E.D. Tex. Magistrate Notes Split Re Whether Magistrate's May Rule on Motions to Remand

Per Doucet v. State Farm Fire and Cas. Co., Slip Copy, 2009 WL 3157478 (E.D. Tex. Sept. 25, 2009):

A threshold question is whether a motion to remand is a pretrial matter not dispositive of a party's claim or defense that magistrate judges may hear and decide pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(b)(1)(A) or (3).

Lower courts are split on this question,FN1 and there is no definitive ruling from the governing United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. But, in a recent case, the Fifth Circuit voiced no objection to a magistrate judge's ruling on a remand motion when the presiding district judge considered the aggrieved party's objection.FN2 Since the parties here will have an opportunity to secure district-judge review of any perceived errors or defects in the order,FN3 the undersigned elects to decide the motion rather than issue a more cumbersome recommendation for its disposition.

FN1. Compare Saxon v. Thomas, No. 06-2339, 2007 WL 1974914, at *2 (W.D. La. June 29, 2007), Robinson v. Cheetah Transp., No. Civ. A. 06-0005, 2006 WL 1453036, at *1 (W.D.La. May 17, 2006), Vaquillas Ranch Co. v. Texaco Exploration & Prod., Inc., 844 F.Supp. 1156, 1160-63 (S.D.Tex.1994), and City of Jackson v. Lakeland Lounge of Jackson, Inc., 147 F.R.D. 122, 124 (S.D.Miss.1993) (holding that motions to remand are not dispositive and, consequently, may be referred to a United States magistrate judge for determination), with First Union Mortgage Corp. v. Smith, 229 F.3d 992, 996 (10th Cir.2000), and In re U.S. Healthcare, 159 F.3d 142, 146 (3d Cir.1998) (both holding that inasmuch as remand orders banish litigants from federal court, they are equivalent to final decisions or dispositive actions that must ultimately be performed by a district judge).


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