Williams v. Tunica County Arena & Exposition Center, Inc.
MEMORANDUM OPINION re 30 Order on Motion to Remand to State Court. Signed by Glen H. Davidson on 10/9/12. (tab)
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF MISSISSIPPI
CIVIL ACTION NO.2: ll-CV-00242-GHD-JMV
TUNICA COUNTY ARENA & EXPOSITION CENTER, INC.
MEMORANDUM OPINION GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART
PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
Presently before this Court is the Plaintiff's motion to remand the case to state court and
for assessment of costs and attorney's fees  brought pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). Upon
due consideration, the Court finds the motion should be granted in part and denied in part.
Plaintiff Andre Williams ("Plaintiff') initiated this action against Defendant Tunica
County Arena & Exposition Center, Inc. ("Defendant") in the Circuit Court of Tunica County,
Mississippi. Defendant brought in Third-Party Defendant Diamond State Insurance Company
("Diamond State"). Diamond State then filed a timely notice of removal based on diversity of
citizenship. Plaintiff has now filed a motion seeking remand of the case to state court and
assessment of costs and attorney's fees incurred as a result of the removal, contending the case
was improperly removed by a third-party defendant, which is not a "defendant" as contemplated
under the removal statute. Diamond State joins in the request for removal of the action to state
court, conceding that removal was improper, but argues that an award of attorney's fees would
not be proper, as Diamond State sought removal based on honest mistake and did not lack an
objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal.
The removal statute provides in pertinent part:
Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any
civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of
the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by
the defendant or the defendants, to the district court of the United
States for the district and division embracing the place where such
action is pending.
28 U.S.c. § 1441(a). A case may be remanded upon a motion filed within thirty days after the
notice of removal is filed on any defect except subject matter jurisdiction, which can be raised at
any time by any party or sua sponte by the court. See Wachovia Bank, NA. v. PICC Prop. &
Cas. Co. Ltd., 328 F. App'x 946, 947 (5th Cir. 2009). "If at any time before final judgment it
appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28
U.S.C. § 1447(c). Third-party defendants generally may not remove a case, as they are not
"defendants" as contemplated by the removal statute. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets,
313 U.S. 100,61 S. Ct. 868, 85 L. Ed. 1214 (1941); Wachovia Bank, NA. v. PICC Prop. & Cas.
Co. Ltd., 328 F. App'x 946, 948 (5th Cir. 2009); Palisades Collections LLC v. Shorts, 552 F.3d
327,332-33 (4th Cir. 2008); First Nat'l Bank ofPulaski v. Curry, 301 F.3d 456,461-63 (6th Cir.
2002); 16 JAMES WM. MOORE ET AL., MOORE'S FEDERAL PRACTICE § 107.1 1[b][iv] (3d ed.
2000) ("[T]hird-party defendants are not defendants within the meaning of the removal statute ..
"[T]he standard for awarding fees should tum on the reasonableness of the removal.
Absent unusual circumstances, courts may award attorney's fees under [Section] 1447(c) only
where the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal.
Conversely, when an objectively reasonable basis exists, fees should be denied." Martin v.
Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141, 126 S. Ct. 704, 163 L. Ed. 2d 547 (2005).
This Court finds that this action was improperly removed by Diamond State, a third-party
defendant, and accordingly, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction to hear the case. Thus,
remand is proper under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The Court further finds that Plaintiffs request for
attorney's fees should be denied; the removal was due to Diamond State's mistake, but not to a
lack of an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal. Additionally, the Court finds no
unusual circumstances present in this case that would make the award of attorney's fees proper.
THEREFORE, Plaintiffs motion to remand the case to state court and for assessment of
costs and attorney's fees  shall be granted in part and denied in part: the action shall be
remanded to the Circuit Court of Tunica County, Mississippi, and the request for assessment of
costs and an award of attorney's fees shall be denied.
A separate order in accordance with this opinion shall issue this day.
d ay of October, 2012.
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