Segal McCambridge Attorneys Defeat Plaintiff's Motion to Remand Transportation Personal Injury Case


January 26, 2012

An Indiana federal district court denied a plaintiff's motion to remand Tuesday, rejecting his argument that the defendants' motion to remove the case to federal court had not been filed in a timely manner.

A party may move to remove a case to federal court when the case involves citizens of different states and the amount of the award sought exceeds $75,000. The party has 30 days from the time it receives notice that the case is removeable to file its motion.

In this case, James Grauvogl v. Michael Roby and Royal Trucking Company, the initial complaint did not specify an amount for damages. (In Indiana, such a complaint may not specify a dollar amount.) The defendants initially made no motion to remove the case, and proceeded with discovery. In discovery, the plaintiff responded to an interrogatory with a long list of injuries and amounts of medical bills and property damage that made it clear the $75,000 "removeability" threshold would be reached. The day after they received the information, the defendants filed a motion to remove the case to federal court.

In seeking to counter this motion, the plaintiff argued that the original complaint contained enough information that the defendants should have been able to infer the amount of damages sought. Had that been the case, the 30-day window would have expired by the time the defendants removed the case. The Hon. William C. Lee of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana, Hammond Division, disagreed. He cited a previous case in which the initial complaint had contained detailed injury information that was still deemed by the court insufficient to set the start of the 30-day period. "Here, Defendants had no notice of the particular injuries," he reasoned, "no notice that Grauvogl received psychiatric and/or psychological injuries for which he sought damages, and no notice that Grauvogl had seen 13 physicians as a result of his injuries. All of this was disclosed as a result of the discovery undertaken by the Defendants."

Our clients were represented by Kathleen McDonough, Jill Felkins and Nancy Woodworth.