Personal Injury Lawyer
In almost every suit, Defendants and insurance companies will try to find a way to remove a case from state court to federal court. For most plaintiffs, it is better for their cases if they are in state court versus federal court because federal courts typically have more conservative results as well as more conservative discovery rulings, which can significantly affect your claim. This is the reason why Defendants want to be there.
When can your case be in federal court? Typically federal courts have jurisdiction over cases where there is a federal question at issue in the case or where there is diversity jurisdiction according to a personal injury lawyer with our friends at Kiefer & Kiefer. This is essentially founded on the idea that if there is a local Plaintiff suing an out of state Defendant in state court that there will be a “home field advantage” that would be fundamentally unfair.
28 U.S.C. § 1332(a) provides the basis for federal diversity jurisdiction. It states:
The district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions where the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between citizens of different States.
Federal law provides a procedural hurdle for removal, known as the “local defendant rule,” “forum defendant rule,” “home defendant rule”, “home-state defendant rule”, or “forum home defendant rule.” The applicable removal statute incorporating the forum defendant rule provides:
A civil action otherwise removable solely on the basis of the jurisdiction under section 1332(a) of this title 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
Essentially, this exception recognizes that where the Plaintiff is out of state and the defendant is local, the prejudices that federal diversity jurisdiction is meant to avoid do not really exist.
“Snap removal” is a term that has been given to a maneuver where a defendant gets notified of a lawsuit and removes the matter to federal court prior to the local defendant being served in an attempt to circumvent the forum defendant rule. Typically, the defendant that is snap removing the case to federal court is the insurance company, as it is likely that the local defendant is an individual or a company. This is a completely legal and proper exercise of jurisdiction by the defendants. One of the easiest ways to avoid this removal issue is to wait until the local defendants are served and then bring on the out of state defendant or insurance company into the suit. At that point, it will be too late to remove the case to federal court.
It is important to hire an attorney who understands these nuances and procedural issues, as it could have a drastic effect on the outcome of your case. Reach out to a lawyer near you for help immediately.