Remand After Allowing Addition Of Non-diverse Plaintiff Is Not Reviewable

The flood of recent opinions emphasizing that Congress wanted parties to follow remanded cases back into their respective state courts -- rather than spending any time on appealing remands -- continues. Here is a report about a new Second Circuit case on that topic.

Section 1447(e) was added to the Judicial Code in 1988 specifically to allow remand of diversity cases where a non-diverse defendant is added later:

“If after removal the plaintiff seeks to join additional defendants whose joinder would destroy subject matter jurisdiction, the court may deny joinder, or permit joinder and remand the action to the State court.” (28 U.S.C. § 1447(e).)

Price v. J&H Marsh & McLennan, Inc., 493 F.3d 55 (2d Cir. July 6, 2007), analyzed the operation of 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e) under a slightly different scenario -- where the plaintiffs sought to join an additional plaintiff rather than an additional defendant.

After the district court had allowed the additional plaintiff to be added, and remanded the case as a result, defendant appealed. Plaintiffs moved to dismiss the appeal as falling within the scope of the prohibition against appellate review under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d). Defendant argued that § 1447(d) did not apply because the remand was based on a post-removal event, i.e., the addition of a new plaintiff.

Unfortunately for defendant, while the motion was pending the Supreme Court decided Powerex Corp. v. Reliant Energy Services, Inc., 127 S. Ct. 2411 (U.S. June 18, 2007) (discussed in a previous post). The Second Circuit read Powerex as a complete rejection of the “post-removal event” doctrine, and therefore viewed the appeal as barred. It also held that the collateral order doctrine provided no basis for appellate jurisdiction either.

The Price case has the effect of revising 28 U.S.C. § 1447(e) to cover additional plaintiffs as well as defendants.


Eighth Circuit Examines Circuit Split In Approaches To Foreign Antisuit Injunctions

In Goss Int’l Corp. v. Man Roland Druckmaschinen Aktiengesellschaft, 491 F.3d 355 (8th Cir. June 18, 2007), the district court enjoined a Japanese company within its jurisdiction from pursuing certain claims in Japanese courts. On appeal, the Eighth Circuit reversed the injunction as outside the scope of permissible grounds.

In considering the merits, in a matter of first impression for that jurisdiction, the court examined a split in the over the level of deference that should be afforded to international comity in determining whether a foreign antisuit injunction should issue. Under the “conservative” approach, adopted in the First, Second, Third, Sixth and D.C. Circuits, the movant must demonstrate both that the contemplated action in a foreign jurisdiction would prevent U.S. jurisdiction of threaten a vital U.S. policy, and that the domestic interests outweigh concerns of international comity. In contract, the “liberal” approach, adopted in the Fifth and Ninth Circuits and referenced with approval by the Seventh Circuit, only modest emphasis is to be placed on international comity, and an injunction may be issued when necessary to prevent duplicative and vexatious foreign litigation and to avoid inconsistent judgments.

The Eighth Circuit concluded that the “conservative” approach had the better argument, and particularly emphasized the importance of international comity in the new globalized economy.


Propriety of Strategic Pre-Service Removal in Diversity Will Not Be Tested In Appellate Courts

The Seventh Circuit has just issued a ruling dismissing an appeal from a remand order for lack of jurisdiction. In so doing, the court was forced to hold off deciding a very interesting dispute over removal jurisdiction, which it concluded that Congress excluded from appellate jurisdiction. The ruling follows closely on the heels of an additional district court decision that noted the issue was on appeal.

The underlying issue concerned the "forum defendant" removal rule under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b). That rule provides that even though diversity jurisdiction may be satisfied because of different citizenship, so it could have been commenced in federal court, a case is still not removable unless "none of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought." The controversy raised in the appeal concerned the proper interpretation of the "properly joined and served" language.

In Holmstrom v. Harad, No. 05 C 2714, 2005 WL 1950672 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 11, 2005), a New Jersey shareholder brought a putative derivative action on behalf of Home Depot, Inc., a Delaware company, in Illinois state court against 28 officers and directors, two of whom are Illinois citizens. Before plaintiff actually served any of the defendants, one of them (an Ohio citizen) removed the case to the Northern District of Illinois. Plaintiff moved to remand on the ground that removal ran afoul of the forum defendant rule because two of the defendants are citizens of the forum state. The removing defendant responded that the rule was fully satisfied given that neither of the Illinois defendants had yet been "properly joined and served."

The district court granted the motion. It found only one other case on point, Recognition Communications, Inc. v. American Automobile Association, No. Civ. A. 3:97-CV-0945-P, 1998 WL 119528 (N.D. Tex. Mar. 5, 1998), and it agreed with that court's reasoning. It concluded that although the literal language of the rule favors the removing defendant in this scenario, Congress did not intend that a fast-acting defendant should have an end-run through strategic pre-service removal. Rather, Congress created the forum defendant rule to protect defendants from plaintiffs who listed among multiple defendants a resident of the forum state they did not intend to pursue but merely named to defeat removal.

The defendant appealed the remand order to the Seventh Circuit. While that case was being briefed and argued, the same scenario occurred in the district court in another case. In Vivas v. Boeing Co., 486 F.Supp. 2d 726 (N.D. Ill. Mar. 12, 2007), plaintiffs sued Boeing in Illinois state court in connection with a plane crash in another country. Although Boeing was an Illinois citizen, it removed the case before it or any other defendant had been served, as it is permitted to do under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). The district court, relying on Holmstrom (which it noted was on appeal), refused to allow Boeing to use the fact that one may file a notice of removal before formal service to defeat the "properly joined and served" language of 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b), and it granted plaintiffs' motion to remand.

When the Seventh Circuit ultimately ruled in Holmstrom v. Harad, 492 F.3d 833 (7th Cir. July 3, 2007), it did not speak to the merits of the district courts' refusal to apply 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b) literally. Following an exhaustive analysis of the legislative history and development of that statute across multiple versions, it concluded that the 1996 amendments made clear that Congress intended to exclude from appellate review any remand order that was based on a defect in removal. The court determined that a remand order based on "failure to comply with the forum defendant rule is a defect in removal subject to § 1447(d)’s jurisdictional bar."

If the Seventh Circuit's reasoning prevails, it will be up to the district courts to establish the common law of whether strategic pre-service removal can be used to avoid the forum defendant rule.


Second Circuit Adopts Local Rule Regarding Non-Precedential ("Unpublished") Opinions

On December 1, 2006, the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure were amended to add Rule 32.1, which adopted a uniform standard permitting the citation of all judicial dispositions on or after January 1, 2007. The rule had the effect of requiring some courts of appeal to revise their rules to eliminate prohibitions against citing so-called “unpublished” opinions.

In a recent example of meeting the new requirement, on June 26, 2007, the Second Circuit adopted a final version of amended Local Rule 32.1, setting specific requirements for the issuance and citation of such opinions, which the court termed “summary orders.” The court commentary explained its purposes in issuing summary orders, and noted that although such orders are not precedential it “does not mean that the court considers itself free to rule differently in similar cases.”