Buy One, Get One Free: Appellate Court Strikes Deal to Permit Defendant’s Second Attempt at Removing Class Action Beyond Initial Thirty-Day Removal Window

By Ryan M. Tosi

Addressing an issue of first impression, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Graiser v. Visionworks of America, Inc., recently upheld a defendant’s second attempt at removing a class action to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), long after the thirty-day removal deadline applicable to traditional diversity jurisdiction expired. The Grasier decision confirms that the defendant does not have a duty to perform any significant investigation of facts relevant to federal jurisdiction independent of the information received from the plaintiff, and that the thirty-day removal period set forth in 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b) applies only after the plaintiff’s pleadings or documents provide the defendant with a clear statement of the damages sought or with sufficient facts from which damages can be readily calculated. As such, a defendant may remove a case under CAFA even if the initial thirty-day removal window has closed where that defendant later receives a document from the plaintiff from which it could be first ascertained that the case was removable under CAFA, thereby providing the defendant with “a new window for removability.”

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