October 18, 2017 feature

Court Blocks Amended Class Designation Aimed at Forcing Remand

Plaintiffs cannot amend post-removal to frustrate diversity jurisdiction

By Carl A. Aveni

Even if Congress prefers that class action suits proceed in federal court, the plaintiffs’ bar often feels otherwise.

Plaintiffs sometimes fight for remand to state court after a defendant removes a class action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA). In this fray, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit stood alone in allowing plaintiffs to broadly amend their complaints post-removal to avoid federal diversity and return class actions to the state courts where they were first filed. But no longer.

Without expressly reversing its prior decisions, the Ninth Circuit has now joined other circuits in holding that once a class action has been removed to federal court, plaintiffs are no longer free to amend the complaint to redefine class membership and defeat diversity jurisdiction.

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