New Law Brings Significant Changes to Removal, Federal Jurisdiction, and Venue

Litigation Alert

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As 2011 drew to a close, President Obama quietly signed into law a significant rewriting of the federal jurisdiction and venue statutes. The Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Venue Clarification Act of 2011 (the “JVCA”), which passed Congress unanimously, took effect on January 6, 2012. Most notably for businesses that face litigation in state courts, the JVCA significantly affects how and when defendants can remove those cases to federal court:

Removal timing in cases with multiple defendants. In cases involving multiple defendants, the federal circuits had been split on when the clock started on the 30-day deadline for removal. Some circuits began counting the 30 days when the first defendant was served (or otherwise received the initial pleading), while other circuits allowed removal for 30 days after the last defendant was served. Under the JVCA, each defendant has 30 days from service to remove the case, regardless of when the other defendants were served. If an earlier-served defendant misses the deadline, it may still consent to a later-served defendant’s removing the case (though the earlier-served defendant may not itself remove the case). The JVCA also codifies the longstanding judge-made rule that all defendants must consent to removal.

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