Carlson v. Long Island Jewish Medical Center, No. CV 04-3086, 2005 WL 1631142 (E.D. N.Y. July 11, 2005).
In a decision issued on July 11, 2005, New York Federal District Judge Leonard D. Wexler confirmed that the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 does not apply retroactively to cases filed prior to CAFA’s February 18, 2005 enactment date. The plaintiffs, Sandra Carlson et al., filed their class action suit against multiple New York hospitals, asserting various claims under federal and state law to redress alleged unfair billing practices involving uninsured patients. The plaintiffs subsequently voluntarily dismissed all their claims, except those made under the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA). The court then requested the parties to brief the issue of whether the FDCPA claims should be dismissed, and to discuss the possible impact of CAFA on the case, since the plaintiffs argued that even if the FDCPA claims were dismissed, the case would just be refiled under CAFA’s amendments to Section 1332(d), the diversity statute. Judge Wexler ultimately concluded that the FDCPA claims should not be dismissed, and that the court had federal question jurisdiction over the case under that statute.
The court then held that because the FDCPA claim was not going to be dismissed, there was no need to resort to CAFA. The court noted that all parties had acknowledged that CAFA was not retroactive, and thus, could not provide an independent basis for the court to exercise federal jurisdiction in the pending case, had the court decided to dismiss the FDCPA claims. Judge Wexler addressed the CAFA component of the case in a single paragraph, noting that he declined to express an opinion as to the propriety of the exercise of diversity jurisdiction in any new lawsuit filed after the enactment of CAFA.