United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
C. Hamilton, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand, (ECF No. 23) filed December 19, 2018, and on the
Motion of Third-Party Plaintiff Bridgeton Landfill, LLC.,
seeking remand, (ECF No. 26) filed December 21, 2018. The
matter is fully briefed and ready for disposition.
4, 2017, Plaintiffs filed their Complaint in State Court in
the Circuit Court of St. Louis County, Missouri. Plaintiffs
allege that they are extended members of the Boenker family,
and are owners of the Boenker family farm, which lies
adjacent to the Westlake Landfill and Bridgeton
Landfill. Plaintiffs also allege that the Defendants
accepted radioactive waste without proper license, and that
the radioactive waste spread to Boenker land causing the
Plaintiffs' personal injuries, property damages, and the
need for medical monitoring. Plaintiffs allege that
radioactive waste was accepted by the landfills in 1973; that
the radioactive waste came from the Cotter Corporation; and
that the Landfills owner/operator failed to seek proper
licensing from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) prior
to receipt of the material.
9, 2017, the Defendants removed this matter from State Court
to Federal Court pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
Defendants contended that this Court had subject-matter
jurisdiction over Plaintiff's cause of action because it
“arises under” federal law, the Price Anderson
Act (PAA). Plaintiffs argued that the PAA is inapplicable. 28
U.S.C. § 1331. On October 20, 2017, this Court remanded
the matter on the basis that a license or an indemnity
agreement is required for federal subject matter under the
October 11, 2018, Defendant Bridgeton brought a third-party
claim against Third-Party Defendant Cotter Corporation
seeking tort based contribution for any damages assessed
against Bridgeton based on Plaintiffs' claims. Defendant
Bridgeton alleges that the radioactive waste was owned and
placed at the landfill by Cotter. Third-Party Defendant
Cotter Corporation was served with Third-Party Petition on
November 15, 2018, and filed for Removal on December 7, 2018
citing 28 U.S.C. §§ 1331, 1332, 1441 and 1446. Both
Defendant Bridgeton and Plaintiffs argue that Third-Party
Defendant Cotter Corporation cannot properly remove because a
third-party claim cannot be removed under 28 U.S.C. §
1441 if it is tied to the main claim. (ECF Nos. 24, 26).
Plaintiff requests oral argument. (ECF No. 23). Third-Party
Defendant Cotter Corporation argues that despite the
procedural arguments presented by Plaintiffs and Defendant
Bridgeton, the Court should nonetheless evaluate their claim
on the merits and find that federal subject matter
jurisdiction exists in this case. Plaintiffs argue that
because Defendant Bridgeton seeks contribution from
Third-Party Defendant Cotter Corporation based solely on
liability to the Plaintiff under State law, and not the PAA,
no federal question is presented.
district courts have original jurisdiction over “all
civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
“The presence or absence of federal-question
jurisdiction is governed by the ‘well pleaded complaint
rule,' which provides that federal jurisdiction exists
only when a federal question is presented on the face of the
plaintiff's properly pleaded complaint.”
Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482, U.S. 386, 392
(1987)(citation omitted). See also, Gaming Corp.
of America v. Dorsey & Whitney, 88 F.3d 536, 542
(8th Cir. 1996) (“The ‘well-pleaded complaint
rule' requires that a federal cause of action must be
stated on the face of the complaint before the defendant may
remove the action based on federal question
jurisdiction.”) (quoting Caterpillar, 482 U.S.
at 392). Because federal law provides that Plaintiffs are the
“masters of the complaint, ” plaintiffs
“may avoid federal jurisdiction by exclusive reliance
on state law.” Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 392.
is however an exception to the well pleaded complaint rule in
cases where “‘a federal statute wholly displaces
the state-law cause of action through complete
preemption.'” Hall v. USAble Life, 774
F.Supp.2d 953, 955 (E.D. Ark. 2011)(quoting, Aetna
Health, Inc. v. Davila, 542 U.S. 200, 207-8 (2004)).
