Legal Memorandum: Attorney's Fees for Seeking a Remand

Issue: What is the standard for reasonable attorney’s fees related to seeking a remand?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Remand motion; Attorney's Fees; Reasonableness of speculation
Jurisdiction: Federal, Georgia
Cited Cases: 483 F.3d 1184
Cited Statutes: 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c)
Date: 08/01/2011

Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c), “[a]n order remanding [a] case may require payment of just costs and any actual expenses, including attorney fees, incurred as a result of the removal.”  However, expenses and attorney’s fees may only be awarded on a motion to remand “where the removing party lacked an objectively reasonable basis for seeking removal.”  Martin v. Franklin Capital Corp., 546 U.S. 132, 141, 126 S. Ct. 704, 163 L. Ed. 2d 547 (2005).  “In applying this rule, district courts retain discretion to consider whether unusual circumstances warrant a departure from the rule in a given case.”  Id.

Hawkins v. Cottrell, Inc., No. 2:10-CV-00268, (N.D. Ga. May 19, 2011).  See Boateng v. Morrison Mgmt. Specialists, Inc., No. 1:11-CV-00142 (N.D. Ga. June 13, 2011) (granting the plaintiff’s request for costs and expenses incurred in seeking remand).  In Rae v. Perry, 392 F. App’x 753, 755 (11th Cir. 2010), the court of appeals held that the district court did not abuse its discretion in determining that the defendant did not have an objectively reasonable basis for removal and, therefore, in assessing attorney’s fees under § 1447(c).  “Viewed objectively,” Rae sought a total of $20,000 in compensatory damages, such that the defendant completely failed to show by a preponderance of the evidence that the damages sought reached the jurisdictional amount.  Id. at 756.  “[The defendant’s] calculations were based on his own speculation, and therefore, were not objectively reasonable.”  Id.  (affirming the district court’s award of reasonable attorney’s fees).

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