheme to thwart policyholder indemnity and in direct violation of their fiduciary duties, insurer defendants and others continuously manipulated Louisiana commerce by rigging the value of policyholder claims and raising the premiums held in trust by their companies for the benefit of policy holders to cover their losses as taught by McKinsey Company. Louisiana ex rel. Caldwell v. Allstate Ins. Co., 536 F.3d 418, 421-22 (5th Cir. 2008). Pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), defense attorneys removed the lawsuit to federal court, id., at 422. The defense urged that the law was “in substance” a “class action” or a “mass action” within the meaning of the Class Action Fairness Act because it seeks treble damages on behalf of all Louisiana insurance policyholders. Id., at 423. Louisiana moved the district court to remand the action to state court, arguing that CAFA did not apply because the lawsuit was not a class action. Id., at 422-23. Focusing on who the “real parties in interest” are, the district court denied the motion. As permitted by the Class Action Fairness Act, the Fifth Circuit granted Louisiana permission to appeal the remand order. The central issue on appeal was “whether the ‘person who [was] injured in his business or property’ – in this case the policyholders – are the real parties in interest.” Id., at 430. The Fifth Circuit concluded, “We have no reason to believe that they are not,” id., and affirmed.

We do not here discuss the factual allegations in the State’s complaint. See Allstate, at 422-23. The Fifth Circuit summarized defendants’ arguments as follows: Even though the complaint is styled as a parens patriae action, it is “in substance and in fact” a class action within the meaning of the Class Action Fairness Act. Id., at 423. Defense attorneys argued that the fact Louisiana was not proceeding under Rule 23 was not dispositive; rather, they urged the district court to “look beyond the labels used in the complaint and determine the real nature of Louisiana’s claims,” and they “highlighted that several other similar purported class actions are and/or were pending before the same federal district court, where the same group of lawyers filed, or attempted to file, nearly identical claims as those alleged in this case by the state of Louisiana, as further evidence that this lawsuit is in fact a class action.” Id., at 423 (citations omitted). The Circuit Court explained at page 423 that “the district court was primarily concerned about who the real parties in interest are in this case.” The district court believed that he was obligated to examine the true nature of the lawsuit, explaining that “it’s the Court’s responsibility to not just merely rely on who a plaintiff chose to sue, or, in this case, how the plaintiff chose to plead, but I have to look at the specific substance” of the action. Id. The district court concluded that the State was but a nominal party, and the real parties were the insurance policyholders; accordingly, it concluded that the lawsuit was properly removable under CAFA and denied the motion to remand. Id.

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Class Action Fairness Act Cases–Bullard v. Burlington Northern: Seventh Circuit Affirms Denial Of Remand Motion Holding Suit On Behalf Of 144 Plaintiffs Was A Mass Action Within Meaning Of Class Action Fairness Act

Aug 5, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

As Matter of First Impression, Class Action Fairness Act Permitted Removal of Suit as a “Mass Action” because Plaintiffs’ Counsel Designed the Lawsuit as a “Class Action Substitute” Seventh Circuit Holds

Plaintiffs filed a complaint in Illinois state court against four defendants alleging that they had “designed, manufactured, transported, or used chemicals that allegedly escaped from a wood-processing plant and injured people living nearby”; defense attorneys removed the complaint to federal court, arguing that federal court jurisdiction existed under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). Bullard v. Burlington Northern Santa Fe R.R. Co., 535 F.3d 759 (7th Cir. 2008) [Slip Opn., at 1-2]. Specifically, defense attorneys argued that the litigation constituted a “mass action” within the meaning of the Class Action Fairness Act, _id._¸ at 2. (Under the Class Action Fairness Act, “mass actions” also may be removed to federal court; the Seventh Circuit summarized the definition of “mass actions” under CAFA as cases “involving the claims of 100 or more litigants – if at least one plaintiff demands $75,000, the stakes of the action as a whole exceed $5 million, and minimal diversity of citizenship exists.” Id., at 2 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)).) Plaintiffs’ moved the district court to remand the case to state court; they conceded that the diversity and amount-in-controversy tests had been met, but argued that the lawsuit was not a “mass action” under the Class Action Fairness Act. Id. The district court denied the motion, and the Seventh Circuit granted leave to appeal “because the legal issue is novel” and “has not been addressed in this or any other circuit.” Id. The Circuit Court affirmed.

