Brown v. Lee, No. 05-1076 (E.D. Ark. Oct. 21, 2005)[Westlaw cite not yet available].
This suit was originally filed by the plaintiffs in January, 2004, long before the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 became law on February 18, 2005, and did not become a class action complaint until the plaintiffs amended their pleadings to assert class claims on July 8, 2005. That move prompted the defendants to remove the action to federal court claiming federal jurisdiction under CAFA. The plaintiffs then sought to remand the case back to the Pulaski County Circuit Court, reasoning that the original action was filed in state court back in 2004, pre-CAFA.
General Motors (the party actually removing the case to federal court) argued that this was not the typical pre-CAFA filing because none of the class allegations were added until after CAFA became law, and that constituted “commencing” a new action under the Act. That argument did not sway the court, whose decision drew liberally from Weekley v. Guidant Corporation, ___ F. Supp. 2d ___, 2005 WL 2348476 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 23, 2005) (see CAFA Law Blog summary posted on October 6, 2005). The court, reasoning that “a civil action, viewed as the whole case…can only be commenced once,” granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand.
Editor’s Note: It will be interesting to see whether General Motors appeals this decision, as this is arguably the type of post-CAFA amendment which might trigger CAFA-based federal jurisdiction, despite the date of filing, as discussed in several cases previously summarized on the CAFA Law Blog, including Senterfitt v. SunTrust Mortgage, Inc., CV 105-059, 2005 WL 2100594 (S.D. Ga. Aug. 31, 2005) (see CAFA Law Blog summary posted on November 8, 2005) and Knudsen, et al. v. Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, 411 F. 3d 805, 2005 WL 1389059 (7th Cir. June 7, 2005) (see CAFA Law Blog summary posted on Sptember 3, 2005).