UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT, EASTERN DISTRICT OF PENNSYLVANIA
October 4, 1979
ROBERT H. CROMPTON, III
PARK WARD MOTORS, INC., B & N LEASING CORPORATION and NETWORK LEASING COMPANY, INC.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN
Plaintiff instituted this action in the Court of Common Pleas of Lancaster County to rescind a contract which he and defendant Park Ward Motors, Inc. (Park Ward) signed for the lease of a new Rolls Royce sedan.
The parties allegedly agreed that plaintiff would receive a nine thousand dollar credit for the trade-in of his Mercedes Benz. Plaintiff complains that defendants did not credit his account as agreed and that they induced him to trade in his car and to lease the Rolls Royce by fraudulently misrepresenting the actual terms of the deal. Alleging that the written contract does not embody their actual agreement, plaintiff seeks compensatory and punitive damages, rescission of the contract or reformation thereof to reflect a credit for the trade-in value of plaintiff's Mercedes Benz. Plaintiff served defendant Park Ward on June 26, 1979, one day after serving B & N and Network. One month later defendant Park Ward removed the action to this Court. On August 2, 1979, more than thirty days after service and receipt of plaintiff's complaint, B & N and Network filed joinders to the removal petition. Now moving to remand, plaintiff argues that B & N's and Network's failure to join the removal petition within the thirty-day period prescribed by statute destroys federal jurisdiction.
The time limit for removal of civil cases to federal district court is found in 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b), which provides that
(t)he petition for removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed Within thirty days after the receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is based. (emphasis added)
This requirement cannot be extended by consent of the parties or order of the court. Typh, Inc. v. Typhoon Fence of Pennsylvania, Inc., 461 F. Supp. 994, 996 (E.D.Pa.1978), Perrin v. Walker, 385 F. Supp. 945, 948 (E.D.Ill.1974), Sun Oil Co. of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 365 F. Supp. 1403, 1406 (E.D.Pa.1973). All defendants must join in or consent to removal. Chicago, R. I. & P. Railway Co. v. Martin, 178 U.S. 245, 248, 20 S. Ct. 854, 44 L. Ed. 1055 (1900), Tri-Cities Newspapers, Inc. v. Tri-Cities Printing Pressmen and Assistants Local 349, 427 F.2d 325, 327 (5th Cir. 1970), P. P. Farmers' Elevator Co. v. Farmers Elevator Mutual Insurance Co., 395 F.2d 546, 548 (7th Cir. 1968), Bradley v. Maryland Casualty Co., 382 F.2d 415, 419 (8th Cir. 1967), Glenmede Trust Co. v. Dow Chemical Co., 384 F. Supp. 423, 429 (E.D.Pa.1974), Sun Oil Co. of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 365 F. Supp. at 1406, Resident Advisory Board v. Tate, 329 F. Supp. 427, 432 (E.D.Pa.1971). It follows that all defendants must join within the thirty-day period directed by § 1446(b). DiCesare-Engler Productions, Inc. v. Mainman Ltd., 421 F. Supp. 116, 119-20 (W.D.Pa.1976) ("on petition to remove a case to federal court, the Defendants are to be treated collectively, and . . . all defendants who may properly join in the removal petition must do so") (emphasis added), Sun Oil Co. of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, supra (remanded where intervening defendants joined in removal more than thirty days after original defendants served), Crawford v. Fargo Manufacturing Co., 341 F. Supp. 762 (M.D.Fla.1972) (remanded where consent to removal was filed by co-defendant subsequent to expiration of time for filing), Norwich Realty Corp. v. United States Fire Insurance Co., 218 F. Supp. 484 (D.Conn.1963) (remanded where all defendants had not joined in removal petition within required time). To hold otherwise would elide this requirement from the statute altogether, for the purpose of § 1446(b) is "to provide a Uniform and definite time for a defendant to remove an action". Haun v. Retail Credit Co., 420 F. Supp. 859, 863 (W.D.Pa.1976) (emphasis added). See also Sun Oil of Pennsylvania v. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 365 F. Supp. at 1407.
Accordingly, plaintiff's motion to remand will be granted.