United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR. UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter is before the Court on plaintiffs' motion to
remand (#8) in McIvan Jones Farm, Inc. v. Monsanto
Co., 1:18-CV-21-SNLJ (E.D. Mo.). The matter was briefed
extensively, and the motion is now ripe. Plaintiffs'
motion will be granted because plaintiffs have not alleged
any state-law cause of action that depends on a substantial
issue of federal law.
Factual and Procedural Background
hope to represent any producer who grew soybeans that were
“not resistant to and [were] damaged by dicamba
herbicide.” (#2 at 29, ¶ 169). They claim Monsanto
released its dicamba-tolerant seed in 2015 and 2016 with no
corresponding dicamba herbicide. As a result, farmers
illegally sprayed an old formulation of dicamba herbicide
that was unapproved for in-crop, over-the-top, use, and was
“volatile, ” or prone to drift. This damaged
neighboring crops, which supposedly forced neighboring
farmers to plant Monsanto's dicamba-tolerant seed
defensively. In 2017, Monsanto finally released its dicamba
herbicide. This new dicamba formulation was approved for
in-crop use. Plaintiffs claim this new formulation is still
volatile and still damaged intolerant soybeans in neighboring
bring state-law counts for (1) strict
liability-ultrahazardous, (2) negligence, (3) strict
liability-defective design, and (4) trespass. Especially
relevant here, plaintiffs allege Monsanto was negligent due
to product labeling shortcomings.
filed this case in state court. Defendants removed under 28
U.S.C. § 1441(a), which allows a defendant to remove
“any civil action brought in a State court of which the
district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction[.]” Defendants claim this Court has
original federal question jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. §
1331, which grants federal district courts “original
jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the
Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.”
So this motion boils down to a simple question: does any one
of plaintiffs' claims arise under federal law?
question whether a claim ‘arises under' federal law
must be determined by reference to the ‘well-pleaded
complaint.'” Great Lakes Gas Transmission Ltd.
P'ship v. Essar Steel Minn. LLC, 843 F.3d 325, 329
(8th Cir. 2016) (alteration in original) (quoting Merrell
Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986)).
“The well-pleaded complaint rule ‘provides that
federal jurisdiction exists only when a federal question is
presented on the face of the plaintiff's properly pleaded
complaint.'” Id. (quoting Caterpillar
Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392 (1987)). As such,
“it is now settled law that a case may not be removed
to federal court on the basis of a federal defense, including
the defense of [ordinary] pre-emption, even if the defense is
anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint, and even if
both parties concede that the federal defense is the only
question truly at issue.” Caterpillar Inc.,
482 U.S. at 393.
“[f]ederal question jurisdiction exists if the
well-pleaded complaint establishes either  that federal
law creates the cause of action or  that the
plaintiff's right to relief necessarily depends on
resolution of a substantial question of federal law.”
Great Lakes Gas, 843 F.3d at 329 (quoting
Williams v. Ragnone, 147 F.3d 700, 702 (8th Cir. 1998)).
These are the two paths to federal-question jurisdiction.
See Dillon v. Medtronic, Inc., 992 F.Supp.2d 751,
755 (E.D. Ky. 2014).
first path, in which federal law creates the cause of action,
is the most common path to federal-question jurisdiction.
Merrell Dow, 478 U.S. at 808. The second path, in
which the well-pleaded complaint raises “significant
federal issues, ” Grable & Sons Metal Prod.,
Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312
(2005), is much less common. It “applies only to a
‘special and small category' of cases that present
‘a nearly pure issue of law, one that could be settled
once and for all and thereafter would govern numerous . . .
cases.'” Great Lakes Gas, 843 F.3d at 331
(alteration in original) (quoting Empire Healthchoice
Assur., Inc. v. McVeigh, 547 U.S. 677, 699-700 (2006)).
“The paradigmatic example of a state claim with an
embedded (though not necessarily significant) federal issue
is a common-law claim for negligence per se based on the
violation of a federal duty.” Dillon, 992
F.Supp.2d at 756.
case deals only with the second path to federal-question
jurisdiction. As the removing party, the burden to show that
this case belongs on the second, uncommon path is
Monsanto's. In re Business Men's Assur. Co. of
Am., 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1993).
Supreme Court recently explained the second path to
federal-question jurisdiction as follows: “[F]ederal
jurisdiction over a state law claim will lie if a federal
issue is: (1) necessarily raised, (2) actually disputed, (3)
substantial, and (4) capable of resolution in federal court
without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by
Congress.” Gunn v. Minton, 568 U.S. 251, 258
(2013) (interpreting Grable). All in all,
“Grable stands for the proposition that a
state-law claim will present a justiciable federal question
only if it satisfies both the well-pleaded complaint
rule and passes the ‘implicate[s] significant
federal issues' test. Cal. Shock Trauma Air Rescue v.
State Comp. Ins. Fund, 636 F.3d 538, 542 (9th Cir. 2011)
(alteration in original) (quoting Grable, 545 U.S.
at 311); see also Dillon, 992 F.Supp.2d at 757.
under the well-pleaded complaint test, the Court looks at
the complaint only to decide whether
“plaintiff's right to relief necessarily
depends on resolution of a substantial question of
federal law.” Great Lakes Gas, 843 F.3d at 329
(emphasis added) (quoting Williams, 147 F.3d at
702). So, the heart of this issue is whether an
element of one of plaintiffs' state-law claim
turns on a substantial federal question. See Dillon,
992 F.Supp.2d at 757 (“Even if they are substantial,
federal questions triggering jurisdiction must still appear
amid the elements of the plaintiff's cause of
action.”); 13D Charles Alan Wright et al., Federal
Practice & Procedure § 3566 (3d ...