Commentary and analysis of the Supreme Court’s actions in Syngenta Crop Protection Inc. v. Henson (S. Ct. 2002), summarily decided three weeks after oral argument in the Supreme Court. The Syngenta appeal presented the Court with the important issue relating to removal of a state-based class action pursuant to the All Writs Act and the federal courts ability to protect nationwide class action settlements. The issue was whether the All Writs Act, 28 U.S.C. § 1651, acts to caulk gaps in federal jurisdiction so as to permit removal of a state case to federal court to protect the integrity of a previously approved federal class action settlement. Alternatively, the Syngenta litigants asked the Court whether a doctrine of ancillary protective jurisdiction allows removal of a state case for the same purpose. The Court decided that the All Writs Act does not, alone or in combination with ancillary jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1367, furnish removal jurisdiction. Simply, the All Writs Act is not a substitute for § 1441’s requirement that federal courts have original jurisdiction over an action in order for it to be removed to federal court. The Court’s decision has arguably made it more difficult for federal class action supports to seek federal protection of approved class action settlements that subsequently are endangered by rear-guard state class actions. The article also discusses conflicting circuit court cases and authority dealing with the issue whether the All Writs Act provides an independent basis for federal subject matter jurisdiction supporting removal.
Linda S. Mullenix, Complex Litigation: Class Actions II, National Law Journal, Jan. 13, 2003, at B7.