United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
E. JACKSON UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs’ motion to
remand the action to the state court from which it was
removed. Defendants have filed a response in opposition and a
motion to dismiss the claims of the non-Missouri plaintiffs
for lack of personal jurisdiction. All issues are fully
23, 2016, sixty-eight plaintiffs filed suit in the
Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit Court of Missouri (St. Louis
City) seeking damages for injuries arising from their use of
the anticoagulant drug Pradaxa, which is manufactured and
marketed by defendants. Plaintiffs are citizens of several
states, including Missouri, Delaware, Connecticut, and Ohio.
Defendants Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc., and
Boehringer Ingelheim Roxane, Inc.,  are citizens of Delaware,
where they are incorporated, and Connecticut and Ohio,
respectively, where they have their principal places of
business. Defendants removed the matter to this
Court invoking jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). On the
face of the complaint, there does not appear to be complete
diversity of citizenship of the parties. However, defendants
argue that this Court does not have personal jurisdiction
with respect to the claims brought by 67 of the plaintiffs
who are not Missouri citizens and, therefore, the citizenship
of those plaintiffs should not considered. Defendants urge
the Court to decide the personal jurisdiction issue before
addressing the issue of subject matter jurisdiction.
Plaintiffs move for remand, asserting that complete diversity
does not exist and there is no fraudulentl joinder.
Court has discretion to determine whether to consider its
subject matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction first.
See Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574
(1999). Where, as here, the inquiry into subject matter
jurisdiction is not arduous, the better course is to address
that issue first. See id. at 587-88 (“[B]oth
expedition and sensitivity to state courts’ coequal
stature should impel the federal court to dispose of [subject
matter jurisdiction] first.”) Courts in this district
addressing cases removed on the basis of similar personal
jurisdiction arguments have found it appropriate to address
the issue of subject matter jurisdiction first. See,
e.g., Timms v. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:16-CV-733 (JAR), 2016 WL 3667982 (E.D. Mo. July 11, 2016);
Joseph v. Combe Inc., No. 4:16-CV-284 (RLW), 2016 WL
3339387 (E.D. Mo. June 13, 2016); Nickerson v. Janssen
Pharm., Inc., No. 4:15-CV-1762 (RLW), 2016 WL 3030241
(E.D. Mo. May 26, 2016); Adler v. Boehringer Ingelheim
Pharm., Inc., No. 4:16-CV-155 (RWS), Memorandum and
Order (E.D. Mo. Mar. 28, 2016) [Doc. #18]; Clark v.
Pfizer, No. 4:15-CV-456 (HEA), 2015 WL 4648019 (E.D. Mo.
Aug. 5, 2015); Parker v. Pfizer, Inc., No.
4:15-CV-441 (CAS), 2015 WL 3971169 (E.D. Mo. June 30, 2015);
Littlejohn v. Janssen Research & Dev.,
LLC, No. 4:15-CV-194 (NAB/CDP), 2015 WL 1647901
(E.D. Mo. Apr. 13, 2015). The Court agrees that it is
appropriate to determine whether it has subject matter
jurisdiction before addressing the issue of personal
defendant may remove a pending state court action to a
federal district court that has “original
jurisdiction” over the action. 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). Diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332
requires an amount in controversy greater than $75, 000 and
complete diversity of citizenship among the litigants.
“Complete diversity of citizenship exists where no
defendant holds citizenship in the same state where any
plaintiff holds citizenship.” OnePoint Solutions,
LLC v. Borchert, 486 F.3d 342, 346 (8th Cir. 2007). The
defendant bears the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Altimore
v. Mount Mercy College, 420 F.3d 763, 768 (8th
Cir.2005). “All doubts about federal jurisdiction
should be resolved in favor of remand to state court.”
