Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Timing of Proper Removal of State Court Action to Federal Court Reviewed

In the case of Bracken v. Dolgencorp, LLC, No. 18-4703 (E.D. Pa. Nov. 289, 2018 Carney, J.) (Mem. Op.), the court addressed whether a Defendant’s removal of a case to federal court was untimely.  

According to the Opinion, a Philadelphia tractor trailer driver sued a company from outside of Pennsylvania in a Philadelphia state court in a personal injury action that arose out of injuries suffered when a trailer lift gait malfunctioned.   

The court noted that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure allow Defendants in state court actions to remove a case to federal court where more than $75,000.00 is at issue between diverse parties.  However, the Notice of Removal is required to be filed within thirty (30) days of when a Defendant can reasonably and intelligently conclude that the case involves a value that is than $75,000.00 federal court jurisdictional limit.  

The court in this matter otherwise indicated that the Rules do not allow parties to sit on their rights and remove a state court case to federal court long after knowing that the case is within the federal court’s subject matter jurisdiction. 

In this case, the Defendant filed a Notice of Removal more than thirty (30) days after the service of the Complaint upon that Defendant.  

The court noted that the Complaint in this matter permitted the Defendants to reasonably and intelligently conclude that the Plaintiffs had suffered damages potentially in excess of $75,000.00 based on allegations of permanent spinal and nervous system injuries, ongoing medical care, lost wages, and lost earning capacity.   The court found that the Defendant was aware of these allegations by virtue of the Complaint even though the dollar amount of the alleged damages was not identified until more recently.

After a review of the case before it, the court in this Bracken case remanded the matter to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas given that the Complaint did indeed allow the Defendants to reasonably and intelligently conclude that the Plaintiff had suffered damages potentially in excess of $75,000.00. 

Anyone wishing to review a copy of this decision may click this LINK.

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