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Morgan v. Gay

October 16, 2006

SARAH MORGAN, ON BEHALF OF HERSELF AND ALL OTHERS SIMILARLY SITUATED
v.
DENNIS W. GAY; GINA GAY; BASIC RESEARCH, L.L.C.; BAN, L.L.C.; KLEIN-BECKER, USA L.L.C.; COVAXIL LABORATORIES, L.L.C.; CARTER-REED COMPANY, L.L.C., A/K/A THE CARTER-REED COMPANY; A.G. WATERHOUSE, L.L.C.; ALPHAGENBO TECH, L.L.C.; BODY FORUM, L.L.C.; BODY INNOVENTIONS, L.L.C.; COVARIX, L.L.C.; BYDEX MANAGEMENT, L.L.C.; NUTRASPORT, L.L.C; SOVAGE DERMALOGIC LABORATORIES, L.L.C.; WESTERN HOLDING, L.L.C.; GEORGE EVAN BYBEE; DANIEL B. MOWREY, PH.D; NATHALIE CHEVREAU, PH.D; MITCHELL K. FRIEDLANDER; MICAHEL MEADE, PETITIONERS



On Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey District Court No.-06-cv-01371 District Judge: The Honorable Garrett E. Brown, Jr.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Smith, Circuit Judge.

PRECEDENTIAL

Submitted September 7, 2006

Before: BARRY, SMITH, and NYGAARD, Circuit Judges

OPINION

I.

This appeal raises what is an issue of first impression in this Circuit: whether a statutory provision from the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), Pub.L. No. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4 (2005) (codified in scattered sections of 28 U.S.C.), will be read according to the uncontested intent of Congress rather than as it is literally (but mistakenly) written.

The underlying action was filed by New Jersey purchasers of the skin cream Stri Vectin-SD in the Superior Court of New Jersey, alleging false advertising and other claims. In March 2006, Defendants removed the action to federal court. Plaintiffs sought remand back to Superior Court and, in an order entered August 7, 2006, the District Court granted the motion for remand to the state court, concluding that it lacked removal jurisdiction. On August 16, 2006, seven days later (excluding weekends and holidays*fn1 ), Defendants filed the instant petition for leave to appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c). This provision of CAFA states that a court of appeals "may accept an appeal from an order of a district court granting or denying a motion to remand a class action to the State court from which it was removed if application is made to the court of appeals not less than 7 days after entry of the order." 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1) (emphasis added).

II.

Section 1453(c)(1), by using the phrase "may accept an appeal," provides this Court discretion as to whether we should grant the petition. We therefore exercise jurisdiction pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1453. One of the key factors we examine to determine whether to grant the request is the seven day timing requirement. Because this issue involves a question of statutory interpretation, our review is plenary. See E.I. DuPont De Nemours and Co. v. United States, 460 F.3d 515, 528 (3d Cir. 2006).

III.

The issue that we now address is whether 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1), which states that a federal appellate court "may accept an appeal" from a remand order "if application is made to the court of appeals not less than 7 days after entry of the order," should be interpreted by this Court to mean "not more than 7 days after entry of the order." Because the uncontested legislative intent behind § 1453(c) was to impose a seven-day deadline for appeals, we conclude that the statute as written contains a typographical error and should be read to mean "not more than 7 days."

A court's primary purpose in statutory interpretation is to discern legislative intent. See Rosenberg v. XM Ventures, 274 F.3d 137, 141 (3d Cir. 2001) ("The role of the courts in interpreting a statute is to give effect to Congress's intent."). "The plain meaning of legislation should be conclusive, except in [] rare cases in which the literal application of a statute will produce a result demonstrably at odds with the intentions of its drafters. In such cases, the intention of the drafters, rather than the strict language, controls." United States v. Ron Pair Enters., Inc., 489 U.S. 235, 242 (1989) (citation and quotation omitted). At some point in the legislative process, legislative intent for a particular statute exists. As a point of fact, there can be multiple legislative intents because hundreds of men and women must vote in favor of a bill in order for it to become a law. See Caleb Nelson, What is Textualism?, 91 VA. L. REV. 347, 370 (2005) (stating the textualist position that "the typical statute enacted by Congress does not authoritatively reflect any collective intent on policy goals that transcend its own terms").For the vast majority of ambiguous statutory provisions, then, relying on legislative history to discern legislative intent should be done with caution, if at all. This principle becomes even stronger when the judiciary seeks to read an unambiguous statutory term as its own antonym. See United States v. One "Piper"' Aztec "F" De Luxe Model 250 PA 23 Aircraft Bearing Serial No. 27-7654057, 321 F.3d 355, 359 (3d Cir. 2003) (stating that "[o]ur task is to give effect to the will of Congress, and where its will has been expressed in reasonably plain terms, that language must ordinarily be regarded as conclusive") (quoting Negonsott v. Samuels, 507 U.S. 99, 104 (1993)). However, in that rare instance where it is uncontested that legislative intent is at odds with the literal terms of the statute, then a court's primary role is to effectuate the intent of Congress even if a word in the statute instructs otherwise.

Section 1453(c)(1) is one such rare instance. The only piece of legislative history to discuss this ...


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