Moll v. Hasbro, Inc., 2007 WL 2229001 (S.D. Ill. August 2, 2007)
Yes, we know the headline is pretty Parchessi. Hasbro has to play this game in Illinois State Court. The Southern District of Illinois takes a look at a case surrounding Hasbro’s Electronic Catch Phrase Game.
Can’t remember which on of those games that is hidden away in your mom’s attic? Check out this link to Hasbro’s site.
This Memorandum and Order from the Southern District of Illinois addresses the “commencement” issue under CAFA. The Illinois class action was based on Hasbro’s conduct related to its advertising, selling, and distribution of its Electronic Catch Phrase game. The complaint alleged defects in the game along with Hasbro’s failure to disclose those defects. The original complaint alleged Illinois state law causes of action and defined the proposed class as “all persons in the United States who purchased Hasbro Inc.’s Electronic Catch Phrase game. Excluded from the class are members of the Illinois judiciary, any jurors who are called upon to hear this matter, plaintiffs’ counsel and the officers, directors and employees of the Defendant.”
On March 28, 2007, the plaintiffs filed their Second Amended Complaint in Illinois state court and defined the proposed class as “all persons in the United States who, after March 2003, purchased the first edition of Hasbro Inc.’s Catch Phrase game. Excluded from the class are persons who only purchased Defendant’s Electronic Catch Phrase (Second Edition), members of the Illinois judiciary, any jurors who are called upon to hear this matter, plaintiffs’ counsel and the officers, directors and employees of the Defendant.”
On April 13, 2007, the defendant, Hasbro, Inc., removed this case to federal court from St. Claire County, Illinois Circuit Court pursuant to the provisions of CAFA. Hasbro’s removal was based on the Second Amended Complaint beginning a new cause of action. Hasbro asserted that this new cause of action was after CAFA’s enactment date and thus removable under CAFA. The plaintiffs’ moved to remand the case back to Illinois state court, and Hasbro argued that the Second Amended Complaint asserted new claims based on the law of Rhode Island and added new parties which commenced a new, removable cause of action.
The Court began its opinion by stating that the defendant has the burden of establishing that an action is removable by citing Brill v. Countrywide Home Loans (Editors’ Note: See the CAFA Law Blog analysis of Brill posted on November 2, 2005, and you avid readers know our position on who bears the burden of proof, but if you have forgotten or if you are new, see our law review article on the subject.)
Next, the Court pointed out that CAFA is not retroactive and only applies to class actions commenced on or after the date of enactment which is February 18, 2005. For CAFA purposes, a case commences “when the plaintiff’s Complaint is filed in state court, not when it is removed to federal court. The specific issue before the court was whether the Second Amended Complaint related back to the original Complaint or whether it commenced ‘a new action to trigger the provisions of CAFA.’”
An amended complaint begins a new action only if, under the procedural law of the state in which the suit was filed, it does not relate back to the original complaint. Under Illinois law, as under federal law, an amendment “relates back” when it arises out of the same transaction or occurrence set up in the original pleading.
The court examined Illinois law and held that under the case of Phillips v. Ford Motor Company., 435 F3d 785, 787 (7th Cir. 2006), the plaintiffs amendment of the named plaintiffs/class representatives and withdrawing causes of action does not constitute “commencement” of a new action for purposes of triggering CAFA removal. Therefore, the court remanded the case to Illinois state court for lack of federal jurisdiction.