(CN) – A federal judge lacked the power to send a wrongful-death lawsuit over a plane crash in Cameroon back to an Illinois court, the 7th Circuit ruled.
The ruling grants Boeing’s appeal of U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan’s order remanding a lawsuit filed by the relatives of passengers on a flight that crashed shortly after takeoff on May 5, 2007, killing all 114 people on board.
Under federal law, federal judges typically preside over lawsuits stemming from a single accident involving at least 75 fatalities.
Because the wrongful-death action was filed in state court, Boeing sought to have it consolidated with two others and reassigned to a federal judge.
Instead of ruling on that motion, Judge Der-Yeghiayan sent the case back to Cook County Circuit Court, saying the “record does not reflect that all the defendants consented in a timely fashion for the removal before the case was removed to Federal Court.”
Boeing appealed, claiming the judge lacked the power to remand the case.
The Chicago-based appellate panel agreed that the judge was “mistaken in believing that there was a defect in removal.”
“Even if the district court were correct that a defect in removal had occurred, this is merely a procedural defect,” Judge Richard Cudahy wrote. Such a defect is waived if the plaintiffs don’t file a motion to remand, he added.
The 7th Circuit vacated Der-Yeghiayan’s remand order, but declined to consolidate the case with two others pending before different federal judges.