MRI Associates of St. Pete, Inc. v. State Farm Mutual Auto Insurance Company, 2010 WL 3632714 (M.D.Fla. September 14, 2010)
Here’s the latest example of the confusion caused by the Eleventh Circuit’s decision in Cappuccitti v. DIRECTV [Editor’s Note: see the CAFA Law Blog post on the decision here. And see the article by Anthony Rollo, Hunter Twiford, Richard Freshwater and Stephen Masley in the BNA Class Action Litigation Report here.] The District Court for the Middle District of Florida recognized that, although it is bound by Cappuccitti, the Cappuccitti decision conflicted with CAFA and the removal statutes, so the court took an interesting way out: it stayed the litigation pending a final ruling by the Circuit Court.
MRI initially filed an action in Florida state court against State Farm, alleging that State Farm underpaid medical care providers in violation of various Florida state statutes. State Farm removed the case to the U. S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida under CAFA jurisdiction, and MRI moved to remand, alleging that the case did not meet the $5,000,000 amount in controversy requirement under CAFA.
After a brief discussion of the facts of the case and the relevant amounts in controversy, the district court then addressed the elephant in the room: the Cappuccitti decision. The district court, recognized that it is bound by Cappuccitti “even if it causes conflict with the statute,” and then, acknowledged that both of the parties in Cappuccitti had already filed petitions for rehearing or rehearing en banc. [Editor’s Note: see CAFA Law Blog posts on the parties’ petitions for rehearing here and here and on the amicus brief here.] The district court addressed the elephant in the room eloquently: let’s just stay the motion to remand until we see what the Eleventh Circuit finally decides. We like that approach – simple, elegant, efficient and respectful. And didn’t diss the higher court’s reasoning, despite the golden opportunity to do so, had the lower court so chosen.
It appears that we here at the CAFA Law Blog aren’t the only CAFA aficionados who question the logic behind the Cappuccitti ruling.