Pritchett v. Office Depot, Inc., 404 F.3d 1232 (10th Cir. April 11, 2005) (Pritchett I)
In the first appellate decision to analyze the Class Action Fairness Act, the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals considered Office Depot’s appeal of the remand order issued by the Colorado federal district court, under CAFA’s specific provisions allowing appellate review of remand decisions, a departure from the pre-CAFA law.
The Tenth Circuit upheld the district court’s ruling, reiterating many of the same reasons previously cited by the lower court. The Court first noted that an action is usually considered to have been commenced when it is brought in state court; removal to federal court is not traditionally considered as the date of commencement of the suit. Second, courts apply a presumption against retroactivity unless there is a clear congressional intent to the contrary (any declaration of retroactivity was not only missing from but contrasted with actual Sponsors’ Statements.) Third, public policy considerations dictate that CAFA not be applied retroactively since that would disrupt the proceedings of many class actions pending in the state courts. The Tenth Circuit affirmed the district court’s ruling that CAFA’s expansion of federal jurisdiction over class actions does not apply to suits first filed in state courts prior to passage of the new law, and entered an order denying Office Depot’s petition for leave to appeal for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.
Editor’s Note: The Tenth Circuit issued a second Pritchett opinion on August 18, 2005, explaining the Court’s reasoning for the issuance of its March 18th order. The CAFA Law Blog will post a detailed summary of Pritchett II shortly.