Squanto v. Myles Standish, Governor William Bradford, et al, No. 1620 (Plymouth Rock Court of Small Claims)
In this first class action filed in the New World (not so new by Native American standards), Squanto, on behalf of himself and the other similarly situated members of theWampanoag tribe sued Myles Standish and Governor William Bradford for stealing their hunting grounds in the Plymouth region of Massachusetts.
The defendants tried to settle the case by giving the plaintiffs beads and trinkets. However, the plaintiffs had learned what had happened to their brethern in Manhattan, so they refused to settle. Also, the plaintiffs did not want to have to go through the process of notifying all of the State Attorney Generals about the settlement.
So, the defendants filed a motion to dismiss alleging that there was no CAFA jurisdiction. The defendants asserted that there was not more than 100 plaintiffs, the amount in controversy was less than $5 million, and there was not minimal diversity.
With regard to the number of plaintiffs, the court held that although the diseases brought by the defendants had killed a number of the plaintiffs, there was many more than 100 of them still surviving.
The defendants asserted that the value of the allegedly stolen land was worhtless becasue the defendants were unable to grow anything on the land. As proof they submitted the names of all of the defendants who died that first winter due to starvation. The court held that the just because the defendants were too stupid to know how to grow crops, that did not make the land worthless. The court held that the value of the hunting grounds was priceless.
The court was stumped regarding minimal diversity, however. Based upon the affidavits of the defendants, it was clear that they intended to stay in the Plymouth area. Thus, the court ruled that they and the plaintiffs were both citizens of Plymouth and there was no minimal diversity.
Since there was no minimal diversity, the court granted the defendants’ motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction. And, as history has shown us, the plaintiffs did not re-urge their action against the defendants. Instead, they opened a casinos across the country.
Seriously, the Editors of the CAFA Law Blog wish you a safe and happy Thanksgiving!