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Alexander Lemann, Note, Sheep in Wolves' Clothing: Removing Parens Patriae Suits Under the Class Action Fairness Act, 111 Colum. L. Rev. 121 (2011)

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111 Columbia Law Review 121 (2011)


This Note examines the applicability of the Class Action Fairness Act’s (CAFA) removal provisions to parens patriae suits. CAFA expanded federal diversity jurisdiction to include class actions with minimal diversity, doing away with a rule that had kept most class actions in state court. Although CAFA does not mention parens patriae suits, their inherent similarity to class actions raised the question of whether they too could now be removed to federal court. The Fifth Circuit, in Louisiana ex rel. Caldwell v. Allstate Insurance Co., has held that the real parties in interest — those whose injuries form the basis of parens patriae standing — may be treated as a class of individuals for purposes of removal under CAFA. This Note examines the language and goals of CAFA as well as the concept of parens patriae standing and argues that the Fifth Circuit’s approach should be abandoned. Allowing removal of parens patriae suits under CAFA works against the Act’s goals, is not supported by its language, and violates principles of federalism enshrined in the Eleventh Amendment.

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