United States District Court, D. Connecticut
RULING RE: MOTION TO REMAND CASE
A. BOLDEN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Melillo and Allen Norden (“Plaintiffs”) initiated
this action against Ryan Brais (“Defendant”) in
small claims court on December 21, 2016. Defendant filed a
motion to have Plaintiffs' action transferred to the
Connecticut Superior Court for the Judicial District for New
London on January 31, 2017, which was granted on or about
February 6, 2017. Plaintiffs filed a Revised Complaint in
Superior Court on March 9, 2017.
March 30, Defendant removed the case to this Court, claiming
original federal jurisdiction based on Plaintiffs'
allegations under the Fourth Amendment to the United States
Constitution. Not. of Removal, ECF No. 1. Plaintiffs filed an
“Objection of Removal” on April 3, 2017
requesting that the Court remand this case to the Superior
Court in New London. Mot. to Remand, ECF No. 22. Defendant
filed a reply to Plaintiffs' motion on April 17, 2017
opposing remand in this case. Def. Opp., ECF No. 19. For the
reasons outlined below, Plaintiffs'  Motion to Remand
Case is DENIED.
Ryan Brais is a Zoning Official for the Town of Plainfield.
Small Claims Compl., Pls. Motion to Remand Ex. 1, ECF No.
22-1. Plaintiffs' initial Complaint, filed with the Small
Claims Session of the Connecticut Superior Court, alleged
harassment, emotional distress, and violation of civil
rights. Id. Plaintiffs' Revised Complaint, filed
in Connecticut Superior Court, further clarified
Plaintiffs' claims by specifically alleging that
Defendant, acting in his official capacity, violated
Plaintiffs' constitutional rights under the Fourth
Amendment of the United States Constitution. Rev. Compl.
¶ 1, ECF No. 1-1.
allege that Defendant violated their Fourth Amendment right
to privacy and caused them financial and emotional distress
by harassing them through numerous and repetitive inspections
of their home. Id. According to Plaintiffs,
Defendant conducted multiple unnecessary inspections of the
same area in Plaintiffs' detached garage. Id. at
¶ 9. Plaintiffs also allege that Defendant required them
to sign a document giving Defendant permission to inspect
Plaintiffs' property at any time with only twenty-four
hours' notice. Id. at ¶¶ 8, 10-12.
Defendant allegedly took some of Plaintiffs' personal
belongings from their home without their permission.
Id. at ¶ 18. According to Plaintiffs,
Defendant's conduct ultimately required them to sell
their home at a loss. Id. at ¶ 16.
March 30, 2017, twenty-one (21) days after Plaintiffs filed
their Revised Complaint in Superior Court, Defendant removed
the case to this Court, and the Revised Complaint became the
operative Complaint in this action. Not. of Rem., ECF No. 1.
After filing an Objection to the Notice of Removal, ECF No.
13, which was later re-filed as a Motion to Remand, ECF No.
22, Plaintiffs submitted a motion to amend their Revised
Complaint by adding an additional federal claim under 18
U.S.C. § 242, Mot. to Am., ECF No. 24.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), “any civil action brought in
a State court of which the district courts of the United
States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the
defendant or defendants, to the district court of the United
States for the district and division embracing the place
where such action is pending.” District courts have
original jurisdiction over all cases “arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
28 U.S.C. § 1331. A case may be removed to federal court
if the plaintiff's well-pleaded complaint raises issues
arising from federal law. Metropolitan Life Ins. Co. v.
Taylor, 481 U.S. 58, 62 (1987).
defendant must file a notice of removal either within thirty
days of receiving a copy of the initial pleading setting
forth the claim for relief, or within thirty days of
receiving “a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order
or other paper from which it may first be ascertained that
the case is one which is or has become removable.” 28
U.S.C. §§ 1446(b)(1) and (3). Absent a finding of
estoppel or waiver, this statutory time limit is rigorously
enforced by the federal courts. Somlyo v. J. Lu-Rob
Enterprises, Inc., 932 F.2d 1043, 1046 (1991).
have petitioned the Court to remand this case to the
Connecticut Superior Court in New London. Plaintiffs do not
argue that their claims are not federal in nature; rather,
Plaintiffs allege that removal is inappropriate because (1)
Defendant initiated the removal outside of the thirty-day
time limit imposed by 28 U.S.C. § 1446, and (2) moving
the case from New London to Bridgeport would result in
hardship to Plaintiffs, as they are elderly and are unable to
travel to the United States District Court for the District
of Connecticut in Bridgeport. Pl. Mot. at ¶ 16. Each of
Plaintiffs' arguments is examined in further detail
Time Limit for Removal
28 U.S.C. § 1446, “[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.” 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1). The thirty-day
time period does not necessarily commence upon serving the
initial complaint-it commences only when the defendant
receives information from which he can ascertain the
case's removability. 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3)
(“[I]f the case stated by the initial pleading is not
removable, a notice of removal may be filed within 30 days
after receipt by the defendant, through service or otherwise,
of a copy of an amended pleading, motion, order or other
paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.”); see also
Whitaker v. American Telecasting Inc.,261 F.3d 196,
205-206 (2d Cir. 2001) (“A case is removable when the
initial pleading ‘enables the defendant to
“intelligently ascertain” removability ...