Even in situations where a cause of action based on federal
statute does not appear on the face of the complaint,
preemption based on a federal statutory scheme may apply in
circumstances where “the pre-emptive force of a statute
is so extraordinary that it converts an ordinary state
common-law complaint into one stating a federal claim.”
Caterpillar, 482 U.S. at 393 (internal quotation and
citation omitted). See, e.g., Metro. Life Ins. Co. v.
Taylor, 481 U.S. 58 (1987) (discussing the preemptive
force of ERISA). “Where a complaint raises issues to
which federal law applies with complete preemptive force, the
[c]ourt must look beyond the face of the complaint in
determining whether remand is proper.” Green v.
Arizona Cardinals Football Club, LLC, 21 F.Supp.3d 1020,
1025 (E.D. Mo. 2014).
as otherwise expressly provided by Congress, civil actions
for which the district courts of the United States have
original jurisdiction may be removed from State court to
federal district court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a), 1446.
A party opposing removal may file a motion to remand to State
Court. 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). The party removing and
opposing remand has the burden of establishing federal
jurisdiction. See In re Business Men's Assur. Co. of
America, 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir. 1983)(per curiam).
Upon considering a motion to remand, a district court is
“required to resolve all doubts about federal
jurisdiction in favor of remand.” Id.(citing
Steel Valley Auth. V. Union Switch & Signal
Div., 809 F.2d 1006, 1010 (3rd Cir. 1987)). See
also, Transit Cas. Co. v. Certain Unterwriters at Lloyds of
London, 119 F.3d 619, 625 (8th Cir. 1997).
28 U.S.C. §1441(a) allows a case to be removed if
“the district courts of the United States have original
jurisdiction.” 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A third-party
claim cannot be removed under 28 U.S.C. § 1441 if it is
tied to the main claim. Lewis v. Windsor Door Co., a Div.
of Ceco Corp., 926 F.2d 729, 733 (8th Cir.
1991)(“We do not believe that the remote, ancillary
possibility of a third-party claim not yet matured can
constitute a basis for removal of a third-party claim which
is not separate and independent of the plaintiff's
Eighth Circuit has indicated that, in extremely limited
circumstances, a third-party defendant may have a right of
removal under §1441(c).” Lytle v. Lytle,
982 F.Supp. 671 (E.D. Mo. 1997)(citing, Lewis v. Windsor
Door Co., 926 F.2d 729, 734 (8th Cir. 1991). Under
§1441(c) removal may be proper “whenever a
separate and independent claim or cause of action
within the jurisdiction conferred by section 1331 of this
title is joined with one or more otherwise non-removable
claims or causes of action.” 28 U.S.C. §
1441(c)(emphasis added). Title 28 U.S.C. § 1331 grants
jurisdiction to “all civil actions arising under”
federal law. 28 U.S.C. § 1331. Third-Party Defendant
Cotter Corporation argues that Defendant's claim for
contribution is separate and independent from the
Plaintiff's claims for personal injury; that the
contribution claim may implicate the PAA and therefore
federal subject matter jurisdiction should apply in this
Lewis v. Windsor Door Co., a Div. of Ceco Corp., 926
F.2d 729, 733 (8th Cir. 1991), a defendant named the federal
government as third-party defendant for indemnification under
the Federal Tort Claims Act (“FTCA”).
Lewis, 926 F.2d at 730. The government then removed
under the FTCA's provision for exclusive federal
jurisdiction. Id. The court in Lewis
determined that the third-party claim could not establish
federal jurisdiction when the third-party claim relied on
plaintiff's main claim which lacked federal jurisdiction.
Id. at 733. In the instant case, Defendant
Bridgeton's claim against Third-Party Defendant Cotter
Corporation is similarly for contribution. See,
4:17CV01645JCH (ECF No. 42)(E.D. Mo.)(remanding
Plaintiff's case to State court for lack of federal
jurisdiction). Without Plaintiff's claim ...