The issue in this case is whether the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) permits class claims to be removed from state to federal court when the claims are filed as a counterclaim by the state-court defendant. The case arose when George Jackson, who was sued by Citibank in a North Carolina state court to collect a debt allegedly owed for the purchase of a home water-treatment system. Jackson filed a class counterclaim against Citibank as well as Home Depot and another company, which together had marketed, sold, and installed the system. Citibank tried to remove the case to federal court under CAFA. The district court remanded to state court and the Fourth Circuit affirmed, based on precedents indicating that a party named in a counterclaim is not a “defendant” that is entitled to remove the case under CAFA.
Although the circuits that have addressed the issue have unanimously held that removal is not available in these circumstances, Home Depot filed a petition for certiorari. Public Citizen Litigation Group, as co-counsel for Jackson in the Supreme Court, prepared the brief in opposition explaining why the case does not merit Supreme Court review. The Court granted the petition and then, ruling for the plaintiff, affirmed the lower court’s decision.