Avritt v. Reliastar Life Ins. Co., 2009 WL 1703224 (D. Minn. June 18, 2009)

Alas, jurisdiction under CAFA was never meant to be for the defendant. In this case, the plaintiffs’ motion for class certification was denied, and, thus, jurisdiction under CAFA was let go by the defendant. Without class certification, the plaintiffs questioned whether they should even be with the defendant any more (in federal court). 

The Judge noted that there has been a split among district courts as to whether jurisdiction under CAFA continues to exist following the denial of class certification or dismissal of class claims. There are those district courts that believe that CAFA jurisdiction will come back and is forever. According to these district courts, the denial of class certification is merely a change in jurisdictional fact, and they rely on the principal that jurisdictional facts do not affect continued jurisdiction. Moreover, some of these courts note that if CAFA jurisdiction is lost when class claims are no longer operative, plaintiffs could engage in forum shopping by withdrawing their class claims to manufacture a remand to state court or a dismissal without prejudice. 

However, there are district courts who believe that once you let it go, CAFA jurisdiction will not return and was never meant to be. These district courts do not treat the denial of class certification as a post-filing or post-removal change but, instead, as a legal determination that the plaintiff’s claims did not constitute an actual or potential class action. Consequently, these courts conclude that denial of class certification is tantamount to a determination that there is not and never was CAFA jurisdiction. 

In the instant case, the Judge found that once you let it go, CAFA jurisdiction will not return and was never meant to be. However all is not lost, the Judge did say that true love and CAFA jurisdiction is still possible if there is “reasonably foreseeable possibility” that a class could be certified. 

The moral of the case is that if you love CAFA jurisdiction, be careful where you let it go because it might not return to you (unless there is a reasonably foreseeable possibility that the issue of class certification will be revisited).