United States District Court, N.D. Oklahoma
INDEPENDENT SCHOOL DISTRICT NO. 5 OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA, Plaintiff,
PATRICK L. TAYLOR and MARSHALETA TAYLOR, husband and wife; FREDERIC DORWART, as Receiver for the Law Practice of Robert J. Nichols; BRIAN A. CURTHOYS; RALPH MACKEY; EDWARD G. LINDSEY; and UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, ex rel. Internal Revenue Service, Defendants.
OPINION AND ORDER
GREGORY K. FRIZZELL, UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT JUDGE
the court is the Motion for Remand to State Court filed by
defendants Patrick L. Taylor and Marshaleta Taylor ("the
Taylors") [Doc. #18].
2007, plaintiff Independent School District No. 5 of Tulsa
County, Oklahoma (also known as Jenks Public Schools,
hereinafter "JPS") brought an action in state
district court to condemn land belonging to the Taylors. At
the conclusion of that proceeding, on October 3, 2014, the
court awarded the Taylors attorney fees in the amount of $1,
November 15, 2016, JPS filed an Interpleader Petition in
Tulsa County District Court, and interpled the funds into
court. In its Petition, JPS named as defendants various
parties asserting claims against the Taylors' lawyer,
Robert J. Nichols, including the United States of America,
ex. rel. Internal Revenue Service ("the United
States"). A copy of the Summons issued to the United
States bears a stamp indicating it was received by the United
States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of
Oklahoma on November 18, 2016.
December 15, 2016, at 6:16 p.m. Central Time, the Tax
Division of the United States Department of Justice, on
behalf of the United States, emailed a civil cover sheet and
Notice of Removal to the Court Clerk. The following morning,
the Court Clerk created a "case shell" to enable
the United States to e-file the Notice of Removal in Case No.
16-CV-750. The United States e-filed the Notice of Removal in
the court's electronic filing system on December 22,
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. See Dutcher v.
Matheson, 733 F.3d 980, 984 (10th Cir. 2013). To that
end, removal statutes are strictly construed with all doubts
resolved against removal. See Belcher v. Un. Parcel
Serv., Inc., No. 09-CV-628-TCK-PJC, 2009 WL 4612169, at
*2 (N.D. Okla. Dec. 10, 2009).
Timeliness of Removal
Taylors first argue the United States' removal was
untimely. The federal statute setting forth the procedure for
removal of civil actions states in pertinent part:
The 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, or within 30 days after the
service of summons upon the defendant if such initial
pleading has then been filed in court and is not required to
be served on the defendant, whichever period is shorter.
28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1).
Taylors argue the Notice of Removal was filed three days
after the 30-day time limit. Specifically, they contend that
because the United States Attorney received a copy of the
Interpleader Petition on November 18, 2016, the Notice of
Removal had to be filed on or before December 19,
2016. The Taylors argue that, under this
court's "CM/ECF Administrative Guide of Policies and
Procedures, " emailing a document to the Court
Clerk's office-as the United States did on the evening of
December 15, 2016-does not constitute filing of the document.
They contend the Notice of Removal was not filed as a matter
of law until December 22, 2016.
response, the United States argues the 30-day period for
removal did not begin to run because JPS failed to serve the
Attorney General as required by 28 U.S.C. § 2410(b).
Section 2410 applies to, inter alia, interpleader
actions with respect to personal property on which the United
States has or claims a lien. 28 U.S.C. § 2410(a)(5). In
its Notice of Removal, the United ...