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Groh v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A.

United States District Court, W.D. Missouri, Western Division

October 1, 2014

SAM GROH, Plaintiff,
v.
JPMORGAN CHASE BANK, N.A., Defendant.

ORDER DENYING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND

GREG KAYS, Chief District Judge.

This case concerns allegations of false credit reporting. Plaintiff Sam Groh ("Groh") sued Defendant JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A. ("Chase Bank") in Missouri state court. Chase Bank removed to this Court in January; the Court remanded. Chase Bank has removed this case for a second time.

Pending before the Court is Groh's Motion to Remand (Doc. 10). Because the law has changed since Chase Bank's first removal, thereby permitting an ordinarily prohibited successive removal, and because Chase Bank's removal was timely, the motion is DENIED.

Procedural Background

In June 2013, Groh filed an eight-count petition in the Circuit Court of Jackson County, Missouri against J.P. Morgan Chase National Corporation Service, Inc. ("Chase Corporation Service") alleging that it failed to reduce his monthly payments on his home loan as required by the parties' loan workout plan. Further, Groh alleged that Chase Corporation Service falsely reported delinquent payments by Groh to various credit reporting agencies. Groh properly served process on Chase Corporation Service the next month.

Eventually, the parties came to realize that Chase Corporation Service was a non-existent entity. The correct name was J.P. Morgan Chase National Corporate Services, Inc. However, that entity, regardless of what Groh called it, was not the correct defendant. The proper defendant, Chase Bank, had not yet been served, so Groh moved the state court to amend his petition to change the defendant from Chase Corporation Service to Chase Bank. Chase Corporation Service opposed the motion generally, but agreed that Chase Bank was the appropriate defendant and that Chase Corporation Service should be dismissed. The state court issued an order granting Groh's motion on January 10, 2014.

Four days later, Chase Bank removed to this Court. Groh moved to remand. The Court held that because the state court's order simply substituted Chase Bank for Chase Corporation Service, service on Chase Corporation Service was effective for Chase Bank. Groh v. JPMorgan Chase Bank, N.A., No. 14-CV-40-W-DGK, 2014 WL 1687696 (W.D. Mo. Apr. 29, 2014) (" Groh I "). Because removal must occur thirty days after service and Chase Bank removed several months after Groh served Chase Corporation Service, Chase Bank's removal was untimely. The Court remanded back to the Circuit Court of Jackson County.

After remand, Chase Bank asked the state court to reconsider or clarify its earlier order intimating Chase Corporation Service's service could be imputed to Chase Bank. At oral argument on June 4, 2014, the state court decided that Groh had to serve Chase Bank in its own name: "I am going to clarify the order.... [T]he clarification on the earlier order is that the Court did not intend to indicate that the service on the original defendant served was appropriate or served legally as appropriate service on the bank.... I think you have to go back and serve the bank." (Doc. 13-2, at 9). The state court memorialized this ruling in an order issued the next day (Doc. 1-1, at 64).

Groh obtained a summons and served Chase Bank on June 18, 2014. Twelve days later, Chase Bank removed to this Court. The Court now takes up the pending motion to remand.

Standard

A defendant may remove an action where the case falls within the original jurisdiction of the district courts. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). However, there are time limits on how long a defendant may wait before removing the case. In particular, "[t]he notice of removal of a civil action or proceeding shall be filed within 30 days after the receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise, of a copy of the initial pleading setting forth the claim for relief upon which such action or proceeding is based." Id. § 1446(b)(1). If the defendant did not timely remove the case, then the district court must remand the case to the state court from which it was removed. Id. § 1447(c).

The burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party seeking removal. Altimore v. Mount Mercy Coll., 420 F.3d 763, 768 (8th Cir. 2005). When ruling upon a motion to remand, the Court resolves all doubts in favor of remand. Junk v. Terminix Int'l Co., 628 F.3d 439, 446 (8th Cir. 2010).

Discussion

I. Because the state court modified its original order, a change of law occurred sufficient for Chase ...


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