that 1991 lawsuit and has examined the rest of the bulky file in that case. It has become apparent during this morning's hearing that despite the quoted language, the earlier lawsuit (brought only against City and Garcia) did not assert any Section 1983 claim or other federally-based claim, so that it may be disregarded for present purposes.
To return to the first complicating factor, then, the procedural problems that it poses are indeed complex. It has long been universally held that, except for certain special-status parties (such as foreign states (Section 1441(d)) or federal officers (Section 1442)) on whom Congress has conferred the right of independent removal, the intended meaning of Section 1441(a) is that all defendants except for purely nominal parties must join in or consent in writing to a proposed removal (as tersely stated in Roe v. O'Donohue, 38 F.3d 298, 301, citing two century-old Supreme Court cases, "A petition for removal fails unless all defendants join it").
And when that rule is coupled with the equally well-established principle that the 30-day clock specified for removal in Section 1446(b) begins to tick when the first defendant is served and is not restarted by later service on other defendants (see, e.g., Scialo v. Scala Packing Co., 821 F. Supp. 1276, 1277-78 (N.D. Ill. 1993) and Davies v. Recreation Plantations, Inc., 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 10947, No. 94 C 4672, 1994 WL 419671, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 4) and 1994 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 11486, 1994 WL 449312, at *1 (N.D. Ill. Aug. 15)), the result can be troublesome: If a first-served party such as the state-claim-only defendant City is ruled unable to trigger removal on its own, that could allow a manipulative plaintiff to serve only such a non-federal-question defendant and then to wait more than 30 days to serve the other defendants, thus effectively blocking anyone's exercise of the opportunity to remove.
This Court's research has uncovered only a single case by another court dealing with a like situation--a case in which, confronted with the just-described knotty problem, a district judge emulated Alexander the Great by cutting the analytical Gordian knot instead of trying to undo its intricate convolutions. Hill v. City of Boston, 706 F. Supp. 966 (D. Mass. 1989) did that by the ipse dixit device of departing not only from the all-defendants-must-join rule and the first-defendant-served-begins-the-30-day-clock rule but also from the literal language of Section 1446(b).
Although by doing so Hill ended up with what might be considered the common-sense conclusion that the non-federal-defendant could not remove the case on its own, the path that it chose in reaching that conclusion is simply wrong. In at least one of its steps it does impermissible violence to a deeply-embedded principle that was established nearly a century ago in Chicago, R.I. & P. Ry. v. Martin, 178 U.S. 245, 248, 44 L. Ed. 1055, 20 S. Ct. 854 (1900) and that remains good law today. Understandably Hill's analysis has been persuasively rejected in such cases as Doe v. Kerwood, 969 F.2d 165, 167 (5th Cir. 1992) and Gibson v. Inhabitants of Town of Brunswick, 899 F. Supp. 720, 721 (D. Me. 1995). This Court is equally disinclined to depart so far from established principles to reach Hill's result.
But as chance would have it, this Court has itself dealt with the question posed here once before, albeit in a case that also involved the unexplained nonjoinder in the removal notice by the federal-question-targeted defendant. Although that last-mentioned deficiency would alone have required that the case be remanded, this Court also made the independent statement that a municipality in the same position as City here--one that was not sued in any federal claim, although its police officer was--could not file a valid notice of removal on its own ( Greene v. Hindes, 1993 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 16428, No. 93 C 6843, 1993 WL 489721, at *2 (N.D. Ill. Nov. 15)):
What controls here is that Village itself is not the target of any federal claim, and it therefore has no right to institute removal proceedings.