Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Amendment to Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) takes effect today

The original version of the 2005 Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) authorized immediate appeals from certain jurisdictional decisions by district courts, provided that litigants appeal "not less than 7 days after entry of the order." 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1). Although the goal of this provision was to set a 7-day deadline, the enacted text did precisely the opposite -- it imposed a 7-day waiting period and set no outer deadline. A circuit split ensued over how to interpret this problematic language. Compare Spivey v. Vertrue, 528 F.3d 982 (7th Cir. 2008), with Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1309 v. Laidlaw Transit Servs., Inc., 435 F.3d 1140 (9th Cir. 2006).

Effective today, Congress has fixed the problem -- unambiguously establishing a 10-day deadline for CAFA appeals. See Public Law 111-16, § 6(2) (“effective Dec. 1, 2009, subsec. (c)(1) is amended by striking ‘not less than 7 days’ and inserting ‘not more than 10 days’”).

For further discussion of this legislation and the interpretive puzzle that led to it, see my post on Concurring Opinions.



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