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Jordan v. Nationstar Mortgage LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit

April 1, 2015

LAURA ZAMORA JORDAN, as her separate estate, and on behalf of others similarly situated, Plaintiff-Appellee,
v.
NATIONSTAR MORTGAGE LLC, Defendant-Appellant

Argued and Submitted, San Francisco, California: March 9, 2015.

Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington. D.C. No. 2:14-cv-00175-TOR. D.C. No. 2:14-cv-00175-TOR. Thomas O. Rice, District Judge, Presiding.

SUMMARY[*]

Class Action Fairness Act / Removal

The panel reversed the district court's order remanding the class action proceeding to state court on the basis that the removal was untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b).

Defendant Nationstar Mortgage LLC removed the case within thirty days of ascertaining removability under the Class Action Fairness Act (" CAFA" ), but more than two years after the case became removable on federal question grounds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

The panel held that a case becomes removable for purposes of 28 U.S.C. § 1446 when the CAFA ground for removal is first disclosed. The panel held that a defendant may remove a case from state court within thirty days of ascertaining that the action is removable under CAFA, even if an earlier pleading, document, motion, order, or other paper revealed an alternative basis for federal jurisdiction. The panel concluded that Nationstar's removal under CAFA was timely, and that the action therefore properly belonged in federal court. Finally, because the removal under CAFA was timely, the panel reversed the district court's award of attorneys' fees to the plaintiff that was premised on improper removal under 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

Jan T. Chilton (argued), Severson & Werson PC, San Francisco, California; John A. Knox, Williams, Kastner & Gibbs PLLC, Seattle, Washington, for Defendant-Appellant.

Clay M. Gatens (argued), Jeffers, Danielson, Sonn & Aylward, P.S., Wenatchee, Washington; Michael D. Daudt, Terrell Marshall Daudt & Willie PLLC, Seattle, Washington, for Plaintiff-Appellee.

Before: J. Clifford Wallace, Milan D. Smith, Jr., and Paul J. Watford, Circuit Judges. Opinion by Judge Milan D. Smith, Jr.

OPINION

Page 1179

M. SMITH, Circuit Judge:

Defendant-Appellant Nationstar Mortgage LLC (Nationstar) appeals from the district court's order granting Plaintiff-Appellee Laura Zamora Jordan's (Jordan) motion to remand this class action proceeding to state court because its removal was untimely under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b). Section 1446(b)(1) permits defendants to remove state-court actions to federal court within thirty days of receiving an initial pleading or other document that reveals a basis for removal. However, if the initial pleading does not provide a basis for removal, a defendant may remove an action within thirty days of receiving " an amended pleading, motion, order, or other paper" from which it may first be ascertained that the case is removable. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3). Nationstar removed the case within thirty days of ascertaining removability under the Class Action Fairness Act (CAFA), 28 U.S.C. § § 1332, 1453, but more than two years after the case became removable on federal question grounds pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1331.

Nationstar urges us to extend to the CAFA context the logic of our decision in Durham v. Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1253 (9th Cir. 2006), which held that the thirty-day removal clock is reset when a defendant discovers that a case is removable on federal officer grounds under 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1), even if the defendant was previously aware of a different basis for federal jurisdiction. In light of the Supreme Court's recent opinion in Dart Cherokee Basin Operating Co., LLC v. Owens, 135 S.Ct. 547, 190 L.Ed.2d 495 (2014), and mindful of Congress's intent to " strongly favor the exercise of federal ...


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