The Class Action Fairness Act permits removal of “mass actions” when “monetary relief claims of 100 or more persons are proposed to be tried jointly on the ground that plaintiffs’ claims involve common questions of law or fact.” Bullard, at 2. Plaintiffs argued that this means “defendants may remove a ‘mass action’ only on the eve of trial, once a final pretrial order or equivalent document identifies the number of parties to the trial.” Id. The Circuit Court characterized the lawsuit as “a class-action substitute.” Id., at 3. The Court explained at page 3, “Their complaint alleges that several questions of law and fact are common to all 144 plaintiffs; it provides no more information about each individual plaintiff than an avowed class [action] complaint would do. No one supposes that all 144 plaintiffs will be active; a few of them will take the lead, just as in a class action, and as a practical matter counsel will dominate, just as in a class action. Nonetheless, plaintiffs say, they are entitled to litigate in state court because the Class Action Fairness Act has a loophole.” The loophole envisioned by plaintiffs, however, would prevent the application of the removal of “mass actions” until just before trial. As the Seventh Circuit noted, this reading would eviscerate the statute. “Courts do not read statutes to make entire subsections vanish into the night.” Id., at 3.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Spivey v. Vertrue: Seventh Circuit Reverses Order Remanding Class Action To State Court And Holds Petition Under CAFA For Leave To Appeal May Be Filed More Than 7 Day After Entry Of Order

Jul 14, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

District Court erred in Remanding Class Action to State Court because Defense Established Removal Jurisdiction under CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act) Seventh Circuit Holds

Plaintiff filed a class action complaint in state court against Vertrue alleging that it improperly billed its customers for unauthorized charges; specifically, the putative class action “proposed to represent a class of persons whose credit cards had been charged without authorization through 22 of Vertrue’s programs.” Spivey v. Vertrue, Inc., 528 F.3d 982, 983 (7th Cir. 2008). Defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court, asserting that federal court jurisdiction existed under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA); plaintiff’s lawyer moved to remand the class action to state court, arguing that the amount in controversy did not exceed $5 million. Id. The district court agreed with plaintiff and remanded the class action to state court, id. Defense attorneys petitioned the Seventh Circuit for leave to appeal, as authorized by CAFA. Id. Plaintiff objected on the ground that the petition was untimely – defense attorneys “mailed the petition on the seventh day after the district court’s remand order, and the petition reached [the Circuit Court], and so was ‘filed,’ see Fed. R.App. P. 25(a)(2), on April 18, 2008, the tenth day after the district court’s order.” Id. The Seventh Circuit granted leave to appeal, held that the petition was timely, and reversed.

The Class Action Fairness Act authorizes an appellate court to review a district court order “granting or denying a motion to remand a class action to the State court from which it was removed if application is made to the court of appeals not less than 7 days after entry of the order.” Spivey, at 983 (quoting § 1453©(1)). The Seventh Circuit held at page 983 that “[t]he petition was timely under this language” because it was filed “not less than 7 days” following entry of the order remanding the class action to state court. Id. Plaintiff’s lawyer argued that Congress clearly intended to require a petition for review to be filed “not more than 7 days” after the order is entered, and that “not less than 7 days” is patently erroneous. Id. The Circuit Court noted that several courts have noted this ambiguity and yet Congress has not acted, thus suggesting that CAFA says what Congress intended. Id., at 983-84 (citations omitted). It therefore rejected the arguments of treatises and other courts that reading § 1453©(1) literally creates an absurdity, id., at 984. Indeed, the Seventh Circuit noted at page 984, “To the extent that our colleagues in other circuits hold that a petition filed within seven days of the district court’s order should be accepted, rather than thrown out with instructions to submit another once a week has passed, we concur. Whether a petition filed within a week after the remand is timely was the question actually presented in those appeals. An affirmative answer tracks Fed. R.App. P. 4(a)(2), which says that a premature notice of appeal remains on file and springs into effect when the decision becomes appealable. It makes sense to use the same approach for a premature permission for leave to appeal.” But on the other hand, no federal court had thrown out a petition as untimely when it complied with the literally language of the statute as that would be fundamentally unfair, id., at 984-85. “Litigants and lawyers always should be safe in relying on a statute’s actual language.” Id., at 985. This is particularly true in this case, the Circuit Court explained, because defense attorneys expressly attempted to avoid the ambiguity in the statute “by straddling the deadline.” Id. Accordingly, the Court held that the petition was timely.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Removal Cases–Springman v. AIG: Seventh Circuit Affirms Denial Of Plaintiff’s Motion To Remand Class Action To State Court Upholding Removal Jurisdiction Under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA)

Jun 4, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Amendment of Class Action Complaint to Add Party-Defendant Years after Plaintiff Learned Defendant’s Identity Constituted a New Action Under Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) thereby Creating CAFA Removal Jurisdiction over Class Action Seventh Circuit Holds

