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Bioconvergence LLC v. Attariwala

United States District Court, S.D. Indiana, Indianapolis Division

October 23, 2019

BIOCONVERGENCE LLC d/b/a SINGOTA SOLUTIONS, Plaintiff,
v.
JASPREET ATTARIWALA, SIMRANJIT JOHNNY SINGH a/k/a SIMRANJIT J. ATTARIWALA a/k/a SIM J. SINGH, Defendants.

          ORDER ON DEFENDANT JASPREET ATTARIWALA'S MOTION TO VACATE STATE COURT'S CONTEMPT ORDER AND QUASH BENCH WARRANT

          TIM A. BAKER UNITED STATES MAGISTRATE JUDGE

         I. Introduction

         This matter is before the Court on Defendant Jaspreet Attariwala's Motion to Vacate State Court's Contempt Order and Quash Bench Warrant and Brief in Support [Filing No. 48]. As explained below, Attariwala's motion is granted in part and denied in part. In relation to the bench warrant, the motion is denied as moot, because the warrant has since expired. But Attariwala's motion is granted as it relates to the state court's written contempt order, because the order was issued after removal, when the state court no longer had jurisdiction.

         II. Background

         This Court summarized the procedural history of this matter in its order on August 30, 2019, requesting additional briefing [Filing No. 71]:

This case originated in state court. While this case was pending there, Defendant Jaspreet Attariwala failed to appear for a contempt hearing. The state court ordered a bench warrant for Attariwala's arrest. At the contempt hearing, the state court found Attariwala in direct contempt and directed counsel for Plaintiff to submit a proposed order. Plaintiff allegedly submitted a proposed order on April 29, 2019. [Filing No. 59-1, at ECF p. 5.] On April 30, 2019, Attariwala filed a notice of removal in federal court. On May 1, 2019, Attariwala certified that a copy of the notice of removal was filed with the Clerk of the Monroe County Circuit Court on April 30 as well. The state court issued its written order finding Attariwala in contempt on May 6, 2019. Attariwala now asks this Court to vacate and quash the contempt order and bench warrant issued in the state court proceeding. [Filing No. 48.]

         The Court sought additional briefing on the issue of whether the bench warrant had an expiration date. [Filing No. 71.] The parties responded and both acknowledged that the bench warrant, dated April 18, 2019, states on its face that it will expire after 180 days. [Filing No. 15-5.] Thus, it expired on October 15, 2019. The Court, therefore, denies Attariwala's motion to quash the bench warrant as moot.

         III. Discussion

         As noted above, the bench warrant issue is now moot. However, as both sides assert, the state court's May 6 order on contempt did not contain an expiration date. Accordingly, though the Court was “reluctant to delve into the thorny state law issue that has been presented” [Filing No. 71, at ECF p. 2.], it must do so since this issue will not simply go away on its own.

         Attariwala argues that the state court's contempt order should be vacated for lack of jurisdiction because it was entered after she filed her notice of removal to this Court. [Filing No. 48-1, at ECF p.4.] Plaintiff Bioconvergence, LLC, counters that the state court orally found Attariwala in contempt on April 18, 2019, twelve days before Attariwala removed the action and when the state court still had jurisdiction. [Filing No. 59, at ECF p. 1.] Bioconvergence characterizes the state court's written order as simply a “ministerial act” memorializing its prior oral findings, which could be completed following removal. [Filing No. 59, at ECF p. 2.]

         Title 28, Section 1446(d) of the United States Code states:

(d) Notice to adverse parties and State court.-Promptly after the filing of such notice of removal of a civil action the defendant or defendants shall give written notice thereof to all adverse parties and shall file a copy of the notice with the clerk of such State court, which shall effect the removal and the State court shall proceed no further unless and until the case is remanded.

28 U.S.C. § 1446(d). Thus, when a case is removed from state to federal court, jurisdiction of the state court generally ceases unless and until the case is remanded. See, e.g., Fenton v. Dudley, 761 F.3d 770, 772 (7th Cir. 2014) (“As a preliminary matter, we note that the Cook County Circuit Court's decision to enter an injunction after the case had been removed to federal court is clearly contrary to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(d), which provides that, once a defendant has filed a notice of removal with the state court, the state court may proceed no further unless and until the case is remanded.” (Internal citation, quotation marks, and emphasis omitted)).

         Attariwala cites to decisions in other districts that have quashed state court entries that were made after the matter was removed to federal court. See, e.g.,Warren v. Fed. Reserve Bankof Chicago, No. 17-CV-13256, 2018 WL 4854678, at *6 (E.D. Mich. July 18, 2018) (“Here, Defendant removed this matter from the state court to this court on October 4, 2017. The state court then entered the writ of garnishment at issue on October 20, 2017. Thus, the state court lacked jurisdiction over this matter at the time it entered the Writ of Garnishment, the Writ of Garnishment is void, and it should be vacated.”), adopted by No. 17-13256, 2018 WL ...


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