Brown v. MHN Government Services, Inc., 2013 WL 2321509 (W.D. Wash. May 28, 2013).
The U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington held that a recent Supreme Court opinion in a wholly separate case does not reset the 30-day removal window under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3).
Initially, the plaintiffs filed an action in the Pierce County Superior Court for the State of Washington (“Brown I”), alleging state wage law claims on behalf of themselves and a proposed class. The defendants removed the action to the District Court under CAFA, and the plaintiffs then voluntarily dismissed that complaint.
Thereafter, the plaintiffs filed a new complaint in Pierce County Superior Court for the State of Washington (“Brown II”), alleging state wage law claims on behalf of themselves and a proposed class. The plaintiffs and 12 other named plaintiffs then filed a complaint in the District Court, alleging violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act and the California Labor Code. The defendants removed Brown II to the District Court, and the plaintiffs moved for remand. The District Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion.
Subsequent to the Supreme Court’s decision in Standard Fire Ins. Co. v. Knowles, 133 S. Ct. 1345 (2013), the defendants again removed Brown II to the District Court, and the plaintiffs moved to remand. (Editors’ Note: see CAFA law blog analysis on Knowles posted on April 12, 2013.)
The District Court observed that the defendants removed the matter without any authority for the proposition that a recent Supreme Court opinion in a wholly separate case resets the 30-day removal window under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3). The defendants provided an unpersuasive argument for the proposition that the District Court should extend the limited exception of out-of-circuit cases and hold that a Supreme Court decision, which did not involve the party seeking removal but was sufficiently related to the proceedings, could qualify as an order or “other paper.” The District Court declined to adopt the defendants’ proposed new rule of law and, accordingly, granted the plaintiffs’ motion for remand.
The plaintiffs requested an award of expenses. The District Court noted that an order remanding the case may require payment of just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal. Whether fees and costs are awarded depended on the reasonableness of the removal. Further, the District Court noted that fees may be awarded under unusual circumstances or where there is no objectively reasonable basis for removal. Here, because it did not find that the defendants’ argument had no objectively reasonable basis for removal, the District Court declined granting an award of fees and costs.