Seventh Circuit: No Appellate Jurisdiction to Consider Nonfinal Orders Within a District Court's Order to Remand to State Court

August 14, 2014 4:01 PM | Anonymous member (Administrator)

Orders remanding a case to state court based on a lack of subject-matter jurisdiction are generally "not reviewable on appeal or otherwise." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d). An exception exists, though, when the order contains a separate, appealable ruling that happens to be within the same document as the remand order. Unfortunately for the defendant railroad company in Lindner v. Union Pacific Railroad Co., No. 13-1422 (7th Cir. Aug. 11, 2014), the remand order contained no such separate or appealable ruling to save appellate jurisdiction.

In Lindner, a Union Pacific train derailed while on an overpass near Glenview, Illinois, which caused the bridge to collapse. At that time, Illinois residents Burton and Zorine Lindner happened to be driving under the bridge and suffered fatal injuries as a result of the bridge collapse. The Lindners' son filed a wrongful-death action in state court alleging negligence on the part of Union Pacific, a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Nebraska.

Union Pacific removed the case to federal court based on diversity jurisdiction, and the case proceeded with discovery. Thereafter Lindner sought leave to amend his complaint to add negligence claims against two Union Pacific workers, who were both Illinois residents, and asked the district court to remand the case back to state court. The district court granted leave to amend, and because the amendment destroyed diversity, the court remanded to case to state court.

Union Pacific appealed, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit dismissed for lack of jurisdiction. Union Pacific recognized that § 1447(d) prevented the Seventh Circuit from reviewing the remand portion, but it argued instead that the court should review only the contemporaneous decision to allow Lindner to amend the complaint and to join the two Illinois defendants. 

The Seventh Circuit rejected Union Pacific's argument because there was no appealable order separate from the order to remand. The Seventh Circuit explained that its jurisdiction extended to "final orders" (28 U.S.C. § 1291), and because an order allowing a plaintiff to amend a complaint does not terminate the dispute or even grant or deny relief on a claim, it is not a final order subject to review. The Seventh Circuit also determined that the district court's decision was not a "collateral order," that is, a nonfinal order that would be effectively unreviewable if it could not be appealed immediately. The Seventh Circuit also rejected Union Pacific's alternative request for a writ of mandamus compelling the district court to deny Lindner's motion to amend the complaint. With no final order to review and no mandamus relief necessary or appropriate, the Seventh Circuit dismissed the appeal.

Recommended Citation: Stacey Mandell, Seventh Circuit: No Appellate Jurisdiction to Consider Nonfinal Orders Within a District Court's Order to Remand to State Court (August 14, 2014), http://applawyers-thebrief.blogspot.com/2014/08/seventh-circuit-no-appellate.html.

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