Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Changes to Federal Jurisdiction and Venue Statutes

As described by Greenberg Traurig, the Federal Courts Jurisdiction and Clarification Act of 2011 goes into effect on January 6, 2012, making several significant changes to federal law related to removal and venue.

One important addition to 28 U.S.C. Section 1446 is a provision explaining how removal is accomplished when an action has multiple defendants.  The change resolves some inter-circuit variation on that point in favor of a rule allowing each defendant 30 days from its date of service to file a notice of removal, and then further allowing earlier-served defendants to join in or consent to any previous removal.  (For a 4th Circuit discussion of this topic, see Barbour v. International Union).  Similarly, the law codifies the the "rule of unanimity" requiring all defendants to consent to removal.

The law also makes significant changes to the "amount in controversy" provisions applicable to removal, and revises the general federal venue statute.