United States District Court, N.D. Illinois, Eastern Division
June 16, 2004.
CHRISTINE E. SADORF, MICHAEL MALANIUK, and EUGENE MALANIUK, Plaintiffs,
RICHARD F. VALDEZ and CALEDONIA HAULERS, INC., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: JOHN W. DARRAH, District Judge
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER
Plaintiffs filed suit against Defendants, Richard F. Valdez and
Caledonia Haulers, Inc., in the Circuit Court of Cook County,
Illinois. Defendants removed the action to federal court based on
the addition of federal claims in Plaintiffs' First Amended
Complaint. Presently before the Court is Plaintiffs' Motion to
Plaintiffs' Complaint, First Amended Complaint, and Defendants'
Notice of Removal support the following summary of the alleged
conduct of the parties.
On April 20, 2003, Christine Sadorf was a passenger in a
vehicle operated by Michael Malaniuk and owned by Eugene
Malaniuk. That same day, Richard Valdez was operating a truck as
an employee of Caledonia Haulers, Inc. A collision occurred
between Malaniuk the truck driven by Valdez. On May 5, 2003, Plaintiffs filed suit in the Circuit Court of
Cook County, alleging two counts of negligence against the
Defendants. On January 21, 2004, Plaintiffs filed a motion for
leave to file its First Amended Complaint in the Circuit Court of
Cook County. On January 29, 2004, Plaintiffs were granted leave
to file their First Amended Complaint.
Plaintiffs' First Amended Complaint was filed in the Circuit
Court of Cook County on January 29, 2004. The First Amended
Complaint included the original negligence counts and added new
counts of negligent and willful and wanton entrustment and
retention of Valdez against Caledonia.
On February 27, 2004, Defendants filed a Notice of Removal,
removing the suit to this Court. Defendants removed the action
based upon the new allegations of negligent and willful and
wanton entrustment as these new allegations arose under the
purview of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Act ("FMCSA") and
Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations ("FMCSR") which address
driver qualifications, vehicle inspection, and vehicle
Plaintiffs argue that Defendants filed their Notice of Removal
after the required thirty-day period because the Defendants
received notice that the action potentially involved the FMCSA
when the original Complaint was filed or when the Plaintiffs
requested discovery materials, including truck maintenance
records and the log and personnel records of Valdez, or, at the
latest, when the motion for leave to file the amended complaint
was filed because it included a copy of the First Amended
Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b),
If the case stated by the initial pleading is not
removable, a notice of removal may be filed within
thirty days after receipt by the defendant, through
service or otherwise, of a copy of an amended
pleading, motion, order or other paper from which it may first
be ascertained that the case is one which is or has
become removable. . . .
In a situation in which the original complaint does not
disclose a ground for removal but an amended complaint does so,
the thirty-day period does not begin to run until the state court
grants leave for the amended complaint to be filed. See Sullivan
v. Conway, 157 F.3d 1092
, 1094 (7th Cir. 1998) (Sullivan). If
the thirty-day period began to run by merely filing the motion
for leave to amend the complaint, a party would be attempting to
remove a case before such time as it is positive that a basis for
removal exists. A case is removable when the papers disclose that
the case is or has become removable, "not that it may sometime in
the future become removable if something happens," i.e., granting
leave to file an amended complaint. Sullivan, 157 F.3d at 1094.
In the instant case, Plaintiffs seek to require the Defendants
to have filed their Motion to Remand because Plaintiffs' suit
potentially involved the FMSCA. However, as stated above, a
case does not become removable because the suit may, at some
future time, become removable. See Sullivan, 157 F.3d at 1094.
Defendants filed their Notice of Removal within thirty days of
the state court's granting Plaintiffs leave to file their First
Amended Complaint. Accordingly, the Notice of Removal was timely
Plaintiffs also argue that remand is proper because their
negligent entrustment claims are not preempted by federal law;
therefore, this Court does not have jurisdiction. Defendants
argue that Plaintiffs' negligent entrustment claims are
completely preempted by the FMCSA and FMCSR or are preempted
because they would conflict with, interfere with, and seriously
compromise the FMCSR.
