Friday, October 21, 2005

First Circuit Holds that "Commenced" in CAFA Means Date of Filing, Not Removal

The First Circuit has added its voice to the growing chorus of courts holding that the term "commenced" in the Class Action Fairness Act means the time the case was originally filed in state court rather than the date on which the case was removed to federal court. In Natale v. Pfizer, Inc., 424 F.3d 43 (1st Cir. Sep. 16, 2005) the court, via a brief per curiam opinion, the court wrote:

Pfizer contends that the actions were commenced on the date they were removed. The two circuits to have addressed the issue have rejected this contention, having held that "commenced" means "filed" rather than "removed." Knudsen v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 411 F.3d 805, 806 (7th Cir.2005), following Pritchett v. Office Depot, Inc., 420 F.3d 1090 (10th Cir.2005), amending and superceding 404 F.3d 1232 (10th Cir.2005). Pfizer argues that these actions are different in that removal occurred within the statutory thirty-day period from service of the complaint, rather than after the action had been pending for some years. But that argument runs squarely into the statutory provision that the Act is to apply only to actions commenced on or after the date of enactment. We agree with the Seventh Circuit's decision in Pfizer, Inc. v. Lott, 417 F.3d 725 (7th Cir.2005), rejecting this argument. To accept it would have us rewrite the statute by carving out a class of late-filed actions.


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