United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
ORDER AND REASONS
MARTIN L. C. FELDMAN, District Judge.
Before the Court is the plaintiff's motion to remand. For the reasons that follow, the motion is GRANTED.
This case is one of several originally filed in state court against various defendants for alleged violations of permits issued pursuant to the State and Local Coastal Resources Management Act of 1978. The defendants removed the case, and the Parish moves for remand. This Court stayed proceedings until another section of this Court resolved a motion to remand presenting substantially identical issues.
On December 1, 2014, Judge Zainey granted remand in a thorough order and reasons. See Parish of Plaquemines v. Total Petrochemical & Refining USA, Inc., No. 13-6693, 2014 WL 6750649 (E.D. La. Dec. 1, 2014). Judge Zainey found that the Court did not have jurisdiction based on diversity, the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act, admiralty, or any federal question. Shortly thereafter and relying on Judge Zainey's order and reasons, Judge Africk also granted remand in the case before his section. See Plaquemines Parish v. Rozel Operating Co., et al., No. 13-6722 (E.D. La. Jan. 29, 2015). Last month Judge Lemelle remanded his four cases for substantially the same reasons. See, e.g., Jefferson Parish v. Anadarko E&P Onshore LLC, et al., No. 13-6701 (E.D. La. Mar. 9, 2015). This Court assumes familiarity with those opinions.
Here, the Parish asserts permit-violation claims relating to a different geographic area. Although different areas and permits are involved, the cases are functionally indistinguishable. It is enough to note that at least one defendant is a citizen of Louisiana; the conduct that allegedly violated the permits occurred within Plaquemines Parish and not on the outer continental shelf; and the Parish disclaims, at great length, any claims other than state-law permit violation claims.
In the Order granting the parties' joint motion to reopen this case, the Court "advise[d] that counsel should focus their arguments on why their cases are the same or distinguishable from those cases in which remand has already been granted in other Sections of Court." See Order dated 2/11/15. The Court noted Judge Africk's language in his Order and Reasons granting remand after Judge Zainey's decision:
The Court... notes that it does not write on a blank canvas with respect to these issues. The Court is persuaded by the thoughtful reason in Total [Judge Zainey's Case No. 13-6692] and sees little benefit in rehashing arguments that have been thoroughly aired and addressed. Accordingly, the Court will address the parties' arguments only to the extent that they assert errors in the Total opinion or raise arguments not briefed in that case.
Rozel, No. 13-6722, p. 3.
A defendant's right to remove is strictly statutory in nature. See Carpenter v. Wichita Falls Indep. Sch. Dist., 44 F.3d 362, 366 (5th Cir. 1995); Syngenta Corp. Production, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002) (citing Great N.R. Co. v. Alexander, 246 U.S. 276 U.S., 280 (1918) ("The right of removal is entirely a creature of statute.")). The general removal statute governing civil actions provides:
Except as otherwise expressly provided by Act of Congress, any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant or the defendants.
28 U.S.C.A. § 1441(a) (emphasis added). Per § 1441(a), a defendant may remove a state court action only if the action could have originally been filed in federal court. Aaron v. Nat'l Union Fire Ins. Co., 876 F.2d 1157, 1160 (5th Cir. 1989) (citing Caterpillar v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 391-92 (1987); 28 U.S.C. § 1441). Thus, the propriety of removal is keyed to the original jurisdiction of the federal district courts, and consideration of a motion to remand a case removed from state court presents issues of subject matter jurisdiction and statutory construction. Carpenter, 44 F.3d at 365-66 (citing Garrett v. Commonwealth Mort. Corp. of Am., 938 F.2d 591, 593 (5th Cir. 1991)). The burden of establishing subject matter jurisdiction rests with the ...