State laws regarding the same subject matter as statutes
enacted by Congress may be preempted by express statutory terms. Jones v. Rath Packing
Co., 430 U.S. 519, 525 (1977) (Jones). If the federal statute
does not contain express preemptive language, Congress's intent
to preempt all state law in a particular area may be inferred
where the scheme of federal regulation is sufficiently complete
to reasonably support the inference that Congress left no room
for supplemental state regulation. See Hillsborough County v.
Automated Med. Lab., Inc., 471 U.S. 707, 713 (1985)
A state law may also be preempted to the extent it actually
conflicts with federal law such that compliance with both the
federal and state law is impossible or when the state law
conflicts with the purposes and objectives of Congress when
enacting the federal law. See Hillsborough, 471 U.S. at 713;
Florida Lime & Avocado Growers, Inc., 373 U.S. 132, 142-43
(1963); Hines v. Davidowitz, 312 U.S. 52, 67 (1941). This
requires the federal court to "consider the relationship between
the state and federal laws as they are interpreted and applied,
not merely as they are written." Jones, 430 U.S. at 526.
The FMCSRs are derived from primarily two statutes,
49 U.S.C. § 3102(b)(1) directs that "[t]he Secretary of Transportation may
prescribe requirements for . . . qualifications . . . of
employees of, and safety of operation and equipment of, a motor
carrier. . . ." and the Secretary of Transportation is also
authorized to promulgate regulations by the Motor Carrier Safety
Act of 1984. In that Act, Congress directed the Secretary of
Transportation to establish minimum federal safety standards for
commercial motor vehicles and their operators. See
49 U.S.C. § 2505.
These statutes do not expressly preempt state law. Nor do they
evince an intent to occupy the field completely. See
49 U.S.C. § 31141(f)(4) (providing that the remedies "are in addition to
other remedies provided by law"); Specialized Carriers & Rigging
Ass'n v. Virginia, 795 F.2d 1152, 1155 (4th Cir. 1986); North Carolina Motorcoach Assoc. v.
Guilford County Bd. of Educ., ___ F. Supp.2d ___ (2004 WL
902285 (M.D.N.C. April 27, 2004)); Yellow Freight Sys., Inc. v.
Amestoy, 736 F. Supp. 44, 47 (D. Vt. 1990) (collectively,
finding no express or "complete" preemption by FMCSA/FMCSR).
Defendants also argue that Plaintiffs' negligent entrustment
claims are preempted because, to the extent they are accepted by
a factfinder, they would conflict with, interfere with, and
seriously compromise the FMCSR, under which Valdez was classified
as a qualified driver. Defendants identify numerous federal
regulations that relate to a person's qualifications as a motor
carrier driver and the requirements of the employer to inquire
and document numerous aspects of the motor carrier driver's
performance. Defendants contend that a jury's finding of
negligent entrustment or negligent hiring would conflict with
federal regulations if the Defendants complied with the
applicable federal regulations. However, Defendants' contention
that they fully complied with applicable federal regulations does
not turn the negligent claims into federal claims. Instead, they
are defenses to Plaintiffs' negligence claims. Federal question
jurisdiction cannot be based on an anticipated defense that is
federal in nature. See Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams,
482 U.S. 386, 393 (1987); Louisville & Nashville Ry Co. v. Mottley,
211 U.S. 149, 152 (1908). Accordingly, the federal regulations relied
upon by the Defendants do not preempt Plaintiffs' negligence
claims; and no federal question jurisdiction exists. See Fleming
Co. v. Better Foods Dist., Inc., 2002 WL 31498990 (E.D. Pa. Nov.
5, 2002) (defendant's assertion of compliance with FMCSR amounts
to defense to plaintiff's negligence claim and cannot establish
federal question jurisdiction). Furthermore, Defendants' Notice
of Removal relies solely on federal question jurisdiction; and the existence of diversity
jurisdiction is not apparent in the pleadings before the Court.
For the foregoing reasons, jurisdiction does not lie in this
Court; and Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand is granted.
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