Occasionally we have to advise a client that their case—that we filed in state court somewhere in the U.S.—was removed to federal court by one of the defendants that was sued. This removal process is somewhat common, more so probably in cases involving defective drugs and medical devices.
What is Removal?
As the video explains, removal law is the process by which one removes a case from state court to federal court, so that the federal court is the one that decides the issues at hand. Recall that the United States has two court systems, a state court system and a federal court system. Each system has trial courts, appeal courts, and a supreme court.
Removal means that an action filed by the plaintiff in the state court system may, under certain conditions, be transferred by the defendant to the federal court system. The case then proceeds within the federal system, meaning federal procedural rules will apply and a federal court judge and/or jury will hear the case.
Why are Cases Removed to Federal Court?
In order for a personal injury case to be pursued in state court, the party that you are suing has to be located in that state. For instance, if the party you are suing is General Motors, which is in Michigan, and you are a resident of Texas—then there is diversity of citizenship between you and the defendant. That case, in most circumstances, is probably one that should be in federal court. If a case against General Motors were filed in Texas state court, it might get removed by General Motors to federal court.
Oftentimes, defendants will remove cases to federal court when it is not warranted. Perhaps the defendant wants to delay the case. Perhaps they are hoping they will not have to face a state jury. Perhaps they think there is an issue regarding what is called fraudulent jointer. This happens when one of the parties that is being sued has been sued just to keep the case in state court, and therefore was fraudulently joined as a party—whereby the case should properly be in federal court and so they remove it.
What Does Remand Mean?
Remand means that a higher court sends back, or returns a case to the lower court. Our law firm will frequently file a motion to remand a case back to state court. If the federal court decides that the case was not one in which removal was appropriate, it will remand the case back to the state court. The process of removal and remand is quite time consuming, taking many months to complete. We have filed numerous motions to remand over the years. We do so when we believe the case and our client are better off being in a particular state court as opposed to a particular federal court.
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