Monthly Archives: January 2014

Can One ‘Representative’ Plaintiff Be A Class under CAFA? Supreme Court Says “No”

View David Wright's Complete Bio at RBH.comIn Mississippi ex rel. Hood v. AU Optronics Corp., 134 S. Ct. 736 (Jan. 14, 2014), the United States Supreme Court held that one plaintiff does not a “mass action” make under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). CAFA defines a “mass action” as a claim brought by more than 100 people, and the Court sided with the State of Mississippi, which had sued in Mississippi state court firms that sold LCD panels, alleging price fixing. The defendants preferred a federal forum in which to oppose the Mississippi Attorney General’s claims and removed the case to federal court, alleging that the case constituted a “mass action” under CAFA because the State of Mississippi was asserting the claims on behalf of well over 100 of its citizens. CAFA allows removal if the case is a class action, i.e., an action brought under Federal Rule 23 or its state analogue, or a “mass action,” in which over 100 plaintiffs are seeking joint relief. The statutory question was straightforward: does the 100-plaintiff threshold apply to actual named parties, or does it also include unnamed parties in interest? The Supreme Court – unlike the district court and the Fifth Circuit – had no trouble with the issue, unanimously ruling that the State of Mississippi was just one plaintiff, no matter how many of its citizens might recover from the claims it brought. Justice Sotomayor said Congress knew how to use the words “real party in interest,” and that it would become an administrative nightmare for district courts to identify which of the “hundreds of thousands” of unnamed parties might have claims meeting CAFA’s claim threshold of $75,000.

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