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McPeters v. Bayer, Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

January 5, 2017

ROSALIND MCPETERS, et al., Plaintiffs,
BAYER, CORP., et al., Defendants.



         This case is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand this case to state court. (Doc. 15). The motion has been fully briefed, and the Court has heard oral argument on the motion. The parties have consented to the jurisdiction of the undersigned United States Magistrate Judge pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 636(c). (Doc. 36).

         I. Background

         Plaintiffs filed this action in the Circuit Court for the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit, City of St. Louis, Missouri. (Doc. 1-1). Plaintiffs are ninety-four individual women, each of whom alleges that she suffered injuries resulting from the use of Essure, a permanent birth control system manufactured by Defendants. Plaintiffs assert claims of negligence, negligence per se, strict liability for failure to warn, strict liability based on a manufacturing defect, common law fraud, constructive fraud, fraudulent concealment, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, violations of consumer protection laws, Missouri products liability, violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act, and gross negligence/punitive damages. Plaintiffs include citizens of a number of different states, including Missouri, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

         On October 28, 2016, Defendants removed the case to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, and Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”) jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d). Defendant Bayer Corporation is a citizen of Indiana and Pennsylvania. Defendant Bayer HealthCare LLC is a citizen of New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Germany, and the Netherlands. Defendant Bayer Essure, Inc., and Defendant Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals are citizens of Delaware and New Jersey. With respect to diversity jurisdiction, Defendants argued that although there is a lack of complete diversity on the face of the Petition, the Court should dismiss the claims of the non-Missouri plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction, at which point complete diversity would exist. Defendants also argued that diversity jurisdiction exists because Plaintiffs' claims have been fraudulently misjoined.

         On November 3, 2016, Plaintiffs filed the instant motion to remand this case, arguing that the Court should address subject matter jurisdiction before personal jurisdiction and that the Court should remand the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction because there is no complete diversity, no federal question jurisdiction, and no jurisdiction under CAFA. Defendants oppose the motion to remand.

         II. Legal Standard

         “A defendant may remove a state law claim to federal court only if the action originally could have been filed there.” In re Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 619 (8th Cir. 2010). See also 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). After removal, a plaintiff may move to remand the case to state court, and the case should be remanded if it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The party invoking federal jurisdiction and seeking removal bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction, and all doubts about federal jurisdiction are resolved in favor of remand. Central Iowa Power Co-op, v Midwest Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904, 912 (8th Cir. 2009).

         III. Discussion

         “It 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). The parties' first dispute concerns whether the Court should first consider the issue of subject matter jurisdiction or the issue of personal jurisdiction. Plaintiffs argue that the Court should first consider whether it has subject matter jurisdiction over the case, and that it should find no subject matter jurisdiction and remand the case. Defendants argue that the Court should first consider whether it has personal jurisdiction over particular Plaintiffs' claims, dismiss any claims over which it does not have personal jurisdiction, and only then evaluate whether it has subject matter jurisdiction.

         In Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574 (1999), the Supreme Court recognized that “in most instances subject-matter jurisdiction will involve no arduous inquiry, ” and it stated that “[i]n 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. However, the Supreme Court also held that where the question of personal jurisdiction is straightforward and presents no complex question of state law, and the alleged defect in subject matter jurisdiction raises a difficult and novel question, courts have the discretion to consider personal jurisdiction first. 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.”).

         After consideration of both parties' arguments, Court finds that the subject matter jurisdiction question here is straightforward and involves no arduous inquiry, and therefore the Court will exercise its discretion to consider its subject matter jurisdiction first. This approach is consistent with the approach taken by judges in this district in similar cases-several of which were nearly identical to the instant case and involved the same defendants. See, e.g., Jones v. Bayer Corp., No. 4:16-CV-1192-JCH, 2016 WL 7230433, at *2 n.3 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 14, 2016); Tenny v. Bayer Healthcare, LLC, No. 4:16-CV-1189-RLW, 2016 WL 7235705, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 13, 2016); Dorman v. Bayer Corp., No. 4:16-CV-601-HEA, 2016 WL 7033765, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 2, 2016). See also Wilcox v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharms. Inc., No. 4:16-CV-753-HEA, ECF No. 27 (E.D. Mo. Dec. 7, 2016); Clark v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 4:15-CV-546-HEA, 2015 WL 4648019, at *2 (E.D. Mo. Aug. 5, 2015).

         The Court will consider each of the three bases for federal subject matter jurisdiction asserted in ...

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