Elimination Methods for Torts on Federal Land

Removal Strategies for Torts on Federal Land

We have previously written about various strategies by which defendants bring cases to a federal court (see here, here and here). Today we are writing about one thing that should be prosecuted in cases where the tort occurs on state: the jurisdiction of the "federal enclave". Although there is not much jurisdiction on the subject, at least three district courts and many district courts have ruled that district courts are initially responsible for these matters. And it may be the case that an accused can make a federal enclave argument in conjunction with other arguments for removal or alone.

The basics of federal jurisdiction of enclaves

The Federal Law on Issues gives a district court original jurisdiction over any act arising from the United States constitution, law, or treaty. (1) In fact, the jurisdiction of the federal enclave results from the constitution, in particular from Article I, Section 8, Clause 17. (2) The "enclave clause" gives Congress the power to pass laws on land that the Federal Government of the States bought:

Congress has the authority … to exercise the same authority over all locations acquired through the approval of the state legislature, including the establishment of fortresses, magazines, arsenals, shipyards and other necessary buildings. 3)

Why did the authors have to explicitly give this power to Congress? At a time when federalism was being questioned, the Constitution needed the enclave clause to make it clear that Congress would retain legislative control over land it had bought from a state to use for national military purposes . Since the enclave clause is a constitutional provision, the Federal Question Act activates the clause to give the federal district courts jurisdiction for matters that arise in these federal enclaves.

But what does the "enclave clause" mean today for tortious persons? If a violation occurs in a federal enclave, the accused can remove a case filed with the state court at the federal district court under 28 USC. Section 1441 (a) because the district court would originally have been competent. Significantly, the relevant state law still applies in general, similar to how it still applies when cases are referred to a federal court for reasons of diversity.

As always, the defendants should also ensure that the time and notification requirements for distance under 28 states are met. § 1446.

When should the accused identify cases of possible removal of the federal slave

Courts generally recognize the jurisdiction of the federal enclave in cases against manufacturers of asbestos products (4) or other chemicals (5) in which the plaintiff was allegedly exposed to these products on a military basis. The courts have also applied the doctrine to issues such as a construction accident involving a subcontractor on a military base (6) and even a helicopter crash in a national park (7).

The various U.S. appellate courts do not often deal with federal enclave jurisdiction in relation to removal, since submissions granted by a district court are typically not reviewable. But the fifth (8), ninth (9), and tenth (10) circuits all found their original jurisdiction in cases where an injury occurred in a federal enclave. No circuit has found against the existence of a federal enclave jurisdiction.

In certain cases, the courts have expanded the federal enclaves beyond the situation expressly stated in the constitution. The constitutional provision states that federal assets "must be acquired with the consent of the state legislature". (Emphasis added). Courts do not always adhere to the simple language of the enclave clause – land that the federal government bought from a state. For example, the Tenth Circle has determined that the federal government does not have to buy the land directly from a state, but “(d) the federal government can also create these enclaves by maintaining jurisdiction when a state first enters the Union occurs. ”(11)) For example, in certain states that were not in the original thirteen, the federal government sometimes had military facilities on land that it retained ownership of when those states first became states.

The concept was not only applied to states, but also to the state that was bought from areas like Puerto Rico. (12) In at least one case, a court merged these two concepts, noting that a federal enclave existed in the country where the United States lived.The federal government was preserved when Puerto Rico first became a territory and not a state . (13) In this case, the Federal Government received land directly from the Kingdom of Spain in Puerto Rico at the end of the Spanish-American War.

When courts have refused to exercise jurisdiction over the federal slave

Several district courts have refused to recognize federal enclaves in U.S. military facilities abroad, such as Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. (14) In one of these rulings, the Northern District of California found that previous federal enclave case law typically concerned land.This was sold to the federal government with the express consent of a U.S. domestic state, although its pre-trial detention decision ultimately involved a separate issue. (15) In another decision, the Maine District rejected the finding that a federal enclave existed in a military base in Afghanistan that the accused claimed to have wiped out the plaintiff's state claims. (16) The court found that the express language of the enclave clause refers to "State land acquired by Congress with the consent of the state legislature". 17)

