The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed itself just months after its widely reviled opinion in Cappuccitti v. DirecTV. In a per curiam opinion issued October 15, 2010, a three judge panel concluded, on rehearing, that the earlier Cappuccitti decision was simply “incorrect.” The key holding means that a plaintiffs’ class under CAFA does not have to meet a threshold requirement of having at least one plaintiff with a claim of $75,000 or more.
“Subsequent reflection has led us to conclude that our interpretation was incorrect. Specifically, CAFA’s text does not require at least one plaintiff in a class action to meet the amount in controversy requirement of 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Accordingly, we construe both parties’ petitions for rehearing en banc to include petitions for panel rehearing, vacate our earlier opinion, and replace it with this one.” Cappuccitti v. DirecTV, — F.3d —, 2010 WL 4027719 (11th Cir. Oct. 15, 2010) (cites omitted).
This decision should quiet the near universal criticism that has been clanging through the echo chamber of the class action bar since the appellate court’s July 19 ruling. The July opinion focused on the jurisdictional thresholds of the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA). The summer Cappuccitti decision was controversial because it seemingly invented a new requirement for federal courts to exercise original jurisdiction over class actions filed under CAFA. The opinion set an unprecedented threshold that at least one plaintiff in a CAFA class action must allege an amount in controversy of at least $75,000. Critics of the ruling observed that such a requirement would effectively end the filing of CAFA class actions in the Eleventh Circuit. The CAFA law blog has extensively covered the potential impacts. But never mind, that’s all in the past. After the most recent ruling, the CAFA doors are now back open.