Removal of State Civil Actions: Time Limitation

Removal of State Civil Actions: Time Limitation


by Gregory Williams, Esq. | Under 28 U.S.C. § 1446--Procedure for Removal of Civil Actions--how much time do movants have to remove state civil actions to U.S. district courts? Here's my point of view (NOTE: please read our DISCLAIMER before proceeding).


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WHY REMOVE FROM STATE TO FEDERAL COURT?

In my practice, I only represent employees and former employees against their employers based upon violations of state and federal employment discrimination laws. 

I typically file such lawsuits in Washington State superior courts where the number of jurors required to render a verdict for my plaintiff-clients is less than unanimous. In such circumstances, employer-defendants usually attempt to remove the cases to federal U.S. district court for a variety of reasons -- one likely being the requirement of a unanimous jury verdict for a plaintiff victory. 

However, employers are sometimes oblivious to the time limitation for removal of state civil actions, and I've successfully used the following statue as a "shield" against removal under similar circumstances.

FEDERAL COURT:  TIME LIMITATION FOR REMOVAL OF CIVIL ACTIONS

The relevant statue is 28 U.S.C. § 1446 (Procedure for removal of civil actions), and it states as follows: 

(a) Generally.—

A defendant or defendants desiring to remove any civil action from a State court shall file in the district court of the United States for the district and division within which such action is pending a notice of removal signed pursuant to Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal, together with a copy of all process, pleadings, and orders served upon such defendant or defendants in such action.

(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.

28 U.S.C. § 1446 (emphasis added).

CONCLUSION

A state-court movant must file a notice of removal of a civil action/proceeding in U.S. district court within 30 days after receipt by the defendant of a copy of the initial pleading; or within 30 days after service of summons upon defendant (if such initial pleading has been filed in court and is not required to be served upon defendant -- whichever period is shorter).

LEARN MORE

If you would like to learn more, then consider contacting an experienced Washington State Employment Attorney as soon as possible to discuss your case. PLEASE NOTE: The information contained in this article is not offered as legal advice and will not form an attorney-client relationship with either this author, Law Office of Gregory Williams, P.S., Inc., or Williams Law Group, PS; please see our DISCLAIMER.


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