Thursday, March 21, 2024

Federal Court Case Remanded to State Court Based on Untimeliness of the Removal

In the case of Calpin v. The ADT Security Services, Inc., No. 3:2023-CV-1418-JKM (M.D.Pa. Feb. 20, 2024, Munley, J.), the Court remanded the case back to the state court after finding that the defendant’s notice of removal was procedurally defective in that it was untimely.

According to the opinion, this matter arose out of the alleged termination of the plaintiff’s employment while he pursued worker’s compensation benefits.

The plaintiff originally filed suit in the Lackawanna County Court of Common Pleas. Nearly ten months after the filing of the plaintiff’s Complaint, the defendant removed the matter to federal court.

In the matter before the Court on the motion to remand, the defendant asserted that the removal was timely based upon when information was obtained during discovery regarding the amount in controversy. As noted, the plaintiff argued that the defendant removed the matter in an untimely manner.

Judge Julia K. Munley
M.D. Pa.

Judge Julia K. Munley of the Federal Middle District Court of Pennsylvania generally noted that a notice of removal must be filed within thirty days after service of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which the action is based. Here, there was no dispute that the defendant filed its notice of removal beyond the thirty day period.

While the Court noted that, under certain circumstances, a defendant may file a notice of removal more than thirty days after the receipt of the initial pleading, here, the Court rejected the defendant’s contention that they did not know that the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000 until information was secured from the plaintiff’s responses to Interrogatories.

The plaintiff asserted that the state court Complaint placed the defendant on notice that the amount in controversy exceeded $75,000. The Court agreed. The Court noted that the plaintiff’s Complaint detailed the underlying economic damages claims and also asserted a punitive damages claim. The Court found that the amounts regarding the plaintiff’s alleged ongoing wage loss claim could be readily calculated and evaluated by the defendant based upon the information provided.

The Court additionally noted that, on the basis of the plaintiff’s alleged punitive damages claims alone as set forth in the state court Complaint, the defendant had the ability to remove the case to federal court when the complaint. was served.

Overall, the Court found that, where the defendant did not remove the case within the thirty day period allowed, the plaintiff’s motion to remand the case to state court was granted.

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

I send thanks to Attorney Michael Foley of the Foley Law Firm in Scranton for bringing this case to my attention.

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