ST. LOUIS – In a ruling made on March 20, the U.S. District Court Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division remanded a multi-plaintiff lawsuit against Janssen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Johnson & Johnson and Janssen Research and Development.
The defendants filed the motion to dismiss the claims of the out-of-state plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction and for failure to state a claim, while the plaintiffs filed a motion to remand, the district court said.
“The court finds it does not have subject-matter jurisdiction to hear this case, and will remand this case to the Circuit Court of the City of St. Louis,” U.S. District Judge Henry Edward Autrey wrote.
According to the court, the plaintiffs filed suit on June 13, 2016, in the Circuit of the City of St. Louis, alleging that they suffered serious injury and damages from the drug Risperdal.
The plaintiffs cited negligence, fraud, strict product liability-failure to warn, strict product liability, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty and unfair and deceptive trade practices, the district court said.
The defendants moved the case to the federal court, saying all the parties involved in the case are from different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, according to the court.
The defendants also argued that all of the non-Missouri plaintiffs should be dismissed from the case and the court’s diversity jurisdiction should apply to the remaining Missouri plaintiffs’ claims.
“Defendants claim that their notice of removal was also timely under 28 U.S.C. § 1446(c)(1), which provides that an action may not be removed after one year from the date of commencement ‘unless the district court finds that the plaintiff has acted in bad faith in order to prevent a defendant from removing the action,’” the judge wrote.
The defendants said the plaintiffs acted in bad faith by “including nondiverse plaintiffs in the case for the purpose of evading federal jurisdiction.”
The plaintiffs filed a timely motion to remand and argued that no bad faith has been shown, the court said.
“Despite the lack of complete diversity on the face of the complaint, defendants assert that federal diversity jurisdiction exists because this court does not have general jurisdiction over the defendants to hear plaintiffs’ claims, and none of the out-of-state plaintiffs can establish specific personal jurisdiction over the defendants in Missouri,” the court said.
The defendants added that that citizenship of all non-Missouri plaintiffs should be dismissed because their claims were “fraudulently joined" and the plaintiffs "can’t establish personal jurisdiction in any Missouri court.”
“Plaintiffs assert that there is a lack of complete diversity of the parties and no federal question is raised,” the court said.
Citing subject matter jurisdiction, the court said “It is undisputed that the parties in this case are not diverse and diversity jurisdiction does not exist."
“The court will follow the established line of removed cases in this district involving the drug Risperdal, the same defendants, and the same issues, and remand this case to state court for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction,” the judge wrote.
The court also rejected the defendants' claim that plaintiffs engaged in bad faith.