In July 2003, plaintiff file a putative class action in Illinois state court against AIG Claim Services and Illinois National Insurance Company for violations of state fraud and consumer protection laws; the class action complaint alleged that AIG Claim Services, in processing claims under Illinois National insurance policies, systematically underpaid accident insurance benefits. Springman v. AIG Marketing, Inc., 523 F.3d 685, 686 (7th Cir. 2008). In December 2003, defense attorneys disclosed that AIG had not adjusted plaintiff’s claim; plaintiff did not inquire further until October 2004, at which time he learned that at affiliate, AIG Marketing, had handled the claim underlying the class action. Id. Nonetheless, plaintiff waited another three years before seeking leave to file an amended class action complaint to sue AIG Marketing in place of AIG Claim Services, id. The state court granted the motion, and defense attorney removed the class action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). Id. AIG Claim Services could not have removed the class action itself because the class action complaint had been filed well before CAFA’s effective date, id. Plaintiff’s lawyer moved to remand the class action to state court, but the motion was denied, id. The Seventh Circuit affirmed.

The question before the Circuit Court was whether the substitution of AIG Marketing for AIG Claim Services constituted “the commencement of a suit against AIG[ Marketing] within the meaning of the Class Action Fairness Act, thus enabling removal of the entire suit.” Springman, at 686-87 (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1453(b)). After reaffirming the Seventh Circuit’s law, adoption by all but one other circuit courts, that post-filing acts may affect whether a class action complaint is removable under CAFA, see id., at 687 (citations omitted), the Court reiterated the federal removal doctrine, which permits removal based on post-filings acts if, inter alia, the amended complaint “adds a new defendant.” Id. (citation omitted).

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Korn v. Polo Ralph Lauren: California Federal Court Denies Motion To Remand Class Action To State Court Holding Defense Established Class Action Alleging Song-Beverly Act Violations Involved More Than $5 Million

May 21, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Defense Evidence in Support of Removal of Class Action to Federal Court Adequately Established Removal Jurisdiction under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) California Federal Court Holds

Plaintiff filed a putative class action lawsuit in California state court against Polo Ralph Lauren alleging violations of California’s Song-Beverly Act; specifically, the class action complaint alleged that defendant requested personal information from customers as part of credit card transactions in violation of California Civil Code § 1747.08. Korn v. Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., 536 F.Supp.2d 1199, 1202 (E.D. Cal. 2008). Defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court alleging removal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA); plaintiffs moved to remand the class action to state court on the grounds that defendant failed to establish the requisite diversity or amount in controversy. Id. As the district court explained, “CAFA grants district courts original jurisdiction over civil class actions filed under federal or state law in which any member of a class of plaintiffs is a citizen of a state different from any defendant and the amount in controversy for the putative class members in the aggregate exceeds the sum or value of $5,000,000, exclusive of interest and costs.” Id. (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(2)). The district court refused to remand the class action to state court, holding that defendant sufficiently established CAFA removal jurisdiction.

Plaintiff first argued that Polo Ralph Lauren did not establish that it was not a citizen of California, Korn, at 1201; the district court rejected this argument, noting that plaintiff is bound by the judicial admission in his complaint that defendant is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey, id., at 1203. Accordingly, the federal court held plaintiff “bound by the allegations in his complaint that assert defendant’s citizenship, for purposes of diversity jurisdiction, is in Delaware and New Jersey.” Id. Plaintiff next argued that the defense failed to establish the $5,000,000 amount in controversy requirement. Id., at 1201. While the class action complaint did not seek a specific amount of damages, the district court observed that the class action seeks “statutory civil penalties for the alleged violations [of] up to $1000 per violation.” Id., at 1202. Further, as part of the documentation supporting removal of the class action to federal court, defense attorneys had submitted a declaration establishing that Polo Ralph Lauren had “processed more than 5,000 credit card transactions over the last year in the state of California.” Id. The district court held that this was sufficient.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Pew v. Cardarelli: Second Circuit Holds District Court Erred In Remanding Class Action Because Exception To CAFA Removal Jurisdiction Limited To “Disputes Over The Meaning Of The Terms Of A Security”

May 19, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

District Court Erred in Remanding Class Action to State Court because while Class Action Complaint Involved Sale of Securities it was Premised on Fraudulent Concealment of Company’s Financial Condition so Exception to CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act) Removal Jurisdiction did not Apply Second Circuit Holds

