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CAFA Judicata: A Tale of Waste and Politics

By Kevin M. Clermont and Theodore Eisenberg


The Class Action Fairness Act has taken on its real form through construction by the federal judges. That form emerges in this empirical study of judicial activity and receptivity to the Act. Our data comprise the opinions under the Act published during the two and a half years following its enactment in 2005. CAFA has produced a lot of litigation in its short life. The cases were varied, of course, but most typically the resulting published federal opinion involved a removed contract case, with the dispute turning on the statute\u27s effective date or on federal jurisdiction. Even though the opinions shed some light on issues such as jurisdictional burden and standard of proof, most of the judicial activity was socially wasteful litigation. It emphasized transitional efforts to interpret the sloppily drafted provisions on effective date and on federal jurisdiction. More interesting, we saw wise but value-laden resistance by judges to CAFA, as they interpreted it in a way to dampen the early hopes of overly enthusiastic removers. Regression analysis confirms the suggestion of percentages of cases decided in favor of a narrow construction of the statute. With the exception of Republican male judges, the federal judiciary has not warmly embraced the statute

Topics: Class Action Fairness Act, CAFA, Class actions, Jurisprudence, Jurisprudence, Litigation
Publisher: Scholarship@Cornell Law: A Digital Repository
Year: 2008
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