In a split decision, the Fourth Circuit recently held that a party joined as a counterclaim-defendant may not remove a case to federal court on the basis that the counterclaim satisfies the requirements of CAFA. In Palisades Collections LLC v. Shorts, a collection agency for AT&T brought a state court action for $794 in unpaid cell phone charges. The defendant answered and asserted a class counterclaim against the collection agency for alleged violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act. The defendant later amended the counterclaim to join AT&T as an additional counterclaim-defendant, and AT&T removed the case to federal court under CAFA. The district court remanded the case, concluding that the removal was improper because AT&T was not a “defendant” for purposes of removal under § 1441, and CAFA did not create independent removal authority that would allow AT&T to circumvent the long-standing requirement that only a true defendant may remove a case to federal court. The Fourth Circuit affirmed, noting that under the Supreme Court’s decision in Shamrock Oil and its progeny, the phrase “the defendant or the defendants” as used in § 1441(a) must be interpreted narrowly to refer to defendants as parties against whom the original plaintiff asserts claims. Because AT&T was not a defendant against whom the original plaintiff asserted claims, the court “easily conclude[d]” that AT&T was not a “defendant” capable of removing under § 1441(a). The court also held that even assuming CAFA provided removal power independent of that conferred in § 1441, there is no indication that it intended to alter the traditional rule that only original defendants may remove.