Pfizer v. Lott, 417 F. 3d 725, 2005 WL 1840046 (U.S. 7th Cir. Aug. 4, 2005).
Judge Posner, of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, used a recent ruling to clearly signal the business community and their counsel that removals to federal court will not work for class actions filed in state courts before CAFA became law. Judge Posner’s ruling and dicta appeared in an Illinois class action suit against drug giant Pfizer, alleging consumer protection violations linked to drug overcharges. The original state court action was filed one day before CAFA was signed by President Bush. Pfizer removed the case within the allotted thirty day window.
Jude Posner relied on Knudsen and Pritchett, declaring that the date of commencement for CAFA purposes is the date on which the original state court action is filed, not the date on which the defendant removes the action. It did not matter, Judge Posner noted, that Pfizer’s removal occurred within the normal 30 day removal window.
Nor did the fact that the original suit was filed one day before CAFA’s effective date bolster Pfizer’s removal argument — As Judge Posner pointedly noted: “This is not to belittle Pfizer’s indignation at the plaintiff’s having beat the statute by one day, but their gamesmanship actually hurts its argument.”
Last-minute pre-CAFA effective date filings should have come as no surprise to business interests, Judge Posner noted. “Pharmaceutical and other companies that pressed for the enactment of the Class Action Fairness Act were doubtless acutely aware, as the bill became the statute was wending its way through Congress on route to enactment, that the prospect of its enactment would spur the class action bar to accelerate the filing of state-law class actions in state courts.”