Migis v. AutoZone, Inc., _____ F. 3d _______, 2009 WL 69027 (D. Or.).

OK, CAFA readers, who watches Lost? I know you are out there. I am both a Lost fan (never missed an episode) and an appellate law junkie. It is a miracle I snagged a husband and managed to produce a normal child. 

Anyway, when I first read the Migis case, I recalled the “Dead is Dead” episode from this season in which the evil/good/crazy Benjamin Linus says, “Dead is dead. You don’t come back from that, not even here.” Well, you can say the same for federal court. Dead is dead. Once you are remanded, you don’t come back from that, not even under CAFA.

For those of you who are not Losties, here is the deal. Ben kills Locke by strangling him right before Ben was about to kill himself. Then Ben manages to get Locke’s body on the plane that is supposed to take all the Losties who got off the island back to the island. The plane crashes and low and behold, once back on the island Locke is alive again. Or is he? When Sun asks Ben if Locke came back from the dead, he said, “ Dead is Dead. You don’t come back from that, not even here.”

Yes, Yes, I am going to get to the case. Here are the facts. Plaintiff Migis files suit against AutoZone on behalf of himself and others he claims were the victim of Oregon state wage and hour violations by the Zone de Auto. 

AutoZone removes under CAFA. Federal District Court Judge John Locke (I am kidding, his name is Judge King) remands the case to state court because CAFA’s amount in controversy was not met. Here comes the interesting part. 

AutoZone filed a motion for permission to appeal with the 9th Circuit pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c). In the mean time, the district court clerk dutifully sent the certified copy of the order remanding the case to the state court where proceedings continued.

Here is where the “dead is dead” connection comes in. AutoZone filed a motion for stay in the Federal District Court seeking to stay proceedings until the 9th Circuit determined whether it would accept AutoZone’s appeal. Plaintiff argued, “Hey, once you are dead, you can’t come back.” Or, in other words, once the case is remanded to state court, the federal court loses jurisdiction to rule on the motion to stay.

The Federal Court agreed stating, “When a district court certifies a remand order to state court under § 1447(c), the district court no longer has jurisdiction and can take no further action on the case.” District Judge King disagreed with AutoZone’s argument that CAFA not only allows for appellate review but makes a remand order under CAFA an exception to the general rule that the certification of the remand order divests the district court of jurisdiction. Dead is Dead.

While reading this case, questions kept knocking around my head. Did AutoZone unsuccessfully attempt to have the state court judge stay the proceedings before filing its Hail Mary pass in federal court. Will the Losties learn to stop following Jack because everything he does ends up with someone dead? Is Ben really bad? Can you change the future by changing the past? Did I set my Tivo up correctly to record the Lost season finale because I have to drive to Waxahachie, Texas for a hearing and may not be back in time to watch it live?