Thursday, April 9, 2015

U.S. District Court holds insurer's removal to federal court untimely based on information in underlying complaint

Addison Automatics filed a lawsuit in Suffolk Superior Court seeking a declaration that defendant Netherland Insurance Company had a duty to defend and indemnify Precision Electronic Glass Company in a class action lawsuit.  In the underlying action Addison alleged that Precision violated the law by sending junk faxes. 

Netherlands removed the case to the United States District Court for the District of Massachusetts.  Addison filed a motion to remand the case to state court, contending that the removal was untimely because it was not done within 30 days of service of the complaint.  Netherlands asserted that it was not until a decision of the Superior Court on a motion to dismiss that it knew that the suit was a class action suit that could be removed.

In Addison Automatics, Inc. v. Netherlands Ins. Co., 2015 WL 461958 (D. Mass.), the court held that there was enough information in the initial complaint for the defendants to ascertain that it was a class action suit.  Among other things, it referred to the complaint in the underlying litigation, which was a class action.  The defendants could have determined from that that Addison was seeking relief not just for itself but as a representative of the class.