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Miller v. Piper Aircraft

April 14, 2009

BRENT R. MILLER, INDIVIDUALLY AND AS THE PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF JEHRID AND ANGELA MILLER, ET AL. PLAINTIFFS,
v.
PIPER AIRCRAFT, INC. F/K/A THE NEW PIPER AIRCRAFT CORPORATION, ET AL. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jones, J.

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

The above-captioned matter involves fatal injuries allegedly sustained as the result of an in-flight aircraft break-up on March 7, 2007. Currently before this Court, is a Motion by Plaintiff to remand the case back to the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas. For the reasons which follow, Plaintiff's Motion will be granted.

Plaintiff initially filed his Complaint in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on December 16, 2008. (Doc. No. 3, ¶ 2) The following day, Plaintiff submitted his Complaint to the Lycoming County Sheriff for execution of service upon Defendants Lycoming Engines and Avco Corporation (hereinafter "Lycoming" and "Avco"); two companies that maintained their principal places of business in Lycoming County. Prior to submitting Plaintiff's Complaint, counsel's office telephoned the Sheriff and requested that the Complaint be served within three days. However, they were informed that by Rule, the Sheriff had thirty days within which to execute service.*fn1 On December 24, 2008, before the thirty-day period had passed, Defendant Textron, Inc. (hereinafter "Textron") removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

Asserting that for purposes of removal, no diversity jurisdiction or federal question existed, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Remand on January 22, 2009.*fn2 Textron subsequently filed a Response to said Motion, as well as a supplemental brief containing a decision issued on February 26, 2009 by the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, which they believed was dispositive of the issue at hand.*fn3

The Federal Rules regarding removal provide in pertinent part, as follows:

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. Any other such action shall be removable only if none of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought.

28 U.S.C.A. §1441(b) (emphasis added).

It is well-settled that:

Federal removal statutes are to be strictly construed against removal and all doubts should be resolved in favor of remand. [T]he Third Circuit interpreted 'all doubts' to mean that if there is any doubt as to the propriety of removal, [the] case should not be removed to federal court. The removing party bears the burden of proving the existence of federal subject matter jurisdiction.

Alex v. Eckerd Drugs, 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 57468, at **4-5 (W.D. Pa. Aug. 14, 2006).

Section 1441's requirements have been construed as follows:

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Federal district courts have subject matter jurisdiction over cases that meet the standards for diversity jurisdiction and cases that raise federal questions. Diversity jurisdiction exists where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, and the parties are citizens of different states.

Federal district courts have federal question jurisdiction over all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States. A case aris[es] under federal law within the meaning of § 1331... if a well-pleaded complaint establishes either that federal law creates the cause of action or that the plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on resolution of a substantial question of federal law.

A defendant may remove an action from state court to federal court only when a federal court would have had original jurisdiction over the action. However, there is a restriction on the removal of diversity cases known as the "forum defendant rule." Pursuant to this rule, set forth in 28 U.S.C. ยง 1441(b), removal is ...


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