In a July 2010 GT Alert, we reported on a decision, Cappuccitti v. DirecTV, Inc., 611 F.3d 1252 (11th Cir. 2010), that required at least one member of a proposed class in a case originally filed in federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA) to meet the $75,000 jurisdictional requirement as to its claim individually. The decision could have significantly reduced CAFA’s impact in courts within the Eleventh Circuit, and at the time, we observed that it was a good candidate for en banc review, a petition for certiorari, or even legislative clarification of the CAFA statute. (Our July GT Alert is available here.)

On October 15, 2010, after both sides had filed petitions for en banc rehearing, the original Eleventh Circuit panel, construing those petitions to include petitions for panel rehearing, vacated its earlier opinion. The panel stated that CAFA is a “statutory labyrinth” and that “[s]ubsequent reflection has led us to conclude that our interpretation was incorrect.” Cappuccitti v. DirecTV, Inc., No. 09-14107, ___ F.3d ___, 2010 WL 4027719 (11th Cir. Oct. 15, 2010). In short, the court held that although the aggregate amount in controversy (i.e., the amount sought on behalf of the putative class as a whole) under CAFA must exceed $5,000,000, there “is no requirement in a class action brought originally or on removal under CAFA that any individual plaintiff’s claim exceed $75,000.”

The new Cappuccitti opinion, which has been designated for publication, is available at: http://www.ca11.uscourts.gov/opinions/ops/200914107op2.pdf.

The reversal of the earlier Cappuccitti ruling brings the Eleventh Circuit’s interpretation back into the legal mainstream in terms of the availability of removal to federal court under CAFA, and avoids a potential resurgence of class action litigation in the state courts of Alabama, Florida and Georgia.