Establishment Of New Precedent Does Not Start 30-Day Clock For Removal

Under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), a case that was not removable when originally filed may still be removed if the defendants receive an “amended pleading, motion or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is one which is or has become removable.” The defendants may file a notice of removal within 30 days of receiving that indication that the case is now removable. Typically such an indication is the filing by one of the parties of an amended pleading or other paper that raises a federal question.

However, in Dahl v. R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co., 478 F.3d 965 (8th Cir. Feb. 28, 2007), defendants argued that the publication of a new precedent in the Eighth Circuit establishing that cases like the one in Dahl were removable started a new 30-day clock under § 1446(b). The Eighth Circuit rejected that argument, holding that the receipt of an opinion from a different case did not constitute an “amended pleading, motion or other paper” for purposes of the removal statutes.

Expert Testimony Remains Absolutely Privileged Against Being Basis For Claims

Most states recognize an absolute privilege for statements in testimony or pleadings in a judicial proceeding. In MacGregor v. Rutberg, 478 F.3d 790 (7th Cir. Feb. 27, 2007), the plaintiff attempted to carve out an exception for expert testimony. She argued that while acting as an expert for a patient that was suing her for malpractice, defendant neurosurgeon gave testimony that defamed her. Applying Illinois law, the court refused to exempt expert testimony from the absolute testimonial privilege. The court observed, "Litigation is costly enough without judges’ making it more so by throwing open the door to defamation suits against expert witnesses."


Award Of Costs Must Be Charged To Party, Not Counsel

Pursuant to Fed. R. Civ. P. 54(D)(1) and 28 U.S.C. § 1920(6), “costs” are awarded to prevailing parties “as of course” for various trial-related expenses including court fees, reporters, and court-appointed experts.

In In re Cardizem CD Antitrust Litig., 481 F.3d 355 (6th Cir. Feb. 22, 2007), the district court ordered an attorney for an objector to the proposed class-action settlement to pay the compensation of a settlement administrator hired to disburse $80 million in settlement funds to the class. After unsuccessfully objecting to the settlement, the objector took an appeal, which was dismissed for failure to post bond. On remand the class plaintiffs sought sanctions and costs caused by the delay. The district court rejected various sanctions but awarded costs of over $250,000 for the settlement administrator’s fees as a court-appointed expert under 28 U.S.C. § 1920(6).

The Sixth Circuit reversed because the award was charged to objector’s counsel, while the court interpreted the statute and rules to permit awards to be charged only to parties, i.e., the objector here and not her counsel. The court rejected the argument that district courts have inherent or equitable power to charge awards of “costs” to counsel. However, in remanding, the court noted without deciding the question of whether settlement administrators are “court-appointed experts” for purposes of § 1920(6), and cited a circuit split.