Tuesday, October 11, 2005

First Circuit Joins 7th & 10th in CAFA Ruling

In Natale v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 05-2203, decided September 16, 2005, the First Circuit joined the Seventh and Tenth Circuits in ruling that, for purposes of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), "commencement" does not refer to the time of removal, but rather the time of filing. Subsequently, the Ninth Circuit has also agreed. (Each opinion has also noted, alluded to, or held that "filed" is defined by reference to the state law in which the case was originally filed.)

CAFA allows for the removal of certain state filed class actions based on "minimal diversity." It also allows some aggregation of claims in order to meet a minimum amount in controversy. CAFA's section 9 notes that CAFA applies to actions "commenced" after the date of enactment. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri held, while reminding us of our favorite childhood songs, that "enactment" means the date the President signs the bill into law, not the date the law was presented after passage by Congress.

The Seventh Circuit has clarified its holding by suggesting that some post-filed amendments made after the date CAFA was enacted may nonetheless allow for removal under CAFA.

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