Agostini v. Piper Aircraft Corp., --- F.3d ---, (3d Cir., 9/5/13)

Limiting appellate review of a motion to reconsider a remand order.

In multi-party aviation litigation, defendants frequently attempt removal to federal court, oftentimes relying upon diversity of citizenship as the basis for claiming federal subject matter jurisdiction. When removal is challenged and ultimately successful through a motion to remand, is there any avenue for appellate review when the district court denies a motion to reconsider the remand order? In a case of first impression for the Third Circuit, the court held that a federal appeals court does not have jurisdiction to review a district court’s ruling on the motion for reconsideration.

In reaching this result, the Third Circuit relied heavily on 28 U.S.C. § 1447(d), which provides that “[a]n order remanding a case to the state court from which it was removed is not reviewable on appeal or otherwise.” The appellants, Textron, Inc. and Avco Corporation, argued that a remand order is distinct from a motion to reconsider the remand order and that section 1447(d) does not bar appellate review of the latter. Not persuaded by this contention, the Third Circuit ruled that if section 1447(d) divests the appellate court from jurisdiction to review a remand order, it is self-evident that there is no jurisdiction to review a motion to reconsider a remand order. Even though appellants argued that an appellate court may reach the merits of an unreviewable remand order because the reconsideration is collateral to such a ruling, the Third Circuit disagreed and limited appellate review of collateral issues to those that do not affect the progress of a case once it has been returned to state court. In short, a motion to reconsider a remand order is not such a collateral issue.

Case Law Alert, 4th Quarter 2013