As I’ve written before, it’s rare for something to qualify as breaking news in the world of class action practice. This, however, qualifies. This afternoon, the three-judge panel that had ruled that the Class Action Fairness Act requires at least one class member to have suffered $75,000 in damages–thus turning itself into an outlying circuit on the question of class-action jurisdiction–reversed itself in a per curiam opinion:
On July 19, 2010, we issued an opinion in this case. Cappuccitti v. DirecTV, Inc., No. 09-14107, slip op. (11th Cir. July 19, 2010). We based our decision on our interpretation of the jurisdictional requirements of the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (“CAFA”), Pub. L. No. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4 (codified in scattered sections of 28 U.S.C.), which we have elsewhere called a “statutory labyrinth.” Lowery v. Ala. Power Co., 483 F.3d 1184, 1199 (11th Cir. 2007). 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,1 vacate our earlier opinion, and replace it with this one.
(Emphasis added.) The court then proceeded to address the arbitration provision that had actually been before it in the original case, finding that DirecTV’s arbitration provision was not unconscionable.
The court erred. As Cappuccitti readily conceded in opposing DirecTV’s motion to compel arbitration, attorney’s fees and litigation expenses would be available to him if he prevailed on the theory that the early cancellation fee is invalid as “[u]nfair or deceptive” under O.C.G.A. § 10-1-393(a). The JAMS Rules provide for the award of attorney’s fees and litigation expenses if allowed by state law, and O.C.G.A. § 10-1-399(d) authorizes them.
In light of this, it is apparent that the district court’s order denying arbitration must be vacated and the case remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
With this ruling, the Eleventh Circuit has brought itself back into line with other federal courts on the question of which class actions qualify for federal jurisdiction under CAFA.
We now return you to your (hopefully) class-action-free weekend.