Bush v. Cheaptickets, Inc., 425 F. 3d 683, No. 05-55995 (9th Cir. Oct. 6, 2005).
The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has now joined two of its sister circuits in declaring that the date a suit is filed determines when an action is “commenced” under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. In this case, the plaintiffs beat the CAFA deadline by one day, filing their class action suit against Cheaptickets, Inc. and various other internet-based travel services in California state court on February 17, 2005. CAFA was signed into law the next day, on February 18, 2005, and by its terms, applies to actions filed on or after that date.
Judge Bybee quickly disposed of Cheaptickets’ two main arguments, mincing no words while rejecting the defendants’ primary contention that the date of removal to federal court triggers jurisdiction under CAFA, when he called that argument “nonsensical.” Judge Bybee looked to the Tenth Circuit’s decision in Pritchett v. Office Depot, Inc., 420 F.3d 1090 (10th Cir. 2005), and the Seventh Circuit’s ruling in Knudsen v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Co., 411 F.3d 805 (7th Cir. 2005), both of which declared that the date of filing, rather than the date of removal, determines when an action commences for CAFA purposes.
The defendants fared no better with their second argument –that barring removal under CAFA will lead to problems in cases where there is a long delay between the date of filing and effecting service of process of a pre-CAFA filing on defendants. These are “hypothetical worries,” Judge Bybee said, adding that these pre-CAFA suits “will shortly phase themselves out.”
Editor’s Note: CAFA Law Blog Co-Eecutive Editor Anthony Rollo was recently quoted in an article commenting on the Bush v. Cheaptickets decision, entitled “In Brief,” published in the October 7, 2005 edition of the Recorder. Rollo said, “Plaintiff lawyers rushed to file suit in state courts in the days before the law went into effect . . . .With the Ninth Circuit’s opinion, three federal appeals courts have agreed that the law is not retroactive, and for good reason. That’s what the statute says.”