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Case Basics
Docket No. 
Regions Bank of Louisiana
(Argued the cause for the respondents)
(Argued the cause for the petitioners)
Facts of the Case 

In 1983, a partnership mortgaged its interest in the Louisiana equivalent of a leasehold estate on a parcel of real property in New Orleans to Regions Bank of Louisiana. The partnership then granted a second mortgage to Mary Anna Rivet, Minna Ree Winer, Edmond G. Miranne, and Edmond G. Miranne, Jr. Later, the partnership filed for bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Court approved the sale of the estate to the Bank, which sold the property. Rivet filed suit in Louisiana state court, alleging that the transfer of the property without satisfying their rights under the second mortgage violated state law. The Bank removed the action to federal court, contending that federal-question jurisdiction existed because the prior Bankruptcy Court orders extinguished Rivet's rights. Denying Rivet's motion to remand, the District Court granted the Bank summary judgment. In affirming, the Court of Appeals concluded that removal is proper where a plaintiff's state cause of action is completely precluded by a prior federal judgment on a federal question.


May removal to federal court be predicated on a defendant's assertion that a prior federal judgment has disposed of an entire matter and thus bars plaintiffs from later pursuing a state-law-based case?

Decision: 9 votes for Rivet, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: 28 U.S.C. 1441

No. In a unanimous opinion delivered by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, the Court held that a defense claim of preclusion by reason of a prior federal judgment provides no basis for removal and emphasized that the claim is properly made in state proceedings. Differing the case from a removable case governed by a preemptive federal statute, Justice Ginsburg wrote that the "prior federal judgment does not transform the plaintiff's state-law claims into federal claims but rather extinguishes them altogether."

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RIVET v. REGIONS BANK OF LOUISIANA. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 26 August 2015. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_96_1971>.
RIVET v. REGIONS BANK OF LOUISIANA, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_96_1971 (last visited August 26, 2015).
"RIVET v. REGIONS BANK OF LOUISIANA," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed August 26, 2015, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1997/1997_96_1971.