This Month in Snap Removal: The District of Nevada Muddies Its Snap Removal Waters and Throws Proponents a Life Preserver

Faegre Drinker’s snap removal team continuously monitors snap removal updates across the country (for a basic explanation of snap removal and previous updates, see Faegre Drinker’s prior posts here; for a breakdown on how each federal jurisdiction treats snap removal, see Faegre Drinker’s interactive snap removal map here).

The United States District Court for the District of Nevada is no stranger to consideration of the practice of snap removal—indeed, the District of Nevada has issued a number of decisions in 2020 and 2021, all holding that snap removal was improper unless and until at least one defendant has been served. But a recent opinion out of the District rejects the reasoning in those earlier decisions and holds that snap removal is proper even if no defendant has been served.

In Metlife Home Loans, LLC v. Fidelity Nat’l Title Grp., Inc., 2021 WL 4096540 (D. Nev. Sept. 8, 2021), the defendants—two of which were out-of-state defendants and one of which was a citizen of the forum—removed the case to federal court two days after the complaint was filed and before any defendant was served. Plaintiff, in its motion to remand, predictably emphasized the reasoning adopted in prior District of Nevada decisions—namely, that the word “any” in the forum-defendant rule (proscribing removal when “any of the parties in interest properly joined and served as defendants is a citizen of the State in which such action is brought” (emphasis added)) assumes that at least one defendant must be served before removal is proper.

The Metlife Home Loans Court declined to adopt that reasoning, instead holding that removal was proper under the “plain and unambiguous” language of § 1441(b). In reaching its conclusion, the Court considered and rejected the reasoning from a 2013 case in the District of Massachusetts that had formed the foundation for earlier decisions in the District of Nevada, Gentile v. Biogen IDEC, Inc., 934 F. Supp. 2d 313, 318 (D. Mass. 2013). The Gentile court interpreted section 1441(b) to include the “assum[ption] at least one party has been served; ignoring that assumption would render a court’s analysis under the exception nonsensical and that statute’s use of ‘any’ superfluous.” Id. at 318-19.

According to the Metlife Home Loans Court, however, Gentile’s (and the plaintiff’s) assumption “rewrites the removal statute” entirely to add a requirement that is not supported by an examination of the legislative history surrounding § 1441(b). 2021 WL 4096540 at * 4. Having considered and rejected such revision, the Court concluded, “the plain language of the statute allows snap removal.” Id. *5.

This new opinion supports the continued adoption of snap removal as soon as possible after a complaint is filed, without the need to wait for one non-forum defendant to be served. We’ve updated Faegre Drinker’s interactive snap removal map to reflect this development—for those details and other snap removal updates, visit www.faegredrinkeronsnap.com.