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Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp. v. Taylor - 239 F. Supp. 913 (S.D.N.Y. 1965)

Rule:

28 U.S.C.S. § 1441(c) provides: Whenever a separate and independent claim or cause of action, which would be removable if sued upon alone, is joined with one or more otherwise non-removable claims or causes of action, the entire case may be removed and the district court may determine all issues therein, or, in its discretion, may remand all matters not otherwise within its original jurisdiction.

Facts:

Plaintiff Twentieth Century-Fox, a Delaware corporation, moves to remand this action to the New York State Supreme Court after it was removed to this federal district court on the petition of the defendant Richard Burton. The action is one of a series of litigation arising out of the production of the motion picture "Cleopatra," in which Burton and Elizabeth Taylor, now husband and wife, play principal roles. Twentieth Century-Fox seeks to recover substantial damages based upon five separate causes of action, the first and fifth of which are against Taylor individually, the second against Burton individually, and the third and fourth against them severally and jointly. Plaintiff alleges its principal place of business is New York. Taylor is a citizen of the United States, but is not a citizen of any state.  Burton is a British subject, not resident in any state of the United States.

Issue:

Was the breach of contract action against defendant Burton constituted an independent claim?

Answer:

Yes

Conclusion:

The federal disrict court remanded the declaratory judgment claim, but denied the motions to remand and the motions to transfer the remaining claims. The court concluded that the breach of contract action against Burton individually, a British citizen, which was the basis of the removal petition, constituted an independent claim. The fact that the services were to be rendered by each performer in the production of one film does not coalesce violations of the two separate contracts into a single wrong. There were two distinct employment contracts, one with Burton and one with Taylor, and thus there were separate wrongs that gave rise to separate claims for damages. The same determination of separate actions applied to the tort claims. Thus, recovery against one of the defendants did not preclude recovery against the other.

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