Case Details


Parens Patriae Case Brought By Attorney General Not Subject To CAFA

Filing State



U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit




State ex rel. McGraw v. CVS Pharmacy, Inc., 2011 U.S. App. LEXIS 10171 (4th Cir. 2011).


The court remanded the case to state court, finding that it was not removable under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA).

Case Description

The West Virginia Attorney General filed suit in state court alleging violations of state consumer protection laws. The state sued in its ”sovereign and quasi-sovereign capacity” and sought injunctive relief, restitution and disgorgement of overcharges, recovery on behalf of the consumers, civil penalties, interest, costs, and attorneys’ fees. The defendants removed the case to federal court under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), alleging that it was a “disguised class action.” The district court remanded the case to state court, and the Fourth Circuit affirmed. CAFA defines a class action as “any civil action filed under rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure or similar State statute or rule of judicial procedure authorizing an action to be brought by one or more representative persons as a class action.” The Fourth Circuit held that the West Virginia statute under which the Attorney General brought the action is not “similar” to Rule 23. The Attorney General is not a member of the class whose claim is typical of the class. Instead, the Attorney General is vindicating the “State’s sovereign and quasi-sovereign interests, as well as the individual interests of the State’s citizens.” The court also held, “[I]n representing the citizens, the State acts more in the capacity of trustee representing beneficiaries or a lawyer representing clients, neither of which is the type of representation essential to the representational aspect of a class action.”