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Jordan v. Bayer Corp.

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

July 14, 2017

LAVETA JORDAN, et al., Plaintiffs,
BAYER CORP., et al., Defendants.



         This matter is before the Court on defendants' motion to dismiss pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 8, 9(b), 12(b)(2), and 12(b)(6), and defendants' motion to sever. Also before the Court are plaintiffs' motions to remand and stay this action. The issues are fully briefed.

         I. Background

         On January 19, 2017, the plaintiffs initiated this action in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis, Missouri to recover damages for injuries they allegedly sustained as a result of using Essure, a medical device manufactured and sold by the defendants. In the complaint, plaintiffs assert claims of (1) negligence, (2), negligence per se, (3) negligent misrepresentation, (4) strict liability for failure to warn and manufacturing defects, (5) fraud, (6) constructive fraud, (7) fraudulent concealment, (8) breach of express and implied warranties, (9) violations of assorted state consumer protection laws, (10) Missouri products liability under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.760, (11) violation of the Missouri Merchandising Practices Act under Mo. Rev. Stat. § 407.020, and (12) gross negligence.

         Of the 94 plaintiffs, seven are citizens of Missouri. One plaintiff is an Illinois citizen who allegedly had the device implanted in Missouri. The remaining plaintiffs are citizens of 25 different states.

         On March 9, 2017, defendants Bayer Corporation, Bayer Essure, Inc., Bayer HealthCare LLC, and Bayer HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., jointly removed the action to this Court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1332.[1] Bayer Corporation is a citizen of New Jersey and Indiana; Bayer Healthcare LLC is a citizen of Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Germany, and the Netherlands; Bayer Essure, Inc. and Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc., are citizens of Delaware and New Jersey; and Bayer A.G. is a German corporation.[2] Some of the plaintiffs are citizens of Delaware, Indiana, and Pennsylvania. Despite the lack of complete diversity on the face of the complaint, defendants argue that they properly removed this case. Specifically, they contend that removal was proper because the diversity-destroying plaintiffs were misjoined, jurisdiction lies under the Class Action Fairness Act, and plaintiffs plead violations of federal law, thus invoking federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiffs counter that all of the claims are properly joined, and the Court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction over this action in the absence of complete diversity of the parties. They also contest defendants' assertion that federal question jurisdiction exists here. Plaintiffs urge the Court to refrain from ruling on the defendants' motions and instead rule on their remand motion first.

         In their motion to dismiss, the defendants assert (1) lack of personal jurisdiction over the out-of-state plaintiffs' claims, (2) forum non-conveniens with respect to the out-of-state plaintiffs' claims, (3) express and implied preemption, (4) failure to state a claim on which relief can be granted, and (5) failure to plead fraud claims with particularity. Defendants argue that the Court should address the “straightforward” personal jurisdiction issues first. [Doc. #4].

         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) (citing Phipps v. FDIC, 417 F.3d 1006, 1010 (8th Cir. 2005)). The removing defendant bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction by a preponderance of the evidence. Altimore v. Mount Mercy Coll., 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, 591 F.3d at 620 (citing Wilkinson v. Shackelford, 478 F.3d 957, 963 (8th Cir. 2007)). A case must be remanded if, at anytime, it appears that the district court lacks subject-matter jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c); Fed.R.Civ.P. 12(h)(3).

         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 requirement that jurisdiction be established as a threshold matter ‘spring[s] from the nature and limits of the judicial power of the United States, ' and is ‘inflexible and without exception.'” Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 94-95 (1998) (quoting Mansfield, C. & L.M.R. Co. v. Swan, 111 U.S. 379, 382 (1884)). Defendants argue that, in this case, the Court should dismiss the claims of the non-Missouri plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction before addressing subject matter jurisdiction.

         Under Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., the Court has discretion to determine whether to consider its subject-matter jurisdiction or personal jurisdiction first. 526 U.S. 574, 578 (1999) (holding that “[c]ustomarily, a federal court first resolves doubts about its jurisdiction over the subject matter, but there are circumstances in which a district court appropriately accords priority to a personal jurisdiction inquiry, ” or otherwise stated, “there is no unyielding jurisdictional hierarchy”). “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.'” Id. at 586 (quoting Allen v. Ferguson, 791 F.2d 611, 616 (7th Cir. 1986)). Conversely, a district court may also prioritize “judicial economy and restraint.” Id. And if personal jurisdiction “turns on federal constitutional issues, ‘federal intrusion into state courts' authority . . . is minimized.'” Id. at 586-87 (quoting Asociacion Nacional de Pescadores v. Dow Quimica, 988 F.2d 559, 566 (5th Cir. 1993)).

         Defendants argue that the claims of the 86 non-Missouri plaintiffs should be dismissed for lack of personal jurisdiction.[3] In this case the Court will prioritize the personal jurisdiction inquiry, which involves significant federal constitutional and judicial economy concerns. Ruhrgas AG, 526 U.S. at 578. Moreover, recent decisions have made personal jurisdiction the more straightforward inquiry. Siegfried v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm., Inc., No. 4:16-CV-1942 (CDP), 2017 WL 2778107, at *2-3 (E.D. Mo. June 27, 2017).

         Personal ...

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