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Federal Bar Update: Removal and venue changes are on the horizon

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Federal Bar UpdateMost key procedural changes in federal practice derive from rule amendments and case law. Rarely (and probably thankfully) do we expect Congress to be in the mix. With the recent passage of the Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011, however, key statutory changes to removal and venue are on the horizon.

History

In 2005, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee authored the predecessor to this new legislation. After several years of bouncing through committee, in 2010, the Judicial Conference actively vetted the bill with interested stakeholders, including the American Bar Association, the Federal Bar Association, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and legal scholars. In 2011, the bill worked its way through Congress, was passed by the Senate in November and signed by the president on Dec. 7. The Act takes effect on Jan. 6, 30 days after enactment, and shall apply to any action commenced on or after that date. The legislative history describes the purpose of these changes to “bring more clarity to the operation of Federal jurisdictional statutes” while facilitating the appropriate court where actions should be brought. The history recites, “Judges believe the current rules force them to waste time determining jurisdictional issues at the expense of adjudicating underlying litigation.”

Removal changes

The Act amends the removal statutes in many respects, including:

• upon removal of an action that has federal claims combined with claims that are not within the court’s supplemental jurisdiction, the District Court shall sever and remand those non-federal, non-supplemental claims;

• all defendants who have been served must join in or consent to removal (codifying current practice);

• each defendant has 30 days after “receipt by or service on that defendant of the initial pleading or summons”; 

• 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 it did not previously initiate or consent to removal;

• the Act still has a one-year cap on diversity removals unless the District Court finds that the plaintiff acted in bad faith to prevent removal, and if the court finds that plaintiff failed to disclose the amount in controversy to avoid removal, that is bad faith; and 

• the Act speaks to how to treat the amount in controversy on removal, including for jurisdictions (like Indiana) where in some types of cases the amount of damages cannot be set forth in the state court complaint, the notice of removal can set forth the amount in controversy.

Venue changes

The Act also amends venue provisions:

• the Act creates a new provision, 28 USC Section 1390 describing venue generally; and

• Section 1391 is re-written, collapsing (a) (diversity) and (b) (federal question) into a new (b) that has the same three standards.

Where to find the statute

Practitioners will have difficulty finding a clean version of the amended statutes. The Act is complicated and technical, deleting some provisions, adding others, and of course not providing a “clean” final version of the rewritten Code sections. Practitioners should be very careful to ensure that the statutory sections referred to from Jan. 6 forward are accurate and up to date. In the meantime, anyone desiring a copy of the Act can email the undersigned for a pdf copy.•

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John Maley – jmaley@btlaw.com – is a partner with Barnes & Thornburg LLP, practicing federal and state litigation, employment matters and appeals. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. It's a big fat black mark against the US that they radicalized a lot of these Afghan jihadis in the 80s to fight the soviets and then when they predictably got around to biting the hand that fed them, the US had to invade their homelands, install a bunch of corrupt drug kingpins and kleptocrats, take these guys and torture the hell out of them. Why for example did the US have to sodomize them? Dubya said "they hate us for our freedoms!" Here, try some of that freedom whether you like it or not!!! Now they got even more reasons to hate us-- lets just keep bombing the crap out of their populations, installing more puppet regimes, arming one faction against another, etc etc etc.... the US is becoming a monster. No wonder they hate us. Here's my modest recommendation. How about we follow "Just War" theory in the future. St Augustine had it right. How about we treat these obvious prisoners of war according to the Geneva convention instead of torturing them in sadistic and perverted ways.

  2. As usual, John is "spot-on." The subtle but poignant points he makes are numerous and warrant reflection by mediators and users. Oh but were it so simple.

  3. ACLU. Way to step up against the police state. I see a lot of things from the ACLU I don't like but this one is a gold star in its column.... instead of fighting it the authorities should apologize and back off.

  4. Duncan, It's called the RIGHT OF ASSOCIATION and in the old days people believed it did apply to contracts and employment. Then along came title vii.....that aside, I believe that I am free to work or not work for whomever I like regardless: I don't need a law to tell me I'm free. The day I really am compelled to ignore all the facts of social reality in my associations and I blithely go along with it, I'll be a slave of the state. That day is not today......... in the meantime this proposed bill would probably be violative of 18 usc sec 1981 that prohibits discrimination in contracts... a law violated regularly because who could ever really expect to enforce it along the millions of contracts made in the marketplace daily? Some of these so-called civil rights laws are unenforceable and unjust Utopian Social Engineering. Forcing people to love each other will never work.

  5. I am the father of a sweet little one-year-old named girl, who happens to have Down Syndrome. To anyone who reads this who may be considering the decision to terminate, please know that your child will absolutely light up your life as my daughter has the lives of everyone around her. There is no part of me that condones abortion of a child on the basis that he/she has or might have Down Syndrome. From an intellectual standpoint, however, I question the enforceability of this potential law. As it stands now, the bill reads in relevant part as follows: "A person may not intentionally perform or attempt to perform an abortion . . . if the person knows that the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion solely because the fetus has been diagnosed with Down syndrome or a potential diagnosis of Down syndrome." It includes similarly worded provisions abortion on "any other disability" or based on sex selection. It goes so far as to make the medical provider at least potentially liable for wrongful death. First, how does a medical provider "know" that "the pregnant woman is seeking the abortion SOLELY" because of anything? What if the woman says she just doesn't want the baby - not because of the diagnosis - she just doesn't want him/her? Further, how can the doctor be liable for wrongful death, when a Child Wrongful Death claim belongs to the parents? Is there any circumstance in which the mother's comparative fault will not exceed the doctor's alleged comparative fault, thereby barring the claim? If the State wants to discourage women from aborting their children because of a Down Syndrome diagnosis, I'm all for that. Purporting to ban it with an unenforceable law, however, is not the way to effectuate this policy.

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