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Brown v. Teva Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

October 23, 2019

HEATHER BROWN
v.
TEVA PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., et al.

          MEMORANDUM

          Bartle, J.

         The plaintiff has before this court a motion to remand this action to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         Plaintiff has sued the defendants under state law for injuries suffered from the insertion and removal of a Paraguard Intrauterine Device. The plaintiff is a citizen of Florida while several of the defendants are citizens of Pennsylvania.

         The events relevant to the pending motion all took place on the same day. The complaint was filed in the state court on August 16, 2019 at 10:06 a.m. The defendants, before they were served, filed a notice of removal in this court at 1:55 p.m. on the basis of diversity of citizenship. All defendants were served with a copy of the complaint at 2:15 p.m. At 4:11 p.m., the defendants filed their notice of removal on the docket of the state court.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), a defendant may remove an action to the federal court where the court has original jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), that is where all plaintiffs have diverse citizenship from all defendants and the amount in controversy is in excess of $75, 000, exclusive of interest and costs. See Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah Services, Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 553 (2005). The defendant must file its notice of removal within thirty days after receipt, through service or otherwise, of the complaint or summons. See § 1446(b). However, an exception precluding removal of a diversity case exists under the forum defendant rule in § 1441(b)(2) which provides:

a civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of [diversity jurisdiction] may not be removed if any 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. § 1441(b)(2). Plaintiff argues that removal was improper because several defendants are citizens of Pennsylvania, the forum state.

         The Court of Appeals in Encompass Ins. Co. v. Stone Mansion Restaurant, Inc., 902 F.3d 147 (3d Cir. 2018) has held that removal by a forum defendant is allowed under § 1441(b)(2) if removal to the federal court occurs before the defendant has been served with the complaint. The Court concluded that “[i]ts plain meaning precludes removal on the basis of in-state citizenships only when the defendant has been properly joined and served.” Id. at 152. Defendants maintain that they removed the action before they were served as permitted in Encompass.[1]

         Defendant must also meet several other requirements for removal under § 1446(d) including the filing of a copy of the notice of removal with the state court. It provides:

Promptly after the filing of such notice of removal of a civil action the defendant or defendants shall give written notice thereof to all adverse parties and shall file a copy of the notice with the clerk of such State court, which shall effect the removal and the State court shall proceed no further unless and until the case is remanded.

28 U.S.C. § 1446(d).

         Plaintiff counters that Encompass does not apply and that remand to the state court is required because the defendants were served with the complaint before a copy of the notice of removal was filed in the state court. According to plaintiff, the removal by a defendant is not effective under § 1446(d) until the state court has a copy of the removal notice on its docket. It is undisputed that the defendants were served before this event occurred.

         Under Encompass, as noted, an in-state defendant may remove a diversity action to the federal court if it does so prior to the time it is served with the complaint. While the Court of Appeals in passing referenced the notice of removal, it discussed removal generally without considering all of its requirements. It did not have before it any issue about the filing of a copy of the removal notice in the state court and did not mention § 1446(d).

         Under § 1446(d), the defendant must notify all adverse parties in writing, must file a copy of the removal notice in the state court, and must do so promptly after the filing of the notice in the federal court. It is only after the filing of the removal notice in the state court that “the State Court ...


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