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More than a decade after Congress passed the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 (CAFA), courts continue to disagree as to its application and meaning in a variety of situations, many of which have wide-ranging effects. This article considers a fundamental issue that arises after a certification decision is reached: whether a court’s subject matter jurisdiction under CAFA depends on a class being certified. Specifically, the article considers what happens when a federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction derives solely from CAFA’s minimal diversity jurisdiction provision and a request for class certification under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 23 (Rule 23) is denied. The statute’s ambiguity on this point has resulted in numerous inefficiencies and opportunities to manipulate jurisdiction.

Part I of the article discusses the relevant policies underlying CAFA and Rule 23. Part II briefly outlines the more straightforward operation of CAFA jurisdiction in pre-certification and postsuccessful certification situations before explaining the provisions in CAFA that have given rise to considerable confusion after courts deny class certification. Part III critiques the arguments made by courts and scholars in support of and against continuing jurisdiction. It then suggests an approach that is most consistent with the statute, in light of all of its relevant provisions and their corresponding limitations, and that furthers prudential concerns underlying Rule 23 and CAFA as much as possible given the way the statute was drafted.