On March 24, 2016, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit issued an en banc decision that broadly supports the right of defendants to remove cases from state to federal court, and that prevents plaintiffs from blocking removal by improperly joining extraneous parties. The 11-4 decision overturned a previous panel decision that had denied removal rights. The decision was a victory for WLF, which filed a brief urging the court to bar plaintiffs from fraudulently joining extraneous parties for the purpose of eliminating federal jurisdiction, thereby upholding the removal rights of out-of-state defendants. WLF argued that the fraudulent-joinder doctrine serves important federalism interests by ensuring that defendants are afforded the access to federal courts that the Framers of the Constitution intended to grant them. The Fifth Circuit agreed, ruling that a defendant has been improperly joined if no viable claims against that defendant exist at the time of removal.
Flagg v. Stryker Corp.