Judge Grants Indiana Residents’ Request to Keep Case in State Court

An environmental case that was removed to the Northern District of Indiana will move back to the state court system after the judge ruled on an emergency motion to remand the case. Residents of Andrews, Indiana filed the complaint alleging water contamination against a local automotive factory and gas station.

Judge Holly Brady said the court expedited their response to the emergency motion to remand the case which was filed on Thursday, June, 25. The emergency motion claimed the removal from the Huntington County Superior Court was an attempt to delay the hearing scheduled the following day in state court.

The opinion said the defendants thought the relief requested fell under the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, which is a federal statute, but the claims were instead claiming a violation of the Environmental Legal Action Indiana Code. The district court judge ruled that the federal court does not have original jurisdiction. 

“Plaintiffs’ complaint contains six causes of action, all of which are constructed as claims arising under state law. As ‘master’ of their claims, the Plaintiffs resist the notion that they are pleading any federal claims,” the order states. It says although the allegations may also fit a federal claim, the plaintiffs choose to ask for relief under state law. The defendants allege in their notice of removal that the plaintiffs “artfully” left out the federal question. 

The Opinion and Order granted the motion to remand, but denied the plaintiff’s request for any additional attorney’s fees needed because of the removal because there was not a lack of reasonable basis for removal. It states that there is another consolidated case in the District Court system over the same issue, the current case was sparked as a result of decreased output from the town’s non-contaminated wells causing the need to use contaminated well water. 

The plaintiffs, including residents and the town Andrews, Indiana, are represented by Taft Stettinius & Hollister LLP. The defendants, including Raytheon Technologies Corp., are represented by Barnes & Thornburg LLP.