NOVEMBER 2012 BAD FAITH CASES: COURT RULES THAT SERVICE UPON CARRIER’S STATUTORY AGENT DOES NOT COMMENCE THIRTY-DAY PERIOD FOR REMOVAL (New Jersey Federal)
In Tucci v. Hartford Fin. Servs. Group, Inc., the court heard an insured’s motion to remand a coverage dispute with its carrier to state court.
The insured had served its complaint upon the carrier’s statutory agent in New Jersey, the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance. The Commissioner subsequently mailed the complaint to the carrier. The carrier filed a notice of removal and brought the case to federal court. However, its notice of removal was filed thirty-five days after the insured’s initial service upon the Commissioner. The insured argued that this was ground for remand because 28 U.S.C. 1446(b) requires a party to remove within thirty-days.
The court disagreed with the insured and denied the motion for remand, ruling that the carrier’s notice of removal was in fact timely. The court reasoned that a carrier’s statutory agent was not an agent in-fact, meaning that the Commissioner was merely a medium for service.