UC Law Journal


The artful pleading doctrine is the mechanism that federal courts use to assert removal jurisdiction by recharacterizing state claims as federal claims. The pristine form of the doctrine allows removal when a plaintiff's state claims are both preempted by federal law and replaced by parallel federal claims. Professor Ragazzo argues that this form of the artful pleading doctrine contravenes two traditional rules: first, that the plaintiff is the master of his complaint, and second, that federal jurisdiction may not be predicated upon the assertion of federal defenses (the well-pleaded complaint rule).

This Article next considers the argument made in recent cases that artful pleading removal may be proper when federal law wholly preempts state law without regard to whether federal law provides a replacement federal claim. Recent cases have also suggested that artful pleading removal may be proper when a plaintiff's state claims are barred by the res judicata effect of a federal court judgment in a prior federal question case. Professor Ragazzo argues that these recent manifestations of the artful pleading doctrine represent further departures from traditional jurisdictional law and are unjustified.

Because the artful pleading doctrine in all its forms violates the well-pleaded complaint rule, Professor Ragazzo considers whether the well-pleaded complaint rule should be eliminated or modified to incorporate the artful pleading doctrine. He concludes that the well-pleaded complaint rule is sound and that the artful pleading doctrine should be abandoned in all of its forms.

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