Friday's Daily Journal had this article (subscription) on the Class Action Fairness Act two years after it was enacted. Among other things, the article discusses the split in authority among federal courts over who bears the burden of proving that the "home state" and "local controversy" exceptions to CAFA removal jurisdiction are present:
The Class Action Fairness Act has created confusion over who has the burden of proof to show why a case filed in state court should or should not be moved to federal court.
Three federal circuits - the New Orleans-based 5th Circuit, the Chicago-based 7th Circuit and the Atlanta-based 11th Circuit - have ruled that the burden falls on plaintiffs. But Los Angeles U.S. District Judge Stephen G. Larson, who has been on the bench less than a year, took a contrary view in an October ruling that quickly became the buzz of the class-action bar.
The New York-based 2nd Circuit has agreed with Larson's reasoning, leading some lawyers to say that the Supreme Court will be forced to resolve the conflict among courts.
"It's the first question in CAFA that's leading to a circuit split and important enough for Supreme Court review," Cabraser said.
Larson did not mince words in criticizing how the law was drafted.
"[It is] a statute in which some major terms are left undefined, certain of the provisions of which have been aptly described as 'bewildering' or 'clumsily crafted' and whose legislative history is ... of questionable interpretive value," he wrote in Lao v. Wickes Furniture Company, 06-448 (C.D. Cal.).
The plaintiffs, former and current sales representatives at Wickes Furniture Company Inc. showrooms, filed suit in San Bernardino County Superior Court in April, citing employment-law violations. The defendants sought to remove the case to federal court, but Larson declined their request, ruling that they had failed to prove that the Class Action Fairness Act applied because a majority of the plaintiffs and the primary defendant are from California.
An appeal to the 9th Circuit is in progress. Lawyers on both sides declined comment.
The full cite for Judge Larson's ruling, in which he found that CAFA's "home state" and "local controversy" exceptions are not "exceptions" at all but rather "integral component[s] of the removal provisions themselves," is Lao v. Wickes Furniture Co., Inc., 455 F.Supp.2d 1045 (C.D. Cal. 2006) (slip op. at 20) (link via CAFA Law Blog). Consumer Law & Policy Blog had a lengthy discussion of the decision in October.