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The Plaintiff Files His Complaint, Adds Donald Duck as a Party … yadda, yadda, yadda … and CAFA Prevails … You’ve Come a Long Way Baby!

Posted in Case Summaries

Springman v. AIG Marketing, Inc., et al., No. 08-1019, Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals, April 15, 2008.

The hot neon blinked outside and the buzz from the light could be heard at the counter. It had been one of those days for the Big Tall Army Guy and the last thing he wanted to hear or talk about was CAFA. But Juan Billborn would have none of it! Juan ambled up to the diner, reached for the nearest ash tray, cocked a crooked glance at BTAG, took a long slow drag from his Virginia Slim, and opened a dialogue with the normally stoic BTAG.

JB: BTAG

BTAG: Billborn

JB: You, ehh, look like you’ve got a case of the Mondays.

BTAG rolls his eyes toward JB and gives a look of abject disgust.

JB, oblivious to BTAG’s signal that he does not want to engage in this dialogue takes another long drag from his coveted Virginia Slim, pops it out of his mouth, holds it before his face, and admires the Slim.

JB: Yes indeed! You have come a long, long way baby. So what is it that has you down TAG?

BTAG: CAFA. All these cases I have to read; all of these analysts who won’t give me their comments; all of this … this … law stuff, cramping my rigid, pulsing, enormous…brain. I just need to unload some of this info.

JB: Perversely inhaling yet another Virginia Slim drag. Lay it on me, my man.

BTAG: Ohh, you know these cases Billborn. We all know these … these … cases. Like this Springman case before Judge Posner. Pretty standard CAFA stuff, you know. Plaintiff sues AIG Claim Services (AIGC) and an Illinois company, pre-CAFA. No complete diversity so the case is brought in state court. Plaintiff learns AIGC is the wrong company, waits four years to amend to add the right company … Yadda Yadda Yadda … Donald Duck is removed from the pleadings … Yadda Yadda Yadda … and the case is removed under CAFA.

JB: Donald Duck? AIG? What, did his feathers get ruffled when Daisy took him on Space Mountain one too many times?

JB smiles, wryly and takes yet another now disturbingly long drag from his Virginia Slim!

JB: No! No! I have it, he made a pass at Minnie while on the Peter Pan ride, got jacked by Mickey, and fell out of the flying boat when he grabbed onto one of those big buttons on the front of Mickey’s shorts and the thread snapped?

JB again smiles in a Cheshire Cat-like manner, and takes what seems like the one-hundredth drag from his seemingly unending Virginia Slim.

JB: No! Stop! Stop! Stop! This is too good!

BTAG: – Check please –

JB: Seriously! Donald was injured when he was attacked by Chip and Dale when the two of them woke up to find Donald playing with their nuts.

BTAG: – really no, check … check … someone, sweet Mother of God someone get my check –

JB, flummoxed in hysterics, comes to an abrupt halt when his precious Virginia Slim slides slowly from between his fingers and falls helplessly to the floor. JB rolls into the fetal position, begins to rock back and forth rapidly, and starts crying.

BTAG, stops, witnesses the “tragic” event, smiles, and continues. Seizing on the opportunity to unburden himself of this information, what with a “captive” audience (a rarity with BTAG), BTAG fills in the elusive Yaddas …

BTAG: You know, seeing all of that almost makes it worthwhile to finish the story. 

BTAG reaches across the diner, pulls out his own Virginia Slim, lights the end ever so gently, takes a drag, throws on his crimson crushed velvet smoking jacket, and begins to tell his tale.

You have indeed come a long way baby! 

JB whimpers in agony, still staring at the now extinguished Slim. 

The Donald Duck reference was the Court making an example, that’s all. Essentially, in Springman, the Court noted that the plaintiff filed suit pre-CAFA, learned that the proper party was AIG Marketing (AIGM), and waited four years to move to substitute AIGC with AIGM. The substitution did not occur until after CAFA was enacted. As you know, CAFA provided that its minimal diversity removal provisions only applied to cases commenced after it was enacted. AIGM sought removal via CAFA, arguing that the case was not “commenced” as to them until after CAFA was passed. The Court noted that the question was whether the substituion of AIGM related back to the pre-CAFA filing. The Court held that the failure to act diligently, waiting more than three years after learning of AIGM’s identity, was reason to not apply the relation back doctrine.