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In re Crystal Power Company: "Defendant" Means Defendant

The statute creating removal jurisdiction allows a "Defendant" to remove a claim to federal court. But what about an intervenor who later has claims asserted against it? Isn't that kind of like being a defendant?

Maybe, but that's not good enough. The Fifth Circuit released In re Crystal Power Company, Ltd. on Monday March 21st, granting mandamus relief to address the district court's refusal to grant a motion to remand such a case. Judge Higginbotham  wrote the court's opinion.

The court found the intervenor's status indistinguishable from that of a state court plaintiff who later tries to remove federal counterclaims -- a procedural posture that the Supreme Court refused to allow 70 years ago in Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets. Judge Higginbotham wrote:

Although this case involves a cross-claim rather than a counter-claim, the answer is the same. The controlling legal principle from Shamrock is that “the plaintiff, having submitted himself to the jurisdiction of the state court, [is] not entitled to avail himself of a right of removal conferred only on a defendant who has not submitted himself to the jurisdiction.” If the [intervenor] wished for a federal forum, it was required to pursue a separate action in federal court. Having chosen to intervene as a plaintiff in state court, the firm forfeited its right to removal.

Congress meant what it said and said what it meant. "Defendant" means Defendant, one hundred percent.

Copyright © 2021, Hunton Andrews Kurth LLP. All Rights Reserved.National Law Review, Volume I, Number 84
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About this Author

Kendall M. Gray, Antitrust Litigation Attorney, Andrews Kurth Law Firm
Partner

Kendall is a board certified civil appellate specialist who has represented clients in state and federal appellate courts such as the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Courts of Appeal for the Fifth, Ninth, Tenth and Federal Circuits, the Supreme Court of Texas and many intermediate courts of appeal. His practice includes a variety of complex commercial, medical malpractice and toxic tort matters, as well as a particular focus in disputes involving employee benefits, managed care and ERISA. The disputes commonly require complex written and oral advocacy on such topics as ERISA preemption,...

713-220-3981
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