California Case Removed During Jury Selection Sent Back to State Court

CALIFORNIA – The plaintiff, Arthur Putt, filed suit in Los Angeles Superior Court on December 3, 2018, alleging he developed mesothelioma from his use of automobile brakes. Among the 16 defendants sued were Ford, Pneumo Abex and Pep Boys. On August 7, 2019, jury selection began with Ford and Pep Boys participating. Pneumo Abex did not participate in the process, but the superior court had not dismissed the plaintiff’s claims against it. On August 8, the plaintiff’s counsel informed the superior court that the claims against Pep Boys were essentially settled. Being the lone remaining defendant, Ford removed the case to federal court that same day on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiff filed an emergency motion to remand.

On August 9, the federal court conducted a telephonic hearing on the motion and Ford’s opposition. The plaintiff argued that the removal was procedurally improper because Pep Boys had not been dismissed at the time the notice of removal was filed, meaning the local defendant rule was violated. Furthermore, Ford did not obtain consent to the removal from all defendants. Ford argued that the plaintiff voluntarily discontinued his claims against Pep Boys and the other defendants. The court disagreed, finding that the plaintiff neither discontinued nor abandoned his claims against the other defendants. Since Pep Boys was a local defendant, removal was improper and the case was remanded to state court.

Read the case decision here.