Cutrone v. Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, Inc., No. 14-455 (2d Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs filed a putative class action against MERS in state court asserting claims related to MERS's facilitation of the provision of "Esign" mortgages to consumer-borrowers. MERS appealed the district court's grant of a motion to remand to New York state court on the ground that MERS's notice of removal was untimely. The court reversed and held that, in Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA) cases, the 30-day removal periods of 28 U.S.C. 1446(b)(1) and (b)(3) are not triggered until the plaintiff serves the defendant with an initial pleading or other paper that explicitly specifies the amount of monetary damages sought or sets forth facts from which an amount in controversy in excess of $5,000,000 can be ascertained. The court also held that where a plaintiff's papers failed to trigger the removal clocks of sections 1446(b)(1) and (b)(3), a defendant may remove a case when, upon its own independent investigation, it determines that the case is removable. Therefore, the 30-day removal periods of sections 1446(b)(1) and (b)(3) are not the exclusive authorizations for removal in CAFA cases. In this instance, plaintiffs never served MERS with a complaint or subsequent document explicitly stating the amount in controversy or providing MERS with sufficient information to conclude the threshold amount in controversy was satisfied. Therefore, the removal clocks of section 1446(b)(1) and (b)(3) did not commence. After MERS determined upon its independent investigation that section 1332(d) conveyed CAFA federal jurisdiction because the amount in controversy, number of plaintiffs, and minimal diversity requirements were satisfied, it properly removed the case by alleging facts adequate to establish the amount in controversy in its notice of removal. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded.