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Saab v. Home Depot U.S.A., WL0249463601, No. 06-8014 (8th Cir. November 22, 2006)
Automotive engineering versus mega home improvement? Nope, but this one might be just as interesting, in a perverse sort of way that only our brilliant CAFA aficionados would appreciate. The Eighth Circuit differentiates between traditional complete diversity jurisdiction and CAFA’s new minimal diversity jurisdiction in the context of appealing a remand related decision.
The Eighth Circuit handed down a short opinion regarding the appeal provisions of CAFA and whether they are applicable to cases removed to federal court under traditional, complete diversity jurisdiction. This may be an important appellate court decision because it draws a distinction between complete diversity jurisdiction and minimal diversity jurisdiction under CAFA, where other courts have tended to blur this distinction, particularly in the context of jurisdictional burden of proof.
On November 22, 2006, United States Circuit Judge Bright, writing for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals, handed down a short opinion regarding CAFA. The Judge did not state the facts of this case, filed in Missouri state court by David Saab on behalf of himself and others against Home Depot. We can only imagine that the plaintiff had some terrible experience with a Do It Yourself project. The judge simply stated that Home Depot removed the class action to district court arguing that the parties were diverse and the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000.00. The removal notice listed traditional, complete diversity jurisdiction as the ground for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). The district court agreed with Home Depot and denied Saab’s motion to remand the case back to Missouri state court. Saab petitioned the Eighth Circuit to accept his appeal pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1), enacted under CAFA. The Eighth Circuit determined, however, that CAFA’s appeal provision does not permit an appeal from the denial of a motion to remand when the class action has been removed to federal court on the basis of traditional, complete diversity jurisdiction under Section 1332(a).
Saab argued that CAFA’s § 1453 should be viewed expansively to give federal courts of appeal jurisdiction to review the grant or denial of a motion to remand in ANY class action. The Eighth Circuit stated that this argument does not differentiate between class actions removed pursuant to 1332(a) – complete diversity jurisdiction, or 1332(d) – CAFA’s minimal diversity jurisdiction. (Editors’ Note: The Eighth Circuit here differentiated between the provisions governing complete diversity jurisdiction and CAFA’s minimal diversity jurisdiction, whereas other courts of appeal have broadly applied Section 1332(a) jurisprudence and precedent to 1332(d) minimum jurisdiction questions under CAFA in a manner that the Editors believe leads to incorrect results since the objectives behind the two types of jurisdiction are opposite. The objective behind complete diversity jurisdiction is to limit access to the federal courts, and the objective behind minimal diversity jurisdiction is to expand access.)
Finally, the Eighth Circuit joined with the Fifth Circuit in Patterson v. Morris and Wallace v. Louisiana Citizens Property Insurance Corp., in its holding. (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Patterson posted on June 5, 2006 and the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Wallace posted on May 22, 2006). The court stated that it must limit § 1453(c)’s appellate review provisions to only those class actions brought under CAFA. According to the Court, that reading is consistent with the legislative history of CAFA, which includes the observation that “new sub-section 1453(c) provides discretionary appellate review of remand orders under this legislation, but also imposes time limits.” (emphasis in original). The Eighth Circuit then dismissed the plaintiff’s petition for permission to appeal. No doubt that the plaintiff felt pretty lowe when his appeal was dismissed.