In re Prempro Products Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613,
620 (8th Cir. 2010). A case must be remanded if, at any time,
it appears that the district court lacks subject-matter
jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
doctrine of fraudulent joinder allows a district court to
assume jurisdiction over a facially nondiverse case
temporarily and, if there is no reasonable basis for the
imposition of liability under state law, dismiss the
nondiverse party from the case and retain subject matter
jurisdiction over the remaining claims.” Murphy v.
Aurora Loan Servs., LLC, 699 F.3d 1027, 1031 (8th Cir.
2012), as corrected (Nov. 28, 2012). Defendants
argue that because the Court does not have personal
jurisdiction over defendants on the claims brought by the
non-Missouri plaintiffs, these plaintiffs are fraudulently
joined. Courts in this district have repeatedly rejected this
argument. See Adler, No. 4:16-CV-155 at 4;
Joseph v. Combe Inc., 2016 WL 3339387, at
*2; Triplett v. Janssen Pharms., Inc., No.
4:14-CV-02049-AGF, at 9 (E.D. Mo. July 7, 2015) [Doc. #30]
(finding defendants’ personal jurisdiction argument
failed to address whether non-diverse plaintiffs had
colorable claims as required to show fraudulent joinder)
Gracey v. Janssen Pharms., Inc., No. 4:15-CV-407
CEJ, 2015 WL 2066242, at *3 (E.D. Mo. May 4, 2015) (rejecting
defendants’ attempt to premise a fraudulent joinder
argument on the state court’s alleged lack of personal
jurisdiction); Littlejohn, 2015 WL 1647901, at *1;
Simmons v. Skechers USA, Inc., No. 4:15-CV-340-CEJ,
2015 WL 1604859, at *3 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 9, 2015) (rejecting
defendants’ argument that the “theory of
fraudulent joinder-an inquiry into substantive viability of
claims-countenances a procedural challenge to a court’s
personal jurisdiction over a defendant.”)
“allows multiple plaintiffs to join in a single action
if (i) they assert claims ‘with respect to or arising
out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of
transactions or occurrences;’ and (ii) ‘any
question of law or fact common to all plaintiffs will arise
in the action.’” In re Prempro, 591 F.3d
at 622 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 20(a)(1)). “In construing
Rule 20, the Eighth Circuit has provided a very broad
definition for the term 'transaction.”’
Id. Rule 20 “permit[s] all reasonably related
claims for relief by or against different parties to be tried
in a single proceeding, ” without requiring
“[a]bsolute identity of all events.” Id.
As the Eighth Circuit has written, “if the nondiverse
plaintiff is a real party in interest, the fact that his
joinder was motivated by a desire to defeat federal
jurisdiction is not material.” Iowa Pub. Serv. Co.
v. Med. Bow Coal Co., 556 F.2d 400, 404 (8th Cir. 1977);
id. at 406 (“[I]f [a plaintiff] can avoid the
federal forum by the device of properly joining a nondiverse
defendant or a nondiverse co-plaintiff, he is free to do
other cases, the Court finds that plaintiffs’ claims
satisfy Rule 20(a)’s standard:
First, plaintiffs’ complaint raises common questions of
law or fact regarding injuries alleged from use of the same
product and arising from the same design, testing,
development, labeling, packaging, distribution, marketing,
and sales practices for that product. Also, because
plaintiffs’ allegations relate to defendant’s
design, manufacture, testing, and promotion of [Pradaxa] -
occurrences common as to all plaintiffs - their claims also
arise out of the same transaction or occurrence, or series
thereof. That is so even if the end-of-the-line exposures
occurred in different states and under the supervision of
different medical professionals.
Robinson v. Pfizer Inc., No. 4:16-CV-439 (CEJ), 2016
WL 1721143, at *4 (E.D. Mo. Apr. 29, 2016).
have failed to meet their burden to establish that the
plaintiffs’ claims are fraudulently joined. Thus,
subject-matter jurisdiction is lacking. The Court will remand
this matter and “leave to the learned state court the
question of ...