Judy v. Pfizer, Inc., Case No. 4:05cv1208 RWS, 2005 WL 2240088 (E.D. Mo. Sept. 14, 2005).
According to U. S. District Judge Rodney W. Sipple of the Eastern District of Missouri, the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 is inapplicable to a post-CAFA amended petition asserting additional claims for relief. In this case, Elizabeth Judy, the plaintiff, amended her pre-CAFA state court class action lawsuit against Pfizer over the prescription drug Neurontin. Judy filed her amended petition on July 22, 2005, several months after CAFA’s enactment date, to refine the factual allegations and to assert additional common law claims for relief. Pfizer had removed the case to federal court once before, prior to the enactment of CAFA, and Judge Sipple had remanded, finding no federal question or diversity jurisdiction. Pfizer again removed following the amended complaint, in an attempt to consolidate this case with similar multi-district litigation involving Neurontin, and to invoke CAFA jurisdiction.
Addressing the plaintiff’s motion to remand, the court first dealt with Pfizer’s arguments that CAFA’s legislative history evidences an intent to change the existing removal rules as to which party bears the burden of proof in a removal dispute. Pfizer argued that the Senate Judiciary Committee Report recognized that the burden should be shifted to the plaintiff, citing Berry v. American Express Publishing Corporation, a case decided by the Central District of California, in support of its position. The court rejected this argument, stating that the omission of a burden of proof standard in CAFA does not create an ambiguity sufficient to allow the courts to resort to legislative history. The court wrote, “By failing to specifically address the burden of proof in [CAFA], especially in light of discussing the issue in a Committee Report, Congress is deemed to have not intended to change the settled case law on that issue. Had Congress wished to change which party bears the burden of proof in a removal action under the CAFA, it would have explicitly done so.”
The court then addressed Pfizer’s argument that the filing of the plaintiff’s amended petition had “commenced” a new case for CAFA jurisdictional purposes, and rejected this argument as well, holding that the additional factual allegations and common law claims for relief could relate back to the original complaint under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 15 because they arose from the same conduct as the conduct set forth in the original pleading. Consequently, Judge Sipple remanded the case, finding that the amendment did not commence a new action in state court, and thus, CAFA, being inapplicable, did not provide the jurisdictional basis to support Pfizer’s removal.