United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand (ECF No. 8). The motion is fully briefed and ready for
Plaintiffs filed this action in the Circuit Court for the
Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit, City of St. Louis, State of
Missouri, on April 27, 2016. Plaintiffs allege injuries
resulting from Plaintiffs' use of Pradaxa®.
Plaintiffs are citizens of a number of states, including
Missouri, Delaware, and Ohio. Plaintiffs contend that there
are several named Plaintiffs that are not completely diverse
with defendants. As admitted by Defendants, Boehringer
Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. ("BIPI") is a
citizen of Delaware and Connecticut, and Defendant West-Ward
Columbus, Inc., formerly known as and identified in the
Petition as Defendant "Boehringer Ingelheim Roxane,
Inc." is a citizen of the states of Delaware and Ohio.
Plaintiff Joseph Stanley Price is a citizen of Delaware, and
Plaintiff Edwin Benson is a citizen of Ohio. Plaintiffs allege
claims for strict product liability, negligence, breach of
express and implied warranties, misrepresentation, unjust
enrichment, gross negligence, wrongful death, and survival
20, 2016, Defendants removed this action to this Court on the
basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1332(a). Although there appears to be a lack of complete
diversity based upon the face of the Petition, Defendants
argue that they are not subject to personal jurisdiction with
respect to the non-Missouri Plaintiffs' claims.
Defendants further assert that personal jurisdiction should
be resolved before subject matter jurisdiction because it
does not raise any complex question of state law (ECF No. 15
at 6). Defendants also argue that the joinder of non-Missouri
Plaintiffs is fraudulent and a sham. (ECF No. 15 at 11-12)
Plaintiffs maintain that remand is appropriate because
complete diversity does not exist, and Plaintiffs' claims
are not fraudulently joined.
statutes are strictly construed, and any doubts about the
correctness of removal are resolved in favor of state court
jurisdiction and remand. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp.
v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941); In re Bus.
Men's Assurance Co. of Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th
Cir. 1993); Manning v. Wal-Mart Stores East, Inc.,
304 F.Supp.2d 1146, 1148 (E.D. Mo. 2004) (citing Transit
Cas. Co. v. Certain Underwriters at Lloyd's of
London, 119 F.3d 619, 625 (8th Cir. 1997)). A civil
action brought in state court may be removed to the proper
district court if the district court has original
jurisdiction of the action. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a).
is axiomatic that a court may not proceed at all in a case
unless it has jurisdiction." Crawford v. F.
Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., 267 F.3d 760, 764 (8th Cir. 2001)
(citing See Ex Parte McCardle, 7 Wall. 506,
514, 19 L.Ed. 264 (1868). Under Supreme Court precedent set
forth in Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S.574
(1999), a court has discretion to consider personal
jurisdiction first where personal jurisdiction is
straightforward and presents no complex question of state
law, and the alleged defect in subject matter jurisdiction
raises a difficult question. Id. at 588; see
also Crawford, 267 F.3d at 764 ("[C]ertain
threshold questions, such as personal jurisdiction, may be
taken up without a finding of subject-matter jurisdiction,
provided that the threshold issue is simple when compared to
the issue of subject-matter jurisdiction.").
the Supreme Court has held that
If personal jurisdiction raises "difficult questions of
[state] law, " and subject-matter jurisdiction is
resolved "as eas[ily]" as personal jurisdiction, a
district court will ordinarily conclude that "federalism
concerns tip the scales in favor of initially ruling on the
motion to remand."
Ruhrgas AG, 526 U.S. at 586 (citings/few v.
Ferguson, 791 F.2d 611, 616 (C.A.7 1986)). "[I]n
most instances subject-matter jurisdiction will involve no
arduous inquiry." Ruhrgas AG, 526 U.S. at 587.
"In such cases, both expedition and sensitivity to state
courts' coequal stature should impel the federal court to
dispose of that issue first." Id. at 587-88.
Courts in this district addressing the same issue have found
that personal jurisdiction requires a more fact-intensive
inquiry than the straightforward issue of subject-matter
jurisdiction. See, e.g., Joseph v. Combe
Inc., No. 4:16CV284 RLW, 2016 WL 3339387, at *1
(E.D. Mo. June 13, 2016); Adler v. Boehringer Ingelheim
Pharms., Inc., No. 4:16 CV 155 RWS, 2016 U.S. Dist.
LEXIS 111100, at *6 (E.D. Mo. March 28, 2016) (exercising
discretion to determine subject matter jurisdiction first
where the inquiry was not arduous); Morgan v. Janssen
Pharms., Inc., No. 4:14-CV-1346 CAS, 2014 WL 6678959, at
*2 (E.D. Mo. Nov. 25, 2014) (finding the issue of subject
matter jurisdiction in an action arising from the drug
Risperidone was a straightforward legal issue that judges in
this district had already addressed and that issues of
personal jurisdiction required a more fact-intensive
inquiry); Butler v. Ortho-McNeil-Janssen Pharms.,
Inc., No. 4:14CV1485 RWS, 2014 WL 5025833, at *1 (E.D.
Mo. Oct. 8, 2014) (declining to rule on issues of personal
jurisdiction first because the subject matter jurisdiction
issue was not arduous). Thus, the Court in its discretion
will first determine the issue of subject matter
jurisdiction, as the question of personal jurisdiction
requires a more fact-intensive inquiry. See Dever v.
Hentzen Coatings, Inc., 380 F.3d 1070, 1072-73 (8th Cir.
2004) (noting a determination of personal jurisdiction
requires looking at affidavits and exhibits in addition to
the face of the pleadings).
Court holds that there is not complete diversity on the face
of the Petition and no basis for fraudulent joinder. "A
defendant may remove a state law claim to federal court only
if the action originally could have been filed there."
In re Prempro Prod. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 619
(8th Cir. 2010) (citing Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d
1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)). Under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a),
a district court has original jurisdiction over a civil
action where the amount in controversy exceeds the sum of
$75, 000 and there is complete diversity of citizenship
between 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).
however, "have long recognized fraudulent joinder as an
exception to the complete diversity rule." In re
Prempro Prod. Liab. Litig, 591 F.3d at 620.
"Fraudulent joinder occurs when a plaintiff files a
frivolous or illegitimate claim against a non-diverse
defendant solely to prevent removal." Id.
(citing Filla v. Norfolk S. Ry. Co.,336 F.3d 806,
809 (8th Cir. 2003)). "When determining if a party has
been fraudulently joined, a court considers whether there is
any reasonable basis in fact or law to support a claim
against a nondiverse defendant." Id. (citing
Wilkinson v. Shackelford,478 F.3d 957, 964 (8th
Cir. 2007)). Here, Defendants argue that the non-Missouri