United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Western Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION SUPPLEMENTING ORDER DENYING MOTION
ZOUHARY, U.S. DISTRICT JUDGE.
April 2019, Defendant Navistar, Inc., removed this case from
Ohio state court, following dismissal of the only non-diverse
defendant (Doc. 1). Plaintiffs Keller Logistics Group, Inc.,
Thomas Keller Leasing Company, Inc., and Thomas Keller
Trucking, Inc., move to remand (Doc. 4), citing the one-year
limit for removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c). Navistar
opposes (Doc. 11). This Court heard argument at a Record
Hearing (Doc. 16) and denied the Motion to Remand in an
earlier Order (Doc. 17). This Opinion follows.
are Ohio corporations that own, operate, and lease a fleet of
commercial trucks (Doc. 1-3 at 2-3). Navistar -- a Delaware
corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois
-- manufactures commercial trucks (Docs. 1 at 2; 1-3 at 3).
Navistar distributes its trucks through authorized dealers
like Defiance Truck Sales & Service, Inc. (the Dealer),
which is based in Ohio (Doc. 1-3 at 2-3).
and 2012, Plaintiffs purchased or leased sixty-five Navistar
trucks from the Dealer (id. at 4-5). The trucks allegedly
began to break down shortly afterward (id. at 5). In 2015,
Plaintiffs sued Navistar and the Dealer in Ohio state court
(Doc. 11 at 7). Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the suit
later in 2015 and refiled against the same defendants in 2016
(id.). Over the next two years and four months in
state court, the case endured a motion for judgment on the
pleadings, discovery, and a motion for summary judgment
(Docs. 1 at 1-2; 4-1 at 5-7).
March 2019, as the summary judgment motion was pending in
state court, Plaintiffs voluntarily dismissed the Dealer,
leaving Navistar as the only defendant (Docs. 1 at 2; 11 at
7). Navistar removed, citing this Court's diversity
jurisdiction (Doc. 1 at 2). Plaintiffs move to remand (Doc.
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction.”
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), federal
courts have jurisdiction over civil cases in which the amount
in controversy exceeds $75, 000 and the parties are
completely diverse. This diversity jurisdiction is designed
“to protect out-of-state parties from the potential
risk that local juries (or judges) would favor in-state
parties.” Roberts v. Mars Petcare US, Inc.,
874 F.3d 953, 956 (6th Cir. 2017).
§ 1332 allows plaintiffs to invoke the federal
courts' diversity jurisdiction, § 1441 gives
defendants a corresponding opportunity.” Lincoln
Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 89 (2005). So long as
the federal court has jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)
allows civil defendants to remove actions from state court to
federal court. Where a defendant seeks to remove a case on
the basis of diversity jurisdiction, the
amount-in-controversy and complete-diversity conditions must
exist at the time of removal. Williamson v. Aetna Life
Ins. Co., 481 F.3d 369, 375 (6th Cir. 2007). If these
conditions are not initially met but are later satisfied, a
defendant may remove “within 30 days” of
receiving notice that the case “has become
removable.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3). Such removal,
however, typically cannot occur “more than 1 year after
commencement of the action.” Id. §
this case was not removable until March 2019, when Plaintiffs
dismissed the Ohio-based Dealer. Navistar removed within
thirty days. But because the case began in 2016 and removal
did not occur until 2019, Navistar was far past the one-year
limit for removal.
removal statute, however, contains an exception to the
one-year limit. A defendant may remove a case beyond one year
if “the district court finds that the plaintiff has
acted in bad faith in order to prevent a defendant from
removing the action.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(1).
Navistar argues this exception applies here. Navistar
specifically contends Plaintiffs joined the Dealer and kept
it in the case beyond one year “for the sole and
express purpose of avoiding federal jurisdiction” (Doc.
11 at 5).
added the bad-faith exception to the removal statute in 2011
as part of the Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act. Pub.
L. No. 112-63, 125 Stat 758 (2011). District courts within
the Sixth Circuit agree the bad-faith inquiry is
“whether the plaintiff engaged in intentional conduct
to deny the defendant the chance to remove the case to
federal court.” Comer v. Schmitt, 2015 WL
5954589, at *2 (S.D. Ohio 2015), report and recommendation
adopted, 2015 WL 7076634 (S.D. Ohio 2015). See also
Williams v. 3M Co., 2018 WL 3084710, at *3 (E.D. Ky.
2018); Dutchmaid Logistics, Inc. v. Navistar, Inc.,
2017 WL 1324610, at *2 (S.D. Ohio 2017), report and
recommendation adopted, 2017 WL ...