Rawls et al v. Union Pacific Railroad et al
ORDER denying 234 Motion for Attorney Fees. Signed by Honorable Susan O. Hickey on August 27, 2012. (cnn)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
WESTERN DISTRICT OF ARKANSAS
EL DORADO DIVISION
CODY RAWLS, et al.,
CASE NO. 1:09-CV-01037
UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD, et al.,
Before the Court is Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs. (ECF No. 234).
Defendants have responded. (ECF No. 235). The matter is ripe for the Court’s consideration. For
the following reasons, the motion will be denied.
Defendants removed this negligence case from Columbia County Circuit Court in August
2009. Defendants argued that the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, 49 U.S.C.
§ 10501 et seq., completely preempted some of Plaintiffs’ claims, and thus allowed this Court to
hear the case. Plaintiffs asked the Court to remand the case, and the Court denied that request in
March 2010 because it found Defendants’ complete-preemption argument compelling. (ECF No.
15). In July 2012, the Court found it necessary to revisit the issue, and concluded that it did not,
in fact, have jurisdiction over the case. (ECF No. 233). Now Plaintiffs ask for an order awarding
them attorneys’ fees under 28 U.S.C. §1447(c) because, according to them, Defendants had no
objectively reasonable basis for removal. The Court does not agree.
28 U.S.C. 1447(c) states that “[a]n order remanding a case may require payment of just
costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal.”
However, “[a]bsent unusual circumstances, courts may award attorney’s fees under § 1447(c)
only where the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal.”
Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141 (2005). Courts should not award fees
where removal was supported by an objectively reasonable basis. Id. The objectively-reasonablebasis standard balances the deterrence of abusive removals with the protection of the right to
legitimate removal. Micometl Corp. v. Tranzact Tech., Inc., 656 F.3d 467, 470 (7th Cir. 2011)
(citing Martin, 546 U.S. at 140).
Applying the objectively-reasonable-basis standard, the Court finds attorney’s fees
unwarranted. There was no controlling Supreme Court or Eighth Circuit law foreclosing
Defendants’ removal argument at the time of removal. See Missouri ex rel. Carnahan v. Stifel,
Nicolaus & Co., 648 F. Supp. 2d 1095, 1099 (E.D. Mo. 2009) (ordering attorney’s fees where
“Supreme Court rejected removing defendants’ interpretation of the [statute].”). Rather,
Defendants’ argument was a first-impression issue for this Court. See Asplund v. iPCS Wireless,
Inc., 602 F. Supp. 2d 1005, 1012 (N.D. Iowa 2008) (denying attorney’s fees where firstimpression issues underlay removal argument). Nor does the Court find that Defendants’
removal was motivated by delays or cost-driving.
Accordingly, Plaintiffs’ Motion for Attorney’s Fees and Costs (ECF No. 234) should be
and hereby is DENIED.
IT IS SO ORDERED, this 27th day of August, 2012.
/s/ Susan O. Hickey
Hon. Susan O. Hickey
United States District Judge
Disclaimer: Justia Dockets & Filings provides public litigation records from the federal appellate and district courts. These filings and docket sheets should not be considered findings of fact or liability, nor do they necessarily reflect the view of Justia.
Why Is My Information Online?