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In re Bard IVC Filters Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, D. Arizona

October 27, 2016

C.R. Bard, Inc., et al., Defendants. This Order Relates to: Oma Hardwick, et al., Plaintiffs, No. CV-16-02442-PHX-DGC


          David G. Campbell United States District Judge

         This case was originally filed in Missouri state court. Defendants removed the case to the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, and it was transferred to this Court to become part of this MDL proceeding. Defendants have filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction. See Docs. 9, 10 in Hardwick v. C.R. Bard, Inc., No. 2:16-cv-02442-PHX-DGC (E.D. Mo. July 8, 2016).[1] Plaintiffs have responded (E.D. Mo. Doc. 21) and filed a motion to remand (Doc. 3316). No party has requested oral argument. For the following reasons, the Court will grant Defendants' motion to dismiss and deny Plaintiffs' motion to remand.

         I. Background.

         The allegations of Plaintiffs' complaint are taken as true for purposes of this motion. Plaintiffs are eight unrelated persons from states other than Missouri. They are citizens of West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Louisiana, California, and Georgia. E.D. Mo. Doc. 1-1, ¶¶ 167, 169, 171, 173, 175, 177, 181. Plaintiff Rudolph Iglewski is a citizen of Arizona. Id., ¶ 179.

         Defendant C.R. Bard, Inc. is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in New Jersey. Id., ¶ 16. Defendant Bard Peripheral Vascular, Inc. (“BPV”) is a wholly-owned subsidiary of C.R. Bard, Inc., with its principal place of business in Arizona. Id., ¶ 17. Defendants manufacture a line of Inferior Vena Cava (“IVC”) filters designed to capture blood clots that travel from lower portions of the body to the heart and lungs. Id., ¶¶ 1-2, 25-27.

         On July 7, 2016, Plaintiffs filed this action against Defendants C.R. Bard, Inc. and BPV (collectively “Bard”) in the Circuit Court for the Twenty-Second Judicial Circuit, St. Louis City, Missouri. See Id. at 1. Plaintiffs allege, as do the plaintiffs in this MDL, that they each received a Bard IVC filter and have suffered injury as a “direct and proximate result of Defendants' negligence and wrongful conduct, and the unreasonably dangerous and defective characteristics of Bard IVC Filters.” E.D. Mo. Doc. 1-1, ¶ 183.

         On July 8, 2016, Bard removed this case to federal court in the Eastern District of Missouri on the basis of diversity jurisdiction, and requested transfer to this MDL. See E.D. Mo. Doc. 1. Bard also moved to dismiss Plaintiffs' action for lack of personal jurisdiction. See E.D. Mo. Docs. 9-10. On September 6, 2016, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the case to Missouri state court. See Doc. 3316.

         II. Legal Standard.

         A civil case brought in state court may be removed to federal court in the district where the action is pending if the federal district court would have had original jurisdiction, including diversity jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441. Removal based on diversity jurisdiction is not proper if complete diversity of citizenship is lacking, but “[c]ourts have long recognized fraudulent joinder as an exception to the complete diversity rule.” In re Prempro Prods. Liab. Litig., 591 F.3d 613, 620 (8th Cir. 2010).[2]The removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, is to be strictly construed against removal. See Syngenta Crop Protection, Inc. v. Henson, 537 U.S. 28, 32 (2002); Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 108-09 (1941). A defendant seeking to remove a case to federal court carries the burden of establishing diversity jurisdiction, and “[a]ll doubts about federal jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of remand to state court.” In re Preempro, 591 F.3d at 620 (citation omitted); see 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).

         III. Analysis.

         In their notice of removal, Defendants asserted that the diversity-destroying Plaintiff, Rudolph Iglewski of Arizona, was fraudulently joined because his claims have no reasonable basis in Missouri. E.D. Mo. Doc. 1 at 10-11. In their motion to dismiss, Defendants argue that this Court lacks personal jurisdiction over Defendants because no Plaintiff asserts sufficient facts to establish such personal jurisdiction in any Missouri court. E.D. Mo. Docs 9-10; Doc. 3397 at 3-8. In their response and motion to remand, Plaintiffs argue that the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction because complete diversity is lacking (due to the Arizona citizenship of both Iglewski and BPV), Defendants therefore improperly removed this case to federal court, and, in ruling on the various motions, the Court must decide subject matter jurisdiction before addressing personal jurisdiction, which will result in immediate remand. E.D. Mo. Doc. 21; Doc. 3316. Plaintiffs also argue that they are not fraudulently joined because all Plaintiffs allege injuries arising from the same product and common facts (Doc. 3316-1 at 4-10), and “the obvious lack of federal subject matter jurisdiction precludes consideration of the [personal jurisdiction] issues raised in Defendants' motion to dismiss” (E.D. Mo. Doc. 21 at 4; see also Doc. 3316-1 at 10-11). The Court will first determine whether it must decide subject matter jurisdiction before personal jurisdiction.

         A. Priority of Jurisdictional Arguments.

         “Jurisdiction to resolve cases on the merits requires both authority over the category of claim in suit (subject matter jurisdiction) and authority over the parties (personal jurisdiction), so that the court's decision will bind them.” Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 577 (1999). “[I]n cases removed from state court to federal court, as in cases originating in federal court, there is no unyielding jurisdictional hierarchy.” Id. at 578. “[I]n most instances subject-matter jurisdiction will involve no arduous inquiry. In such cases, both expedition and sensitivity to state courts' coequal stature should impel the federal court to dispose of that issue first.” Id. at 587-88 (citations omitted). But where “a district court has before it a straightforward personal jurisdiction issue presenting no complex question of state law, and the alleged defect in subject matter jurisdiction raises a difficult and novel question, the court does not abuse its discretion by turning directly to personal jurisdiction.” Id. at 588; see also Crawford v. F. Hoffman-La Roche Ltd., 267 F.3d 760, 764 (8th Cir. 2001) (“certain threshold issues, such as personal jurisdiction, may be taken up without a finding of subject-matter jurisdiction, provided that the threshold issue is simple when compared with the issue of subject-matter jurisdiction.”).

         Plaintiffs argue that subject matter jurisdiction analysis in this case is simple because complete diversity is lacking. Doc. 3316-1 at 2. They ask the Court to remand the case for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and leave the ...

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