Overlooked in the Tort Reform Debate: The Growth of Erroneous Removal
31 Pages Posted: 9 Aug 2005
Disputes over forum often center on whether a case should proceed in state or federal court. Removal to federal court can trigger a costly forum struggle. When a state case is removed to federal court only to be sent back to state court, the time and resources incurred in the detour are a toll on the judicial system and waste parties' resources. We find erroneous removal to be an increasing problem. From 1993 to 2002, a period when state tort filings noticeably decreased, the number of removed diversity tort cases increased by about 10% to about 8,900 per year. By 2003, removed cases comprised over 30% of the federal diversity docket. The percentage of removals ultimately remanded to state court increased significantly to about 20% in 2003, with the remand rate exceeding 50% in some districts. Thus, as more cases purporting to satisfy diversity jurisdiction were being removed to federal court, and just as removals were occupying an increasing part of the federal docket, removed cases were being remanded to state court at increasing rates. Erroneous removal is a growing phenomenon that should be addressed as part of serious consideration of tort reform.
Keywords: Removal, remand, tort reform, litigation, procedure
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