United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. White, United States District Judge.
matter is before the Court on numerous motions filed by the
parties. Currently pending are a Motion to Stay All
Proceedings (ECF No. 5) filed by Defendants Johnson &
Johnson and Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (collectively
referred to as "Johnson & Johnson
Defendants") and separate Motions to Dismiss
Plaintiffs' Petition for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction
filed by Defendants Cyprus Mines Corporation and Cyprus Amax
Minerals Company (ECF Nos. 19 & 20). Plaintiffs Rebecca
Bathon, Allan Bathon, and Diane Curran (collectively referred
to as "Plaintiffs") have filed several motions,
including a Motion to Remand (ECF No. 14), Motion for
Expedited Consideration of Their Motion to Remand (ECF No.
13), and separate Motions to Stay Proceedings Including Any
Action on Defendants Cyprus Mines Corporation's and
Cyprus Amax Minerals Company's Motions to Dismiss Pending
a Ruling on Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand (ECF No. 31
& 32). The Johnson & Johnson Defendants have also
filed a Motion for Leave to File Their Memorandum of Law In
Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand in Excess of
the Page Limitation (ECF No. 26) and Defendant Schnuck
Markets, Inc. has also filed an Unopposed Motion for
Enlargement of Time to File Answer or Otherwise Response to
Plaintiffs' Petition (ECF No. 30).
three plaintiffs filed this case in state court alleging that
the use of talc products caused damages related to the
development of ovarian cancer. The Johnson & Johnson
Defendants removed the case to federal court on the grounds
that diversity of citizenship exists because, inter
alia, the only Missouri-based Defendant, Schnuck
Markets, Inc., was fraudulently joined in this action.
ask for an expedited ruling from the Court remanding the case
to state court prior to the disposition of the Motion to
Stay. Defendants seek a stay of this matter pending transfer
to the multidistrict litigation now pending before Judge
Freda Wolfson in the United States District Court for the
District of New Jersey. See In re Johnson & Johnson
Talcum Powder Prods. Mktg., Sales Practices & Prods.
Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2738. Plaintiffs oppose the motion
to stay. The Court finds that a stay is appropriate in this
case and declines to address the other pending motions.
district court has inherent power to stay its
proceedings." Simmons v. GlaxoSmithKline, LLC,
No. 4:15CV1397 CDP, 2015 WL 6063926, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 14,
2015) (citation omitted). "In determining whether to
stay proceedings, a district court must exercise judgment by
weighing 'competing interests' and maintaining
'an even balance.'" Id. (quoting
Bledsoe v. Janssen Pharm., No. 4:05CV02330 ERW, 2006
WL 335450, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 13, 2006)). When
"considering a motion to stay, a Court should consider
both the interest of judicial economy and the potential
prejudice or hardship to the parties." Lafoy v.
Volkswagen Grp. of Am., Inc., No. 4:16CV00466, 2016 WL
2733161, at *2 (E.D. Mo. May 11, 2016) (citation omitted).
"However, '[a] putative transferor court need not
automatically postpone rulings on pending motions, or in any
way generally suspend proceedings, merely on grounds that an
MDL transfer motion has been filed.'" Spears v.
Fresenius Med. Care N. Am., Inc., No. 4:13CV855 CEJ,
2013 WL 2643302, at 1 (E.D. Mo. June 12, 2013) (quoting
T.F. v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 4:12CV1221 CDP, 2012 WL
3000229, at *1 (E.D. Mo. July 21, 2012) (internal quotation
argue that a stay pending transfer would promote judicial
economy and consistency of rulings. Further, Defendants
assert that absent a stay, the Court will waste time
supervising pretrial proceedings and ruling on motions in a
case that will soon be transferred to the MDL court. Further,
Defendants argue that they will be significantly prejudiced
and suffer hardship because they would be required to engage
in duplicate discovery and motions practice. In response,
Plaintiffs maintain removal was improper as complete
diversity does not exist. According to Plaintiffs, Schnuck
Markets, Inc. was not fraudulently joined and the Court
should rule on their Motion to Remand first.
Court finds that judicial economy weighs heavily in favor of
granting a stay in this matter. "A stay will allow
consistent pretrial rulings and conserve the resources of the
parties, counsel, and the judiciary." Simmons,
2015 WL 6063926, at *1. Further, the Court notes that other
recent cases presenting the same claims against the same
Defendants addressed the same stay and remand issues. In
those cases, the district judges stayed the proceedings
pending transfer to the MDL panel. See Kannady v. Johnson
& Johnson, No. 4:19CV292 RLW (E.D. Mo. Feb. 27,
2019); Benfordv. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:18-CV-1903 RLW (E.D. Mo. Nov. 28, 2018); Gavin v.
Johnson & Johnson, No. 4:18CV212 RLW (E.D. Mo. Mar.
6, 2018); Johnson v. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:17CV2651 SNLJ (E.D. Mo. Dec. 5, 2017); Jinright v.
Johnson & Johnson, No. 4:17CV01849 ERW (E.D. Mo.
Aug. 30, 2017); McBee v. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:17CV01496 JAR (E.D. Mo. June 9, 2017); Ghormley v.
Johnson & Johnson, No. 4:17CV585 CEJ (E.D. Mo. Apr.
27, 2017); Rice v. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:17CV01224 CDP (E.D. Mo. Apr. 10, 2017); Rea v. Johnson
& Johnson, No. 4:16CV2165 SNLJ (E.D. Mo. Feb. 22,
2017). Further, a separate case before this Court was
transferred to the MDL court despite the sole plaintiffs
similar argument that remand was appropriate as she and a
similar Missouri-based supermarket defendant, Dierbergs
Markets, Inc., were both Missouri citizens. Hannah v.
Johnson & Johnson, 4:17CV2647 RLW (E.D. Mo. Feb. 1,
2018). In the MDL Panel's Transfer Order in that case, it
explicitly noted the pending motion to remand challenging
subject matter jurisdiction was not a barrier to transfer:
"The Panel. . . has held that jurisdictional issues
generally do not present an impediment to transfer, as
plaintiffs can present these arguments to the transferee
judge." Id.; In re Johnson & Johnson
Talcum Powder Prods. Mktg., Sales Practices & Prods.
Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2738 (Jan. 31, 2018). The Court
finds no reason to depart from these cases. Therefore, the
Court will grant Defendants' motion to stay all
proceedings in this matter pending a decision by the MDL
court. The Court notes that Plaintiffs will have a full and
fair opportunity to present their arguments for remand to the
MDL court should the case be transferred to MDL No. 2738.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motions for
Joinder in Motion to Stay All Proceedings by Defendants
Cyprus Mines Corporation and Cyprus Amax Minerals Company
(ECF Nos. 23 & 24) are GRANTED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Johnson & Johnson
Defendants' Motion to Stay All Proceedings (ECF No. 5) is
GRANTED. This case shall be STAYED pending a
decision by the MDL Panel on whether to transfer this case to
MDL No. 2738 in the United States District Court for the
District of New Jersey.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that all other pending motions
are DENIED without prejudice., Dated this
C? day of May, 2019.