January 15, 2019

Fishkin Lucks Defeats Remand in District of Maryland

Taking lead for a group of more than fifteen defendants, the Firm today defeated a motion to remand a significant toxic tort action from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. The Firm properly removed the case on behalf of its clients, a large independent energy exploration and production company and a global specialty chemicals company, even though plaintiff is a Maryland citizen and one of the named corporate defendants was alleged to be a Maryland corporation, arguing that the Maryland corporation had been dissolved and wound up for twelve years, was not subject to suit and had been fraudulently joined in an effort to defeat diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiff moved to remand, citing the high hurdle defendants face in demonstrating fraudulent joinder and speculating that the former Maryland corporation might not be fully wound up (and thus, was subject to suit) based on the possibility that it maintained insurance that covered plaintiff’s claims. On behalf of its clients and the other named defendants, the Firm opposed remand. The Firm not only obtained sworn testimony from former directors of the dissolved Maryland corporation stating that the corporation completed winding up twelve years earlier and had no known insurance policies to satisfy plaintiff’s claims, but cited case authorities holding that plaintiff’s mere speculation as to the existence of insurance was not sufficient to demonstrate that the former Maryland corporation was still in the process of winding up. In a well-written decision, the U.S. District Court (Russell, D.J.) agreed with the Firm’s arguments and denied remand to the notoriously plaintiff-friendly venue in Baltimore City. A copy of the Court’s decision can be found here.