Eufaula Drugs, Inc. v. ScripSolutions, No. 2:05CV370-A, 2005 WL 2465746 (M.D. Ala. Oct. 6, 2005).
The plaintiff, Eufaula Drugs, misspelled the name of the defendant, ScripSolutions, in a pre-CAFA state court class action, but the later amended complaint correcting that mistake did not commence a new action under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005, according to the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama. W. Harold Albritton, Senior District Judge, recognizing that federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and can hear only those cases authorized by the Constitution or Congress, found that remand of removed cases is favored in the Eleventh Circuit “where federal jurisdiction is not absolutely clear.”
Eufaula, an independent pharmacy, filed its state court class action lawsuit over pharmacy reimbursement rates against “ScriptSolutions” on February 17, 2005, the day before the CAFA became law. In April, Eufaula filed its amended complaint, substituting “ScripSolutions” (no “t”) as the proper defendant and correcting the spelling of the defendant’s name. ScripSolutions removed the case to federal court, arguing that it is a Delaware corporation wholly unrelated to the New York corporation “Scriptsolutions,” and that the amended complaint had “commenced” an action against the ScripSolutions under the Class Action Fairness Act.
Relying heavily on Knudsen v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 411 F.3d 805 (7th Cir. 2005) (see CALA Law Blog 9/3/05 post), Senior Judge Albritton said that Knudsen’s dicta notes that an action is commenced under CAFA if the filing relates back to the original complaint for statute of limitations purposes. Eufaula satisfied Alabama’s state law relation back rule, because ScripSolutions was on notice within 120 days of the original filing, the court said.
ScripSolutions tried to defeat remand by asserting diversity jurisdiction, despite Eufaula’s allegation that each class member specifically limited the relief sought to $74,500 per plaintiff. The court, recognizing the recent Supreme Court decision in Exxon Mobile Corp. v. Allapattah Services, Inc., ____ U. S. ____, 125 S. Ct. 2611, 2615 (2005) (see CAFA Law Blog 9/22/05 post), held that the defendant did not meet its burden of proving “to a legal certainty that the amount sought is more than $75,000 for at least one plaintiff,” rejecting ScripSolutions’ efforts to defeat remand by claiming that unnamed plaintiffs met the $75,000 minimum jurisdictional amount in controversy for traditional federal diversity jurisdiction.
Since CAFA didn’t apply and since ScripSolutions couldn’t meet the minimum amount in controversy requirements to maintain federal diversity jurisdiction, Senior Judge Albritton remanded the case to state court.