Tuesday, May 16, 2006

S.D. W.Va. Retains Traditional Removal Burden in CAFA Cases

Per Adams v. Insurance Corp. of America, --- F.Supp.2d ----, 2006 WL 897945 (S.D. W.Va. March 30, 2006):

Initially, the parties dispute whether CAFA requires plaintiffs to demonstrate the necessity of remand or, instead, whether defendants are charged with proving up the propriety of removal. The analysis begins with recognition of the long-settled proposition, espoused repeatedly by our court of appeals, that the proponent of federal jurisdiction bears the burden of demonstrating the legitimacy of its exercise. (Citation omitted). Defendants contend that CAFA altered this longstanding rule. They cite not CAFA itself, but instead rely primarily upon language found in Senate Report 109-14 [at 43]…

Surprisingly, the lower courts are split on whether this committee report altered the burden of demonstrating the propriety of exercising subject matter jurisdiction. The only superior tribunal to date that has squarely addressed the question is the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. Judge Easterbrook…offers a compelling analysis as to why the burden has not shifted:

[Defendant] maintains that the Class Action Fairness Act reassigns th[e] burden to the proponent of remand. It does not rely on any of the Act's language, for none is even arguably relevant. Instead it points to this language in the report of the Senate Judiciary Committee: “If a purported class action is removed pursuant to these jurisdictional provisions, the named plaintiff(s) should bear the burden of demonstrating that the removal was improvident (i.e., that the applicable jurisdictional provisions are not satisfied).”S. Rep. 14, 109th Cong. 1st Sess. 42 (2005). This passage does not concern any text in the bill that eventually became law. When a law sensibly could be read in multiple ways, legislative history may help a court understand which of these received the political branches' imprimatur. But when the legislative history stands by itself, as a naked expression of “intent” unconnected to any enacted text, it has no more force than an opinion poll of legislators-less, really, as it speaks for fewer.
Brill v. Countrywide Home Loans, Inc., 427 F.3d 446, 448 (7th Cir.2005).

The court adopts the Brill holding and analysis in its entirety. At a minimum, the holding is certainly consistent with how one would expect our court of appeals to resolve the issue. See Rosmer v. Pfizer Inc., 263 F.3d 110, 117 (4th Cir.2001) (“It is ‘the statute, and not the Committee Report, which is the authoritative expression of the law.’ ”) (quoting City of Chicago v. Envtl. Def. Fund, 511 U.S. 328, 337, 114 S.Ct. 1588, 128 L.Ed.2d 302 (1994)). Congress was no doubt aware of the time-honored principle that the proponent of federal jurisdiction bears the attendant obligation of proving its necessary prerequisites. If a different result was intended with the passage of CAFA, one would expect that landmark piece of legislation to have provided at least some textual indication it was altering what can only be described as a bedrock principle of federal jurisdiction. Absent such an explicit indicator, the burden remains with defendants to demonstrate the propriety of removal under CAFA.


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