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action in New York state court against various defendants, including Agway (the issuer) and PriceWaterhouseCoopers (its auditor), alleging violations of New York’s consumer fraud statute; specifically, the class action complaint asserted “that officers of an issuer – abetted by the issuer’s auditor – failed to disclose, while marketing certain debt certificates, that the issuer was insolvent.” Estate of Pew v. Cardarelli, 527 F.3d 25 (2d Cir. 2008) [Slip Opn., at 3]. Plaintiffs had filed a prior class action complaint in New York state court alleging Agway failed to disclose in financial statements that it was insolvent, and was discharging its debts through the issuance of new certificates; defense attorneys removed that class action to federal court, so plaintiffs amended the class action “to plead essentially the same acts of concealment under New York’s consumer fraud law.” Id., at 5. The district court subsequently granted a defense motion to dismiss with prejudice the federal securities claims, but dismissed without prejudice the remaining state law claim based on its decision not to exercise supplemental jurisdiction over it. Id., at 6. Plaintiffs then filed another class action in New York state court that sought relief only under New York law, id. Defense attorneys again removed the class action to federal court, asserting removal jurisdiction existed under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), id. The district court granted plaintiffs’ motion to remand the class action to state court on the ground that it “falls within an exception to CAFA’s removal provision for actions ‘that relate[] to the rights, duties (including fiduciary duties), and obligations relating to or created by or pursuant to any security.” Id., at 6-7. The Second Circuit granted a defense request for permission to appeal, and reversed.

Agway was an agricultural supply and marketing cooperative that sought to raise money by issuing unsecured, fixed-interest debt instruments (money market certificates). Pew, at 4. The question presented was whether the class action’s “state-law consumer fraud claim” falls within the exception to CAFA jurisdiction, as determined by the district court. Id., at 13. Finding that “the imperfect drafting of the status makes it ambiguous,” id., and elsewhere describing CAFA’s text as “cryptic,” see id., at 19, the Circuit Court examined the statute’s wording, context and legislative history. Based on its analysis, the Second Circuit held that even though the Agway Certificates are “securities” and create “obligations” and “rights” in the holders, id., at 18, the exception to CAFA did not apply because the gravamen of the class action complaint “does not ‘relate[] to’ those rights; rather, it is a state-law consumer fraud action alleging that Agway fraudulently concealed its insolvency when it peddled the Certificates.” Id., at 19. In sum, the Court held that Congress intended to reserve the exception to CAFA removal jurisdiction for “‘disputes over the meaning of the terms of a security,’ such as how interest rates are to be calculated, and so on.” Id., at 23. Accordingly, it concluded that the district court erred in remanding the class action to state court and reversed. Id.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Brooks v. GAF: South Carolina Federal Court Remand Class Action To State Court For Lack Of Requisite Amount In Controversy But Expressly Prohibits Plaintiffs From Recovering Damages In Excess Of Prayer

May 8, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

As Master of Class Action Complaint Plaintiffs Successfully Limited Amount in Controversy so as to Preclude Removal Jurisdiction on Diversity Grounds or under CAFA (Class Action Fairness Act) Necessitating Remand of Class Action to State Court, but South Carolina Federal Court Expressly Limits Plaintiffs’ Individual and Class Action Recovery to Limits Pleaded in Class Action Complaint

Plaintiffs filed a putative class action lawsuit in South Carolina state court against GAF Materials “alleging claims for negligence, negligent representation, breach of warranty, breach of implied warranties, fraud, a violation of the South Carolina Unfair Trade Practices Act (‘SCUPTA’), and unjust enrichment.” Brooks v. GAF Materials Corp., 532 F.Supp.2d 779, 780 (D.S.C. 2008). The class action complaint alleges the class “suffered property damage as a result of the Defendant’s defective roofing materials” and seeks compensatory and punitive damages, but in order to avoid removal jurisdiction the class action complaint expressly states that the “amount in controversy for the entire proposed Class does not exceed five million dollars” and that “[t]he Plaintiffs’ individual recovery, as well as any putative Class Members individual recovery, exclusive of interest and costs, is not to exceed $74,999.00.” Id. Defense attorneys removed the suit to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), and plaintiffs’ moved to remand the action to state court. Id. Defense attorneys originally removed the class action in May 2006, but the district court granted plaintiffs’ motion to remand “because the amount in controversy does not exceed $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, for diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332.” Id., at 780. After plaintiffs amended their class action complaint, defense attorneys again removed the action to federal court but the district court remanded the action “for lack of jurisdiction based on the one-year cap on removal set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b),” id., at 780-81, but the court subsequently rescinded its remand order and requested briefing on whether the amount in controversy exceeded $5 million for purposes of CAFA removal jurisdiction, id., at 781.The district court granted the motion.

