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Black & Decker Inc. v. Brown

UNITED STATES COURT OF APPEALS FOR THE THIRD CIRCUIT


filed: April 30, 1987.

BLACK & DECKER (U.S.), INC. AND HOME INSURANCE COMPANY, PETITIONERS,
v.
HONORABLE GARRETT E. BROWN, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE, NOMINAL RESPONDENT, AND GUY BUSSELL, RESPONDENT

On Petition for Writ of Prohibition and Writ of Mandamus from the United States District Court for the District of New Jersey, Civil Action No. 87-905.

Stapleton, Mansmann, and Garth, Circuit Judges. Garth, Circuit Judge, dissenting.

Author: Stapleton

Opinion OF THE COURT

STAPLETON, J., Circuit Judge

Subsection (c) of Section 1447 of the Removal Statute provides that if "at any time before final judgment it appears that the case was removed improvidently and without jurisdiction, the district court shall remand the case. . . ." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Subsection (d) provides that, with one exception not here relevant, an "order remanding a case to the State court from which it was removed is not reviewable on appeal or otherwise." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d). The Supreme Court has held that the inclusion of the phrase "or otherwise" precludes review of a remand order in a proceeding like the instant one that is originated by a petition for an extraordinary writ. Gravitt v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., 430 U.S. 723, 52 L. Ed. 2d 1, 97 S. Ct. 1439 (1977).

The district court in this case decided to exercise the authority conferred upon it by subsection (c) and filed an opinion recording its conclusion that the case was removed from the state court "improvidently and without jurisdiction." We conclude that we are barred from reviewing that decision by subsection (d). While it is true that subsection (d) does not literally describe the situation currently before us because the district judge has not yet entered an order remanding the case, we believe it would thwart the clear Congressional intent to grant review in this proceeding. As the Supreme Court has twice noted, "in order to prevent delay in the trial of remanded cases, . . . Congress immunized from all forms of appellate review any remand order issued on the grounds specified in § 1447(c), whether or not that order might be deemed erroneous by an appellate court." Thermtron Products, Inc. v. Hermansdorfer, 423 U.S. 336, 46 L. Ed. 2d 542, 96 S. Ct. 584 (1976), (citing United States v. Rice, 327 U.S. 742, 90 L. Ed. 982, 66 S. Ct. 835 (1946)). If we were to reward with appellate review a party who manages to race to the Court of Appeals before the entry of a formal remand order, we would occasion the same kind of delay in the remanded proceeding that Congress sought to avoid. We decline to do so.

The appeal will be dismissed for want of appellate jurisdiction.

GARTH, Circuit Judge, dissenting:

After the plaintiff, Bussell, had received a state court judgment against the only defendant named in the state court action (DeWalt); Bussell, by a post-verdict motion sought to join two additional defendants -- Black & Decker and Home Insurance Company -- so as to obtain satisfaction of the state court judgment. Bussell sought to do so by a motion entitled: "Motion for Ruling that Plaintiff is Entitled to Judgment Against Black & Decker or Home Insurance Co." Black & Decker and Home Insurance Company then petitioned to remove on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The district court, in an opinion dated April 8, 1987, held that the motion to join two new defendants in the state court action did not constitute a "civil action" within the terms of 28 U.S.C. § 1441, that the defendants sought to be joined were real parties in interest, and that the removal was not timely.

I.

28 U.S.C. § 1447(d) provides that "an order remanding a case to the state court from which it was removed is not reviewable on appeal or otherwise . . ." The instruction of the United States Supreme Court is unequivocal in holding that we are barred from reviewing a district court's order of remand. See Gravitt, Executrix v. Southwestern Bell Telephone Co., et al., 430 U.S. 723, 52 L. Ed. 2d 1, 97 S. Ct. 1439 (1976).*fn1 This is so even if the district court erred, as I believe the district court here did, in its analysis and remand opinion.

However, in considering the writ of mandamus presented to us on April 9, 1987, it is undisputed that an order remanding the proceeding to the state courts of New Jersey has never been entered. An opinion has been rendered and filed -- but no order implementing that opinion has ever been signed, filed or docketed. Indeed, the only order that has been entered by the district court is an order in which the district court agreed not to enter a remand order until April 13, 1987. Of course, by that time, this Court had stayed all further proceedings so that we could read and consider the submissions made with the petition for mandamus. Thus, absent an order of remand to the state court, the bar of § 1447(d) does not attach. The majority of this panel has failed to provide any satisfactory explanation as to why we should forego our normal and traditional appellate function when no statute requires that we do so.

II.

I would issue the writ of mandamus, and I would hold that the proceeding was timely and properly removed, and that no reason has been presented why the parties to this controversy "should not enjoy [their] constitutional right of having [their] case tried by a court of the United States." Bondurant v. Watson, 103 U.S. (13 Otto) 281, 287, 26 L. Ed. 447 (1880). I therefore dissent from the majority's denial of the petitioner's writ.


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