Wednesday, October 7, 2020

Grounds for Removal of Case to Federal Court Can be Triggered by Plaintiff's Case Management Memorandum

In the case of Sultan v. AIG Cas. Ins., No. 20-935 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 10, 2020 Schiller, J.), the court denied a Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand her action against an insurance company. 

In ruling on the issues before it, including the timing of the removal to federal court in the first place, the court found that a Plaintiff’s pre-Complaint demand did not start the runnning the thirty (30) day clock for filing a Notice of Removal. The court noted that pre-Complaint communications between counsel did not qualify as a document from which it could be ascertained by the defense that the case is one which was removable. The court noted that such documents that pre-date the filing of an initial pleading cannot serve this purpose. 

The court in this decision also established that there may be cases where even the content of the Complaint does not put the Defendant on notice of a possibility for removal.  Rather, the court found in this case that the Defendant was not placed on notice that the amount in controversy was sufficient for removal until the Plaintiff had filed her Case Management Conference Memorandum in which a demand for over $1.2 million dollars was stated. 

The court noted that the Plaintiff's initial pleading was not removable because the amount in controversary was not met within that pleading. However, once the Plaintiff identified the demand in the Case Management filing, the defense could properly remove the case within thirty (30) days of receiving that document. 

Given that the court found that the removal was timely since it was filed within thirty (30) days of receipt of “other paper from which it may be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable,” the court denied the Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand. 

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

Source: “Digest of Recent Opinions.” Pennsylvania Law Weekly (Aug. 25, 2020).

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