In analyzing whether the Class Action Fairness Act authorized removal of this lawsuit, the district court stressed that “Plaintiffs have placed a clear limitation on damages in their complaint.” Brooks, at 782. The Court held at page 782, “the court declines to ‘adopt any approach under which the court will be required to undertake its own independent review of the amount in controversy despite a specific limitation on damages in the plaintiff’s complaint.’” As the master of their complaint, plaintiffs are entitled to limit damages sought therein in order to avoid removal jurisdiction, and they effectively did so here. Id. Accordingly, the district court granted plaintiffs’ motion to remand the class action to state court, finding that the amount in controversy requirement had not been met. Id., at 782-83. However, the federal court expressly barred plaintiffs from playing games with removal. The court’s remand order expressly states, “with respect to all claims, the Plaintiffs are barred from recovering a total amount of damages, including actual damages, punitive damages, treble damages, and statutory attorney’s fees, exceeding five million dollars ($5,000,000), exclusive of interest and costs for the putative class action, and the Plaintiffs are barred from recovering a total amount of damages, including actual damages, punitive damages, treble damages, and statutory attorney’s fees, exceeding seventy-four thousand nine hundred ninety-nine dollars ($74,999.00), exclusive of interest and costs, for any individual claims.” Id., at 783.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–In re Katrina Canal: Fifth Circuit Affirms Denial Of Motion To Remand Class Action To State Court Holding State Sovereignty Did Not Preclude Removal Of Class Action Under CAFA Because Citizens Were Class Members

Apr 23, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Class Action by State on Behalf of Itself and Citizens Properly Removed under Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) because State’s Sovereign Immunity not Applicable to Citizens Fifth Circuit Holds

Louisiana’s Attorney General Louisiana filed a putative class action against more than 200 insurance companies on behalf of the State and numerous Louisiana citizens based on defendants’ alleged failure to pay for covered insurance claims arising out of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita; the class action complaint alleged only state law claims, and sought compensatory, declaratory and injunctive relief. In re Katrina Canal Litig. Breaches, 524 F.3d 700, 2008 WL 1118176, *1 (5th Cir. 2008). Defense attorneys removed the class action to federal court asserting removal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) and the Multiparty Multiform Trial Jurisdiction Act (MMTJA). Id., at *1, *3. Louisiana moved to remand the class action to state court, “arguing that CAFA did not apply and that Louisiana enjoyed sovereign immunity from involuntary removal to federal court in that it was suing in its state court to enforce state law.” Id., at *1. The district court denied the motion; because it found that removal jurisdiction existed under CAFA, it did not reach the issue of whether jurisdiction also existed under MMTJA. Id., at *3. The Fifth Circuit granted the State’s petition under CAFA for permission to appeal the remand order under CAFA, and then affirmed.

On appeal, Louisiana argued “CAFA does not apply, and that even if it does apply by its terms, it cannot abrogate sovereign immunity from federal process, or at the least Congress did not clearly do so in CAFA.” In re Katrina, at *3. (Louisiana also raised arguments under MMTJA, but the Fifth Circuit did not address this issue so we do not discuss it here.) The only aspect of CAFA removal jurisdiction challenged on appeal was diversity; specifically, Louisiana argued that a state is not a person for purposes of diversity jurisdiction and, further, that “it has not filed a class action as defined by CAFA.” Id. The Fifth Circuit held that this was not the relevant inquiry, because “Louisiana seeks relief for both the State and the citizens as “recipients” of insurance.” and the citizens adequately satisfied the minimal diversity required by CAFA. Id. The “difficult question” addressed by the Circuit Court was whether state sovereignty barred removal. Id.

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CAFA Class Action Defense Cases–Lussier v. Dollar Tree: Ninth Circuit Upholds Denial Of Attorney Fees For Flawed Removal Of Class Action Under Class Action Fairness Act Because Basis For Removal Was Objectively Reasonable

Apr 22, 2008 | By: Michael J. Hassen

Following Remand of Labor Law Class Action to State Court on Grounds that Class Action had been “Commenced” Prior to Effective Date of Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) thus Precluding Removal Jurisdiction under CAFA, District Court did not Abuse its Discretion in Refusing to Award Plaintiffs Attorney Fees because Defense Removed Class Action under a Novel Theory of First Impression Ninth Circuit Holds Plaintiffs filed a class action lawsuit against Dollar Tree Stores alleging various labor law violations.

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