United States District Court, D. South Carolina, Charleston Division
OLD MILL, LLC; HIGH SEAS PROPERTIES, INC.; SALT GRASS INVESTMENTS, LLC; NELLE PROPERTIES, LLC; CROSBY RENTAL PROPERITES, LLC; LATITUDE 33 INVESTMANTS, LLC; JRC ROAD PROPERTIES, LLC; C LEVEL INVESTMENTS, LLC; AND LABAN CHAPPELL AND RYAN CONDON, individually. Plaintiffs,
AMERICAN RESOURCES INSURANCE COMPANY, INC.; WESTLEY RHOTEN; BLAIR R. MONROE; EASY COIN LAUNDRY, INC., d/b/a WASH WORLD; YESTERNIGHT DISTILLERY, LLC, f/k/a MOONLIGHT DISTILLERY, LLC, f/k/a TWISTED SHINE DISTILLERY, LLC, Defendants.
C. NORTON, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on defendant American Resources
Insurance Company, Inc.'s (“American
Resources”) motion for relief from judgment or order,
ECF No. 24. For the reasons discussed below, the court
denies the motion.
brought this action on May 28, 2019 in the Charleston County
Court of Common Pleas, seeking a declaratory judgment and
alleging bad faith and breach of contract arising out of
American Resources's failure to defend them in underlying
lawsuits borne out of the thousand-year flood that struck
South Carolina's midlands in 2015. ECF No. 1-1.
Plaintiffs brought suit against their insurer, American
Resources. Strangely, plaintiffs also named as defendants in
this action the plaintiffs in the underlying suits on which
their claims against American Resources are based.
29, 2019, American Resources removed the matter to this
court. ECF No. 1. Two days later, American Resources filed a
motion to realign, asking the court to realign the parties
such that all the named defendants that are plaintiffs in the
underlying lawsuits would be realigned as plaintiffs in this
suit, leaving American Resources as the sole defendant. ECF
No. 4. If the court granted its motion to realign, American
Resources argued, removal would be appropriate based on
diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332. The
parties consented, and the court granted the motion on August
30, 2019. ECF No. 11.
September 4, 2019, after the court realigned the parties,
plaintiff Wesley Rhoten (“Rhoten”) filed a motion
to remand the matter to state court, arguing that the court
lacked jurisdiction on two grounds: first, the claims lacked
complete diversity of citizenship as required by 28 U.S.C.
§ 1332, and second, all the defendants failed to
properly consent to removal as required by 28 U.S.C. §
1446(b)(2)(A). ECF No. 14. American Resources failed to
respond to the motion to remand within 14 days, as required
by Local Civ. Rule 7.02 (D.S.C.). Therefore, on September 24,
the court granted Rhoten's motion and remanded the matter
to state court. ECF No. 21. The same day, American Resources
filed the instant motion for relief from the court's
order remanding the case to state court (the “Remand
Order”). ECF No. 24.
Resources argues that the court should reconsider its Remand
Order and alter it to retain jurisdiction over the case.
Remand was inappropriate, it argues, because the realignment
of the parties cured any jurisdictional defects that would
have necessitated remand. However, American Resources fails
to show that the court has jurisdiction over the matter after
remanding it to state court. Because federal law proscribes
reconsideration of a motion to remand under these
circumstances, the court is without jurisdiction to
reconsider its Remand Order and must deny the motion.
U.S.C. § 1447(c) states:
An order remanding a case to the State court from which it
was removed is not reviewable on appeal or otherwise, except
that an order remanding a case to the State court from which
it was removed pursuant to section 1442 or 1443 of this title
shall be reviewable by appeal or otherwise.
Fourth Circuit has stated that an order of remand divests a
district court with all jurisdiction and precludes it from
entertaining any further proceedings of any character.
Three J Farms, Inc. v. Alton Box Bd. Co., 609 F.2d
112, 115 (4th Cir. 1979). “The prohibition against
further consideration of [a] remand order is found in the
plain language of 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d), which commands
that an order ‘remanding a case to the State court from
which it was removed is not reviewable on appeal Or otherwise
. . . .” (emphasis in original). Id.
Supreme Court recognized this limitation as it applies to
appellate court jurisdiction in Gravitt v. Southwestern
Bell Tel. Co., 430 U.S. 723 (1977) (holding that a court
of appeals does not have jurisdiction to consider an appeal
from an order to remand where that order is based on the
district court's lack of jurisdiction). Following the
logic of that case, the Fourth Circuit found that “[28
U.S.C. § 1447(d)] not only forecloses appellate review,
but also bars reconsideration of such an order by the
district court.” Three J Farms, Inc. v. Alton Box
Bd. Co., 609 F.2d at 115 (4th Cir. 1979).
court granted Rhoten's motion after American Resources
failed to respond within 14 days of its filing, as required
by Local Civ. Rule 7.02 (D.S.C.), and remanded the matter to
state court on jurisdictional grounds. Now, American
Resources asks the court to amend that Remand Order and
retain jurisdiction over the lawsuit. American Resources has
not provided the court with any reason for its failure to
respond to the motion to remand. Instead, it merely argues
that remand was inappropriate. Moreover, American Resources
has failed to demonstrate that the court has jurisdiction to
modify the Remand Order. Applying the above law, it is clear
that the court is without jurisdiction to reconsider or amend
its Remand Order.
right to remove a case from state to federal court is not
inherent or constitutional but derives solely from 28 U.S.C.
§ 1441 and is expressly constrained by subsequent
sections of the U.S. Code. Because removal jurisdiction
raises significant federalism concerns, the court strictly
construes it in favor of state court retention. Shamrock
Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100 (1941). It
is clear that a defendant may divest the court of removal
jurisdiction through its own actions. By ...