Natale v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 05-2203, 2005 WL 2253622 (1st Cir., Sept. 16, 2005).
In a recently issued opinion, the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the First Circuit followed two of its sister circuit courts, holding that a case is not “commenced” under CAFA when it is removed to federal court — rather, a case is commenced when the suit is initially filed.
In this case, Pfizer had been sued in two separate class actions in Massachusetts state court. Both suits were filed prior to CAFA’s enactment date of February 18, 2005. Pfizer timely removed both of the cases to federal court, arguing that CAFA was applicable because the cases were “commenced” by the removal, which took place after CAFA’s enactment date (and within the thirty day window provided under Section 1446(b)). The District Court remanded the cases, but certified the interlocutory appeal, and the 1st Circuit accepted the appeal under Section 5 of CAFA (28 U.S.C. Section 1453(c)(1)).
The 1st Circuit, in this per curiam opinion, considered prior decisions on the issue, including Knutson and Pritchett II ,as holding that “commenced” means “filed,” not “removed.” The Court also considered the 7th Circuit decision in Pfizer v. Lott , quoting Judge Posner at some length. The Court ultimately rejected each of Pfizer’s arguments, holding that the cases were “commenced” by their filing in state court prior to CAFA’s enactment date, and thus, CAFA was inapplicable.