United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Southeastern Division
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
STEPHEN N. LIMBAUGH, JR., UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
matter comes before the Court on plaintiff Tandy Ray
King's motion to remand (#19), which is fully briefed.
For the reasons set forth below, that motion is
GRANTED and this case is hereby
REMANDED back to the Circuit Court of Maury
following facts are taken from plaintiff's complaint and
are treated as true for purposes here.
is a tobacco farmer who owns and operates a farm in Columbia,
Tennessee. He alleges dicamba frequently causes “injury
to off-target vegetation, ” including to his own
property after Maury Farmers Cooperative purportedly sprayed
his neighbor's farm with dicamba. Plaintiff has sued
Maury Farmers for negligence in its application of dicamba.
has also sued Monsanto, Bayer (which acquired Monsanto in
2018), and BASF (collectively “defendants”).
Plaintiff alleges “Monsanto and BASF sold [new]
formulations of dicamba” that they knew were “not
appreciably less volatile than prior formulations” as
part of a scheme to “force farmers to defensively plant
Xtend crops in future growing seasons.” The term
“Xtend crops” more specifically refers to a joint
collaboration between Monsanto and BASF that resulted in the
“Roundup Ready Extend Crop System, designed as and
consisting of seed[s] containing the dicamba-resistant trait
and [corresponding] dicamba herbicide[s]” including
“Xtendimax, Engenia, and Fexapan[.]” In essence,
plaintiff argues Monsanto and BASF conspired to create a
dicamba-centric crop system that, due to dicamba's
continued volatility, forced many farmers to either buy into
that system or else face widespread crop damages.
now seeks remand after defendants jointly removed this case
from the Circuit Court of Maury County, Tennessee, on the
basis of federal question and diversity jurisdiction. He
argues his “complaint does not present a federal
question” and, moreover, “there is no diversity
[in this case] because  Maury County Farmers Cooperative is
[a company] based in Maury County[, ] Tennessee.” Maury
Farmers, for its part, has joined plaintiff's motion and
says this case should be remanded to state court.
STANDARD OF REVIEW
statutes are strictly construed. In Re Business Men's
Assur. Co. of America, 992 F.2d 181, 183 (8th Cir.
1993). Any doubts about the propriety of removal are to be
resolved in favor of remand. Central Iowa Power Co-op. v.
Indep. Transmission Sys. Operator, Inc., 561 F.3d 904,
912 (8th Cir. 2009). The party seeking removal has the burden
to establish federal subject matter jurisdiction.
Id. A civil action brought in state court may be
removed to a proper district court if that district court has
original jurisdiction over the lawsuit. 28 U.S.C. §
1441(a). District courts have “original jurisdiction of
all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or
treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331.
determine whether a claim arises under federal law,
“[t]he general rule- known as the ‘well-pleaded
complaint rule'-is that a complaint must state on its
face a federal cause of action in order for the action to be
removable on the basis of federal-question
jurisdiction.” Griffioen v. Cedar Rapids & Iowa
City Ry. Co., 785 F.3d 1182, 1188 (8th Cir. 2015).
However, a case may arise under federal law under the
“substantial federal question” doctrine when a
“state-law claim necessarily raise[s] a stated federal
issue, actually disputed and substantial, which a federal
forum may entertain without disturbing any congressionally
approved balance of federal and state
responsibilities.” Grable & Sons Metal Prods.,
Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 314
(2005). That said, a defendant cannot “inject a federal
question into an otherwise state-law claim and thereby
transform the action into one arising under federal
law.” Central Iowa Power Co-op., 561 F.3d at
912 (internal citation omitted). “If even one claim in
the complaint involves a substantial federal question, the
entire matter may be removed.” Pet Quarters, Inc.
v. Depository Trust & Clearing Corp., 559 F.3d 772,
779 (8th Cir. 2009) (citing Beneficial Nat'l Bank v.
Anderson, 539 U.S. 1, 9 (2003)).
Whether this Court Possesses Federal Question
arguing this Court has federal question jurisdiction over
this case, defendants focus narrowly on plaintiff's
state-law strict liability failure-to-warn claim and conclude
“[t]hough presented under state law, virtually every
element of plaintiff's failure to warn claim-duty,
materiality, reliance, causation-is governed by federal
law.” Defendants go on to suggest this case is
“virtually identical” to the issues confronted in
Bader Farms, Inc. v. Monsanto Co., 2017 WL 633815
(E.D. Mo. Feb. 16, 2017) (Limbaugh, J.).
Bader Farms, plaintiffs sought remand arguing their
nine-count complaint invoked only Missouri state law claims,
thereby avoiding federal question jurisdiction. Id.
at *1. This Court disagreed, finding that one of the nine
counts-asserting fraudulent concealment-necessarily presented
a substantial federal question. Id. at *2. The
fraudulent concealment count alleged, in essence, that
Monsanto concealed certain material facts that led the Animal
and Plant Health Inspection Service's
(“APHIS”) to deregulate and effectively
commercialize certain genetically-modified (“GE”)
seeds before a “complete crop system” had been
established. Specifically, Monsanto purportedly omitted the
“truth that there was a likelihood that farmers would
illegally use  old dicamba herbicide with their new GE
soybean and cotton seeds instead of waiting for a new
‘complete crop system' herbicide compatible with
the new seeds, ” knowing all along that the “old
dicamba would tend to drift onto and destroy the crops of
neighboring farmers.” Id. at *2. In holding
that “the outcome of the fraudulent concealment claim
necessarily depend[ed] on the interpretation and application
of the federal regulatory process under APHIS, ” this
Court explained plaintiff's fraudulent concealment count
was essentially “a collateral attack on the validity of
APHIS's decision to deregulate the new seeds.”
Id. at *3. Thus, despite not formally challenging