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To Remove Or Not To Remove?

by | Feb 27, 2024 | Commercial Litigation, Vehicle Accident Litigation

The legal battleground often begins in state courts, but what happens when a defendant prefers the federal arena? While plaintiffs decide where a lawsuit is filed, a defendant still has a say. Plaintiffs often choose courts for familiarity and perceived advantages, aiming for a favorable and somewhat predictable judge and jury. This puts a defendant in a dilemma – to remove or not to remove?

The defendant’s decision often hinges on the quality of federal judges, prompting a defendant to consider removal to a federal setting. Other benefits of Federal court include: (1) jury pools that pull from multiple counties and not just one like state court; (2) jury decisions must be unanimous to reach a verdict; and (3) potentially, less congested dockets. Thus, if Federal Court jurisdiction is desired, then this is where Snap Removal, a strategic maneuver, might come into play.

So, what is Snap Removal? The Snap Removal Doctrine allows a defendant to execute the removal of an otherwise non-removable case, specifically when a named defendant, yet to be “properly joined and served,” is a citizen of the forum state. This legal maneuver creates a strategic window of opportunity for defendants, allowing them to shift the jurisdiction of a case involving a forum defendant.

Snap Removal is particularly noteworthy because of its seemingly evasive nature concerning the Forum Defendant Rule. Traditionally, the Forum Defendant Rule imposes a restriction on the removal of a case involving a forum defendant. Snap Removal, however, navigates around this restriction, introducing an opportunity for defendants to act swiftly and strategically. Snap Removal hinges on the timing of the removal, necessitating the filing of the removal before the forum defendant receives proper service.

Federal courts around the country hold varying perspectives on Snap Removal. It is crucial for an out-of-state defendant to diligently consider the law when determining the feasibility of removal before the service of a forum defendant. In the Fifth Circuit, the Court’s decision in Texas Brine Co., L.L.C., v. American Arbitration Association Inc. establishes that a non-forum defendant can remove an otherwise unremovable case if it involves a named forum defendant, and the removal takes place before the proper joinder and service of the forum defendant. The Court acknowledged the procedural nature of the Forum Defendant Rule and emphasized that the statute explicitly prohibits removal in the forum where the defendant has been properly joined and served.

In our legal practice, especially within the domain of trucking litigation in Texas, we regularly confront situations where the truck driver serves as the forum defendant. If Federal Court jurisdiction is desired in such a case, it is imperative to initiate removal proceedings before the forum defendant receives proper service. In such cases, it is important to ascertain whether the forum defendant, the truck driver, has been served. Contacting the defendant truck driver may be necessary to ascertain whether he, the forum defendant, has been served. In such situations, proactive communication is important to effectively navigate the legal landscape. Ensuring timely and accurate information is crucial for making informed decisions regarding the initiation of removal proceedings. Checking the Court’s Docket is also required.

Ultimately, Snap Removal highlights the strategic essence of legal proceedings, emphasizing the tactical nature of this approach. Defendants deciding whether to initiate removal must factor in considerations such as jurisdiction and comprehend the potential benefits provided by federal courts. If the Federal court is your client’s preferred jurisdiction, after weighing the pros and cons, then the doctrine of Snap Removal can be a useful tactic to utilize in removing a case involving a forum defendant. However, time is of the essence, as the removal must occur before the forum defendant is properly served. Thus, retaining your attorney sooner rather than later is always preferred so that scenarios like Snap Removal can be utilized before the opportunity passes. For more information on Snap Removal, feel free to contact the firm for additional information and discussion.


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