Anybody who follows this blog at all closely knows that we hate cross-jurisdictional class action tolling. It’s the subject of one of our more obscure scorecards. Sorry, but we don’t find any merit in a doctrine that rewards the mere filing of meritless litigation - we see too much of it already. Fortunately, most courts haven't adopted it either.
That’s why the otherwise far afield FDIC v. Countrywide Financial Corp., 2012 WL 5900973 (C.D.Cal. Nov. 21, 2012), caught our eye. Not only did the court reject cross-jurisdictional class action tolling (as does California, seeJolly v. Eli Lilly & Co., 751 P.2d 923, 936-37 (Cal. 1988)), but it did so despite the plaintiff having filed a federal statutory action that would ordinarily be subject to American Pipe class action tolling. The earlier class action, however, was cross-jurisdictional, having been filed in state court:
American Pipe tolling cannot apply to a class action filed in state court, even if the claims in the state class action are federal. The complaint in [the earlier case] expressly did not seek to meet the requirements of Rule 23. The class action could continue if it complied with California procedural rules. . . . A rule restricting American Pipetolling effect to class actions filed in federal court is also more consistent with the practices of the states themselves. Very few states toll the claims of individuals based on a class action filed in another jurisdiction (called “cross-jurisdictional tolling”). The reasoning of those courts that reject cross-jurisdictional tolling is equally applicable to the situation here.
2012 WL 5900973, at *13-14 (citations omitted).
So there you have it. Judicial rejection of cross-jurisdictional class action tolling works both ways. Not only do federal class actions not toll the statute of limitations in subsequent actions filed in state court, but state class actions don’t toll federal statute of limitations, even as to a claim that, had both actions been in federal court, would have benefited from the ill-considered American Pipe rule.