Thursday, March 10, 2016

Removal Information to Federal Court

The statutory procedures for removal are to be strictly construed.  A defendant removing a civil action must file in the U.S. district court for the district and division in which the state proceeding is pending a “notice of removal” that contains “a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal” and that attaches the process, pleadings, and orders served upon the defendant in the action.  The notice of removal must generally be filed within thirty days. The Supreme Court has clarified what triggers the thirty days to run:
First, if the summons and complaint are served together, the 30-day period for removal runs at once. Second, if the defendant is served with the summons but is furnished with the complaint sometime after, the removal period runs from the receipt of the complaint. Third, if the defendant is served with the summons and the complaint is filed in court, but under local rules, service of the complaint is not required, the removal period runs from the date the complaint is made available through filing. Finally, if the complaint is filed in court prior to any service, the removal period runs from the service of the summons.
The thirty days does not being running upon receipt of a faxed courtesy copy of a complaint, unaccompanied by formal service.  In a case not originally removable, the defendant may remove to federal court within thirty days of receiving information in an “amended pleading, motion, order or other paper” which allows the defendant to “ascertain ... that the case is one which is or has become removable ....”. The Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act has resolved a circuit court split over the so-called “last-served defendant rule.” Under the new provision, each defendant has thirty days to remove, but if the defendants are served at different times, an earlier-served defendant which did not timely remove, may consent to a removal filed by a later-served defendant. 

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