In Delalla v. Hanover Ins., 100 U.S.P.Q.2d 1392 (3d Cir. Oct. 12, 2011), the Third Circuit answered that very question. Per the Court's opinion:
We conclude that the later-served rule represents a better reading of the language § 1446(b) and results in more equitable treatment to later-served defendants. We join the Sixth, Eighth, Ninth, and Eleventh Circuits in adopting the later-served rule.And what's the later-served rule? "[E]ach defendant has a thirty day period to file a notice of removal that ends thirty days after that defendant is served" (emphasis added).
The alternative, is the "first-served" rule, adopted by the Fourth and Fifth Circuits: "[T]he thirty day period ends thirty days after the first defendant is served" (emphasis added). Yup folks, it's a good 'ol fashioned circuit split! I suspect the Supreme Court will take a look at this issue one of these days. For now, parties just need to know their circuit.
Image: Third Circuit seal used in commentary - Not Official Use.
Posted by Philip Miles, an attorney with McQuaide Blasko in State College, Pennsylvania in the firm's civil litigation and labor and employment law practice groups.