Civil Procedure: Amending Away Federal Class Action Subject Matter Jurisdiction
A Connecticut lawyer and his firm were the plaintiffs in a class action in United States District Court against several title insurance companies, alleging that the title insurance companies’ use of so-called “national agents” to perform title agent functions was barred by a Connecticut statute stating that such work could only be performed by Connecticut attorneys. Verrill represented one of the title insurers. Federal jurisdiction was premised on the Class Action Fairness Act. After the class was certified and then de-certified without prejudice, the plaintiffs dropped their class action allegations in an amended complaint that premised federal subject matter jurisdiction solely on the former CAFA allegations. We developed an argument that the amendment to the complaint eliminated the sole basis for federal jurisdiction. The trial court dismissed the case and the United States Court of Appeal for the Second Circuit affirmed. Gale v. Chicago Title Ins. Co., 929 F.3d 74 (2d Cir. 2019).