Seattle Team Establishes Precedent in Ninth Circuit Ruling

Seattle, Wash. (March 12, 2019) - In Anderson v. State Farm, 2019 U.S. App. LEXIS 6954 (decided 3-8-19), Seattle Partners Greg Worden and Donna Chamberlin established an insurer-favorable precedent in the Ninth Circuit in a published decision regarding the time an insurer has to remove a case to federal court. Ms. Chamberlin and Mr. Worden collaborated on the briefing, and Mr. Worden presented oral argument before the court.

This case involved a litigant who had sued State Farm, and its insured in various capacities, in nine suits over 17 years, in regards to claims by a wife against her husband resulting from a 1998 accident. In the district court, Ms. Chamberlin and Seattle Partner Drew Cass were able to obtain dismissal of those claims. 

At issue before the Ninth Circuit was whether the thirty-day time period to remove a case to federal court begins when the plaintiff serves the Washington Insurance Commissioner or when the summons and complaint are actually received by the insurer. This was an issue of first impression in the Ninth Circuit.  

The court found in favor of State Farm, holding that receipt of an initial pleading by a statutorily designated agent did not begin the thirty-day removal time period under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1), and that it was actual receipt by the insurer that started the removal clock. Therefore, in this instance, State Farm had timely removed the case.

In an unpublished memorandum decision, the Ninth Circuit also upheld the district court’s order dismissing contractual and extra-contractual claims against the insurer.

Read more about this case on Law360 here (subscription required).

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