Friday, August 18, 2006

W.D. Okla. Holds that Intervention of Plaintiffs Does Not Constitute Addition by Amendment under CAFA

Per Weber v. Mobil Oil Corp., Not Reported in F. Supp. 2d., 2006 WL 2045875 (W.D. Okla. July 20, 2006):

Resolution of plaintiffs' motion [to remand after defendants removed to federal court under CAFA] depends on when this action commenced as to the removing defendants because CAFA only applies "to any civil action commenced on or after [February 18, 2005]." 119 Stat. at 14. In Prime Care of Northeast Kansas, LLC v. Human Ins. Co., 447 F.3d 1284 (10th Cir.2006), the Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit addressed "whether CAFA permits the removal of a class action filed before the Act's effective date if the removing defendant was first added by amendment after the effective date." Id. at 1285. The answer, the Court held, depends on whether "the amendment relates back to the pre-CAFA pleading that is being amended." Id. at 1289. In response to the court's request for supplemental briefing discussing the impact of the Court's decision in Prime Care, MEPUS and MNGI [Defendants and Mobil Oil subsidiaries] argue CAFA applies because the Petition in Intervention constitutes a completely new case, asserting new claims against defendants the Mannering Plaintiffs had never before sued. This argument, however, elevates form over substance and ignores the reality of the case. MEPUS and MNGI concede this case commenced as to them at least as of December 21, 2004. They were thus not "first added by amendment" after CAFA's effective date. Furthermore, Judge Smith allowed the Mannering Plaintiffs to intervene [in the state court action] only if their intervention did not alter the claims asserted or the class definition. Thus, the Petition in Intervention, by court order, was merely a continuation of the action as it existed on December 21, 2004; it did not add any new defendants and therefore did not commence an action as to MEPUS and MNGI after the effective date of CAFA. CAFA therefore does not apply to this action.

[The Court granted the plaintiff’s motion to remand.]


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