Alsup v. 3-Day Blinds, No. 05-287-GPM, 2005 WL 2094745 (S.D. Ill. August 25, 2005).
The U. S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois has joined the crowd, holding that a case filed on February 17, 2005 was not subject to the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The plaintiffs asserted state law claims on behalf of a putative class consisting of purchasers of mini-blinds in this case filed in Madison County, Illinois state court, an infamous “judicial hellhole” according to the U. S. Chamber of Commerce, on the day on which CAFA was passed by the House and the day before President Bush signed the Act. The defendants removed the case to federal court on April 20th, citing bankruptcy jurisdiction and arguing diversity jurisdiction under CAFA. The plaintiffs filed their timely motion to remand on May 20th.
U. S. Chief District Judge G. Patrick Murphy initially found that the defendant, as the party invoking federal jurisdiction, had the burden to prove that the removal was proper “by competent evidence.” Chief Judge Murphy then found that there was no basis to remove the case under federal bankruptcy jurisdiction, utilizing a permissive abstention analysis in which he determined that the bankruptcy issues did not predominate over the state law issues.
Addressing the CAFA removal grounds, the court held that since the case was filed on February 17, 2005, CAFA was inapplicable as it only applied to cases “commenced” on or after February 18th. In that regard, the court cited and quoted with approval two Seventh Circuit decisions in Knudsen v. Liberty Mutual Ins. Co., 411 F.3d 805 (7th Cir. 2005) (see CAFA Law Blog summary posted on September 3, 2005) and Schorsch v. Hewlett-Packard Company, 415 F.3d 748 (7th Cir. 2005) (see CAFA Law Blog summary posted on September 4, 2005). The court accordingly granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand.
Interestingly, the court also noted that the removal would have failed anyway, since the removing defendant had not properly identified the residence of each plaintiff, and that allegations of residence made “on information and belief” were insufficient to invoke federal jurisdiction. The court also found that the plaintiffs were entitled to recover their attorney’s fees and costs incurred in pursuing their remand motion, and instructed the plaintiffs to file their affidavit setting out their fees and costs by a date certain.