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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. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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