and Submitted November 7, 2018 Seattle, Washington
from the United States District Court for the Western
District of Washington D.C. No. 3:15-cv-05159-RBL Ronald B.
Leighton, District Judge, Presiding
D. Herman (argued), Covington & Burling LLP, Washington,
D.C., for Plaintiffs-Appellants.
Gregory Scott Worden (argued) and Donna M. Chamberlin, Lewis
Brisbois Bisgaard & Smith LLP, Seattle, Washington, for
Before: M. Margaret McKeown and Michelle T. Friedland,
Circuit Judges, and Susan R. Bolton, [*] District Judge.
panel affirmed the district court's denial of
plaintiffs' motion to remand to state court, and held
that the defendant insurer timely removed an insurance
coverage case to federal court.
panel held that receipt of an initial pleading by a
statutorily designated agent did not begin the thirty-day
removal clock under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1), and it was
actual receipt by the insurer that started the removal clock.
Applying this rule, the panel concluded that the insurer
timely removed the case.
contemporaneously filed memorandum disposition, the panel
affirmed in part and vacated in part the remainder of the
judgment, and remanded for further proceedings.
McKEOWN, Circuit Judge.
Anderson and Thomas Anderson's single-car accident in
1998 began a saga of litigation culminating in this appeal.
Little of the tragic history involving nine different trial
and appellate proceedings is relevant to this opinion, in
which we determine only whether State Farm timely removed the
case to federal court. Addressing an issue of first impression in
this circuit, we join the Fourth Circuit in holding that
receipt of an initial pleading by a statutorily designated
agent does not begin the thirty-day removal clock under 28
U.S.C. § 1446(b)(1), and that it was instead actual
receipt by State Farm that started the removal clock. See
Elliott v. Am. States Ins. Co., 883 F.3d 384, 394 (4th
Cir. 2018). Applying this rule, we conclude that State Farm
timely removed the case.
Andersons sued State Farm in Washington state court. Because
State Farm is an out-of-state (or "foreign")
insurer, state law designates Washington's Insurance
Commissioner as State Farm's statutory agent. RCW
48.05.200(1). To serve legal process on State Farm, the
Andersons served the Commissioner, who forwarded the
complaint to State Farm's designated recipient. RCW
4.28.080(7)(a), 48.05.200(1)-(2). The Andersons served the
Commissioner on February 9, 2015, and State Farm received the
forwarded complaint four days later, on February 13. On March
16, State Farm removed the case to federal court.
parties agree on how to count to thirty, but they disagree
over when to begin counting. According to the Andersons,
removal was untimely because the thirty-day removal clock
began on February 9, when the Commissioner received the
complaint. State Farm contends removal was timely as
calculated from February 13, when the forwarded copy of the
complaint reached State Farm's designated
recipient. The district court agreed with State Farm
and denied the Andersons' motion to remand. We have
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § ...