Beneficial National Bank v. Anderson, 539 U.S. 1 (2003)

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CASES ADJUDGED

IN THE

SUPREME COURT OF THE UNITED STATES

AT

OCTOBER TERM, 2002

BENEFICIAL NATIONAL BANK et al. v. ANDERSON et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the eleventh circuit

No. 02-306. Argued April 30, 2003—Decided June 2, 2003

Respondents, who secured loans from petitioner national bank, filed a state-court suit against the bank and two other petitioners, seeking damages on the theory, among others, that the bank's interest rates violated "the common law usury doctrine" and an Alabama usury statute. The complaint did not refer to any federal law. Petitioners removed the case to Federal District Court, asserting that the National Bank Act governs the interest rate that a national bank may charge, see 12 U. S. C. 85, that the rates charged to respondents complied with 85, that 86 provides the exclusive remedies available against a national bank charging excessive interest, and that respondents' action was therefore one "arising under" federal law that could be removed under 28 U. S. C. 1441. The District Court denied respondents' motion to remand the case to state court, but certified the question whether it had jurisdiction to the Eleventh Circuit. In reversing, the latter court held that under the "well-pleaded complaint" rule, removal is not permitted unless the complaint expressly alleges a federal claim, and that the narrow exception known as the complete pre-emption doctrine did not apply because there was no evidence of clear congressional intent to permit removal under 85 and 86.

Held: Respondents' cause of action arose only under federal law and could, therefore, be removed under 1441. Pp. 6-11.

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