Thursday, December 22, 2005

S.D. Iowa Rejects Removability of Pre-CAFA Action Based on Post-Enactment Addition of Claim

A federal judge in the Southern District of Iowa (Comes v. Microsoft Corp., --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2005 WL 3454427 (S.D. Iowa Nov. 22, 2005) has rejected Microsoft's argument that the addition of a new claim in an action post-CAFA's enactment date (Feb. 18, 2005) makes the case removable to federal court:

Microsoft asserts that federal jurisdiction is appropriate for two reasons: . . . (2) amendments in the Proposed Fourth Amended Complaint bring the case within the bounds of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005,

. . .

Plaintiffs filed their initial complaint in this case more than five years ago in February 2000. Microsoft argues that when plaintiffs filed the Proposed Fourth Amended Complaint a particular section raised a new claim. . . . Section 9 of the CAFA clearly states that the Act “shall apply to any civil action commenced on or after the date of enactment of this Act.” 109 P.L. 2 § 9. The Iowa rules of Civil Procedure provide that, “a civil action is commenced by filing a petition with the court.”Iowa Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 1.301(1).FN6 A “civil action” is distinguishable from a “claim” or a “cause of action” because it is the case in its entirety, including all pleading, motions, discovery and other elements of the proceeding. Weekley v. Guidant Corp., 392 F.Supp.2d 1066, 1067 (E.D.Ark.2005) (explaining instances where Congress has chosen to use terms such as “claim or cause of action” and “civil action” to distinguish between the whole proceeding and only a portion of the proceeding). Accordingly, “a civil action, viewed as the whole case, the whole proceeding, can only be commenced once.” Id. (citing Sneddon v. Hotwire Inc., 2005 WL 1593593 (N.D.Cal. June 29, 2005)). Thus, even when pleadings are amended, a new “civil action” is not commenced. Weekly, 392 F.Supp. at 1068.


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