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Mitchell v. Honda Financial Services Corp.

United States District Court, W.D. Pennsylvania

October 26, 2017

ALEXIS D. MITCHELL, Plaintiff,
v.
HONDA FINANCIAL SERVICES CORP., et al., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          Cathy Bissoon United States District Judge

         I. MEMORANDUM

         Pending before the Court is Plaintiff's Motion to Remand (Doc. 12). Plaintiff contends that the Notice of Removal filed by Defendant Citizens One Bank (“Citizens”) was procedurally defective, and that the case should be remanded to the state court from which it was removed. For the reasons that follow, Plaintiff's Motion will be denied.

         A. Procedural Background

         Plaintiff filed this action in the Armstrong County Court of Common Pleas on May 23, 2017. (Doc. 1-1). Her Complaint alleges claims pursuant to the Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act and the Federal Fair Credit Reporting Act. Id. Honda and Citizens were served with the Complaint on May 26, 2017. Id. Exeter was served with the Complaint on June 16, 2017. (Doc. 12-1.)

         On June 23, 2017, Citizens filed a Notice of Removal with this Court. (Doc. 1). The basis for its removal to federal court was 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). (Doc. 1, ¶ 9). On June 30, 2017, Citizens filed its Answer and Affirmative Defenses. (Doc. 4). On July 7, 2017, Exeter filed its Answer and Affirmative Defenses. (Doc. 6). On July 11, 2017, Plaintiff filed a Notice of Voluntary Dismissal with respect to Honda. (Doc. 9). On July 13, 2017, Exeter filed a consent to Citizens's Notice of Removal. (Doc. 10). On July 19, 2017, Plaintiff filed her Motion to Remand. (Doc. 12). On August 8, 2017, Citizens filed its Brief in Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand. (Doc. 14). On August 8, 2017, Exeter filed its Opposition to Plaintiff's Motion to Remand, joining Citizens's arguments. (Doc. 15). On September 13, 2017, Plaintiff and Citizens filed a Stipulation of Dismissal as to Citizens, which the Court approved by Order the same date. (Docs. 16, 17). As a result, Exeter is the only remaining Defendant.

         B. Legal Standards

         Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). After a notice of removal is filed, a plaintiff may seek to remand the action back to state court under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c) for “(1) lack of district court subject matter jurisdiction or (2) a defect in the removal procedure.” Ramos v. Quien, 631 F.Supp.2d 601, 607 (E.D. Pa. 2008) (quoting PAS v. Travelers Ins. Co., 7 F.3d 349, 352 (3d Cir. 1993)). 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A) provides: “[w]hen a civil action is removed solely under section 1441(a), all defendants who have been properly joined and served must join in or consent to the removal of the action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A). On a motion to remand, the party asserting federal jurisdiction bears the burden of establishing that the action properly is before the court. Samuel-Bassett v. KIA Motors Am., Inc., 357 F.3d 392, 396 (3d Cir. 2004). As federal courts are of limited jurisdiction, removal statutes are construed strictly against removal, with all doubts resolved in favor of remand. Id.; Boyer v. Snap-On Tools Corp., 913 F.2d 108, 111 (3d Cir. 1990).

         C. Analysis

         Plaintiff's Motion to Remand is premised on Citizens's Notice of Removal being “procedurally defective because it violates the rule of unanimity contained in 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(2)(A).” (Doc. 12 at 2). As explained in Albert v. Bayerische Motorenwerke Aktiengesollschaft, “the so-called rule of unanimity . . . requires that ‘when there is more than one defendant, all must join in the removal petition.'” Id., 45 F. App'x. 170, 171 (3d Cir. June 10, 2002) (quoting Lewis v. Rego Co., 757 F.2d 66, 68 (3d Cir.1985)). The “unanimity rule” is codified in section 1446(b)(2):

(b) Requirements; generally.-- (1) The notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed within 30 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, or within 30 days after the service of summons upon the defendant if such initial pleading has then been filed in court and is not required to be served on the defendant, whichever period is shorter.
(2)(A) When a civil action is removed solely under section 1441(a), all defendants who have been properly joined and served must join in or consent to the removal of the action.
(B) Each defendant shall have 30 days after receipt by or service on that defendant of the initial pleading or summons described in paragraph (1) to file the notice of removal.
(C) If defendants are served at different times, and a later-served defendant files a notice of removal, any earlier-served defendant may consent to the removal even though that earlier-served defendant did ...

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