The opinion of the court was delivered by: DITTER
Presently before the court in this action removed from the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County is plaintiff's motion to remand. For reasons which follow, this motion will be granted.
Plaintiff alleges that while moving a 2,000 pound glass case from a truck to a forklift he was severely injured when the case fell from the truck, pinning him against the forklift. Named as defendants are American Tempering, Inc., plaintiff's employer and the packager of the glass case; M.L. Burke & Co. and Maurice Burke, owners of the premises on which the accident occurred; White Lift Truck, the manufacturer of the forklift; Ford Motor Co., the manufacturer of the truck; and Aluminum, Brick and Glass Workers International Union and Local 510 G of that union, labor organizations of which plaintiff was a member.
Plaintiff alleges that the truck, the forklift, and the glass case were defectively designed. He also contends that Burke and Burke Co. were negligent in failing to post instructions regarding unloading of glass cases on their premises, failing to supervise unloading, and failing to maintain their premises. Finally, plaintiff alleges that his union and the international were negligent in failing to instruct and supervise him in the performance of his employment duties.
Although the parties have devoted argument exclusively to the question of whether plaintiff's claims against the union-defendants are grounded in federal law, I conclude that even if plaintiff's claims are federal, the matter should be remanded to state court.
A defendant against whom a federal claim has been asserted in state court may attempt to remove a case under one of two subsections of 28 U.S.C. § 1441. Section 1441(b) provides in part that "any civil action of which the district courts have original jurisdiction founded on a claim or right arising under the Constitution, treaties or laws of the United States shall be removable without regard to the citizenship or residence of the parties." As a general matter, in order to remove under subsection (b), all defendants named in the action must join in the removal petition. See Chicago, Rock Island & Pacific R. Co. v. Martin, 178 U.S. 245, 248, 44 L. Ed. 1055, 20 S. Ct. 854 (1900); Lewis v. Rego Co., 757 F.2d 66, 68 (3d Cir. 1985). In this case, only the unions have joined in the removal petition; the other defendants were simply served with copies of the petition. The court's procedural inquiry may not stop at this juncture, however, because there are several exceptions to the universal joinder rule.
First, where a defendant files a removal petition prior to service of the complaint on a co-defendant, the removing defendant need not obtain the joinder of the non-served co-defendant. See Lewis v. Rego, 757 F.2d at 68; DiCesare Englar Productions, Inc. v. Mainman Ltd., 421 F. Supp. 116 (W.D. Pa. 1976). Second, merely nominal parties may be disregarded for removal purposes and need not join in the removal petition. Northern Illinois Gas Co. v. Airco Industrial Gases, 676 F.2d 270, 277 (7th Cir. 1982).
A review of the state court file reveals that defendants other than the unions had been served at the time the removal petition had been filed, and that at least colorable claims had been presented against defendants other than the unions. Consequently, defendants cannot rely on section 1441(b) as a basis for removal.
A second basis for removal of a federal question is offered by section 1441(c), which allows the removal of a case from state court if the state complaint contains a claim that both would be within federal jurisdiction if maintained alone and is separate and independent from the other claims.
To effectuate removal under subsection (c), the party against whom a federal claim has been asserted need not obtain the joinder of the other defendants. See Lemke v. St. Margaret Hosp., 552 F. Supp. 833, 841 n.11 (N.D. Ill. 1982); Wilson v. Intercollegiate (Big Ten) Conference Athletic Ass'n, 513 F. Supp. 1062, 1066 (C.D. Ill. 1981); 14A C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, Federal Practice and Procedure § 3731, at 507-08 n. 9 (2d ed. 1985).
The Finn decision has had the effect of severely limiting the availability of removal under 1441(c). See Dorfman v. E.R. Squibb & Sons, Inc., 617 F. Supp. 496 slip op. at 7 (E.D. Pa. Aug. 21, 1985) (Broderick, J.); 14A C. Wright, A. Miller & E. Cooper, supra § 3724, at 370; 1A J. Moore & B. Ringle, supra P 0.163 [4.-5-1], at 340. Nonetheless, claims may be separate and independent where they involve "completely different questions of fact and substantially different questions of law," New England Concrete Pipe v. D/C Sys., 658 F.2d 867, 873 (1st Cir. 1981) (citing Climax Chem. Co. v. C.F. Braun Co., 370 F.2d 616 (10th Cir. 1966), cert. denied, 386 U.S. 981, 87 S. Ct. 1287, 18 L. Ed. 2d 231 (1967)), or where the defendants, acting individually, each invade a separate right of the plaintiff. Dorfman v. E.R. Squibb & Sons, Inc., 617 F. Supp. 496, slip op. at 7-8 (quoting 1A J. Moore & B. Ringle, supra P 0.163 [4.-5-1], at 323).
In this case, although the legal standards applicable to the unions may differ from those applicable to the other defendants, the claims against each defendant all depend on a full development of the facts at the time of the accident. Moreover, plaintiff's complaint, taken as a whole, alleges that the combination of action or inaction of each defendant contributed to plaintiff's injury. It follows, the claims must be viewed as "interlocking" within the meaning of the term used in Finn. While the nature of the duty each defendant allegedly owed to plaintiff may have differed qualitatively, the claims against the various defendants are dependent on each other. Cf. Bowerman v. Tomhave, 414 F. Supp. 7 (E.D. Pa. 1975) (products liability claim against manufacturer of medical product not separate and independent from claim against physician for negligent insertion of product); Fischer v. Brotherhood of R. Trainmen, 284 F. Supp. 491 (W.D. Mo. 1968) (claim against union for breach of duty of fair representation not separate and distinct from claim against employer for breach of contract).
Furthermore, plaintiff has prayed for joint and several liability. While such a prayer is not controlling, Ryan v. Tollefson, 118 F. Supp. 420, 423 (E.D. N.Y. 1954), it provides a strong indication that there is only a single wrong. Armstrong v. Monex Int'l, 413 F. Supp. 567 (N.D. Ill. 1976); Knight v. Chrysler Corp., 134 F. Supp. 598, 600 (D. N.J. 1955).
Finally, although subsection (c) should be applied fairly, the federal courts should construe and apply it in such a manner as will carry out the intent to restrict removal, White v. Baltic Conveyor Co., 209 F. Supp.716 (D. N.J. 1962), and all doubts should be resolved in favor of remand. Greenshields v. Warren Petroleum Corp., 248 F.2d 61, 65 (10th Cir. 1957). Taking into account all of the foregoing, I must conclude ...