And can an accused stand up for the jurisdiction of the federal enclave if an unlawful act takes place on non-military government property? That remains an open question. Some courts have referred federal enclaves to land types that are not specifically mentioned in the enclave clause, such as pastureland and national parks. (18) Other courts have been reluctant to extend the jurisdiction of federal enclaves beyond military property, especially when the cases concern such matters as routine car accidents in recreational areas where there is no strong federal interest. (19)

Given the relative lack of court decisions on federal enclave jurisdiction, the precise boundaries of federal enclaves remain an open question and the analysis will be fact-specific. However, the creative litigation attorney should always consider this as a potential means of bringing a case to the federal court, with the higher standards for the federal briefs, solid expert discovery, efficiency through uniform procedural and evidence rules, and often more diverse jury pools .

(1) 28 U.S.C. § 1331

(2) Akin v Ashland Chemical Co., 156 F.3d 1030, 1034 (10th Cir. 1998).

(3) U.S. Const. Art. I, § 8, cl. 17.

(4) Corley v Long-Lewis Inc., 688 F. Supp. 2d 1315, 1324-29 and 1336 (N.D. Ala. 2010); Fung v. Abex Corp., 816 F. Supp. 569, 571 and 573 (N.D. Cal. 1992).

(5) Reed vs. Fina Oil & Chemical Co., 995 F. Supp. 705, 713 (E.D. Tex. 1998); Akin v Big Three Industries, Inc., 851 F. Supp. 819, 822 (E.D. Tex. 1994).

(6) Louisiana United Business Association Cas. Ins. Co. v J & J Maintenance Inc., 133 F. Supp. 3d 852, 861 and 864-65 (W.D. La. 2015).

(7) Holliday v Extex, 2005 WL 2158488, at * 3-5 (D. Haw. July 6, 2005).

(8) Mater vs. Holley, 200 F.2d 123, 124-25 (5th Cir. 1952).

(9) Durham v Lockheed Martin Corp., 445 F.3d 1247, 1250 (9th Cir. 2006).

(10) Akin v Ashland Chemical Co., 156 F.3d 1030, 1034 (10th Cir. 1998).

(11) Allison v Boeing Laser Technical Services, 689 F.3d 1234, 1236 fn. 1 (10th Cir. 2012); Kelly v Lockheed Martin Services Group, 25 F. Supp.2d 1, 3 (D.P.R. 1998).

(12) Torrens v Lockheed Martin Services Group, 396 F.3d 468, 470 (1st Cir. 2005); Overseas Military Sales Corp. vs. Suarez-Melendez, 2009 WL 793612, at * 3 (D.P.R. Mar. 23, 2009).

(13) Koren v Martin Marietta Services, Inc., 997 F. Supp. 196, 203-205. 204 (D.P.R. 1998).

(14) Harris v Kellogg, Brown & Root Services, Inc., 769 F. Supp. 2d 642, 655 fn. 7 (W.D. Pa. 2011); Gavrilovic v Worldwide Language Resources, Inc., 441 F. Supp. 2D 163, 176-77 (D. Me. 2006); Nguyen v Allied Signal, 1998 WL 690854, at * 1 (N.D. Cal. September 29, 1998).

(15) Nguyen, 1998 WL 690854, at * 1-2.

(16) Gavrilovic, 441 F. Supp.2d at 177.

(17) Id.

(18) Kleppe v. New Mexico, 426, US 529, 542 n.11 (1976) ("The clause has been broadly interpreted and the acquisition of exclusive or partial jurisdiction over real estate for a legitimate purpose beyond the listed Approval or assignment is permitted. ") Citing Collins v. Yosemite Park Co., 304 US 518, 528-30 (1938) (application of jurisdiction by the federal enclave to the Yosemite National Park, which is not specifically stated in the Constitution specified military categories); Holliday v. Extex, 2005 WL 2158488, at * 3-5 (D. Haw. July 6, 2005).

(19) Pratt v. Kelly, 585 F.2d 692, 696-97 (4th Cir. 1978); Sylvane v. Whelan, 506 F. Supp. 1355, 1358-60 (E.D.N.Y. 1981); Fowler v. Dodson, 159 F. Supp. 101, 103-04 (E.D. Pa. 1958).