UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE NORTHERN DISTRICT OF ILLINOIS, EASTERN DIVISION
June 23, 1998
LOYOLA MEDICAL PRACTICE PLAN, Plaintiff,
PATTI A. TROMICZAK, Defendant, PATTI A. TROMICZAK, Third-Party Plaintiff, v. GENERAL AMERICAN LIFE INSURANCE, Third-Party Defendant.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: SHADUR
But 28 U.S.C. § 1441(c)
permits removal only "by the defendant or the defendants," and General American's Notice is fatally flawed in that respect. Even if General American had "defendant" status for that purpose (which it does not, as will be made clear in an instant), Tromiczak's non-joinder in the Notice dooms it--as our Court of Appeals has stated succinctly in Roe v. O'Donohue, 38 F.3d 298, 301 (7th Cir. 1994)(citing two century-old Supreme Court decisions among other cases adhering to this well-established doctrine):
A petition for removal fails unless all defendants join it.
That omission might perhaps be viewed as a non-jurisdictional defect requiring a timely motion to remand by Loyola rather than sua sponte actions by this Court (id.). But any such approach would be highly problematic in this situation, where Tromiczak herself had no right to remove the action (clearly no federal question jurisdiction under Section 1331 or diversity jurisdiction under Section 1332 is implicated as between Loyola and Tromiczak) and where the Notice was not initiated until months after she was initially brought into the lawsuit.
More fundamentally, it has long been settled that third-party defendants such as General American cannot remove actions on their own ( Thomas v. Shelton, 740 F.2d 478, 486-87 (7th Cir. 1984)). And the "separate and independent claim or cause of action" provision of Section 1441(c) on which General American seeks to rely in part (Notice P6)--perhaps in an effort to escape the vise of nonremovability clamped on it by cases such as Thomas --does not help it either. As the recent total revision of Moore's Federal Practice (3rd ed. 1998)("Moore's") states (16 Moore's § 107.11[c], at 107-31):
The better view, consistent with the principle that removal jurisdiction is to be strictly construed, is that third-party claims are not removable, because only a party defending against claims asserted by a plaintiff ought to be able to remove. If the original defendant had no right to remove, or chose not to, an ancillary defendant should not be permitted to remove, absent express statutory authority. As in the case of counterclaims and cross-claims, third-party defendants are not defendants within the meaning of the removal statute (subject to the caveats discussed in [a] above).
Accordingly, it is an understatement to say that "it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction" (Section 1447(c)). As mandated by that statute, this action is sua sponte remanded to the Circuit Court of Cook County, Municipal Division. And as is permitted by this District Court's General Rule 30(B), the Clerk of Court is ordered to mail the certified copy of the remand order forthwith.
Milton I. Shadur
Senior United States District Judge
Date: June 23, 1998