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Sangimino v. Bayer Corp.

United States District Court, N.D. California

June 9, 2017

ELIZABETH SANGIMINO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BAYER CORP., et al., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING MOTION TO REMAND AND DENYING AS MOOT MOTION TO DISMISS

          WILLIAM ALSUP, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendants removed this product liability action from state court on the grounds that it presents a federal question. Plaintiffs now move to remand, and defendants move to dismiss. For the reasons stated below, the motion to remand is Granted, and the motion to dismiss is Denied as moot.

         STATEMENT

         Plaintiffs are 59 women who had Essure, a permanent contraceptive device, implanted in their fallopian tubes. This action arises from medical complications plaintiffs suffered as a result of alleged defects in the Essure device. Plaintiffs brought five claims under California law including (1) negligence, (2) strict products liability, (3) breach of express warranty, (4) breach of implied warranty, and (5) fraud.

         Defendants removed this action from the Superior Court of Contra Costa County in March 2017 based on federal-question jurisdiction, claiming that plaintiffs' claims arise under federal law, and then moved to dismiss all claims. Plaintiffs now move to remand, contending that their complaint does not raise a federal question. This order follows full briefing and oral argument.

         ANALYSIS

         1. Federal-Question Jurisdiction.

         District courts have jurisdiction over civil cases arising under the Constitution, laws and treaties of the United States - so-called federal-question jurisdiction. 28 U.S.C. 1331. When such a case is filed in state court, defendants may remove it to federal district court. 28 U.S.C. 1441(b). Absent a proper basis for removal, however, a case must be remanded. Steel Co. v. Citizens for a Better Env't, 523 U.S. 83, 96 (1998).

         The question of whether a claim “‘arises under' federal law is determined by reference to the ‘well-pleaded complaint.'” Merrell Dow Pharms., Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808 (1986) (quoting Franchise Tax Bd. of State of Cal. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Trust for S. California, 463 U.S. 1, 8 (1983)). “It is settled law that a case may not be removed to federal court on the basis of a federal defense, including a defense of preemption, even if the defense is anticipated in the plaintiff's complaint, and even if both parties concede that the federal defense is the only question truly at issue.” Balcorta v. Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp., 208 F.3d 1102, 1106 (9th Cir. 2000) (quoting Franchise Tax Bd., 463 U.S. at 8).

         In the vast majority of cases, “arising under federal law” means that the plaintiff has pled a federal claim. Merrell Dow, 478 U.S. at 808. There is, however, a second path to federal- question jurisdiction. If a plaintiff does not present a federal claim, a federal court may nevertheless retain jurisdiction if federal issues presented by the claims are “(1) necessarily raised, (2) actually disputed, (3) substantial, and (4) capable of resolution in federal court without disrupting the federal-state balance approved by Congress.” Gunn v. Minton, 133 S.Ct. 1059, 1065 (2013) (listing requirements enumerated in Grable & Sons Metal Prod., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 308 (2005)). Since plaintiffs have pled only state-law claims, the question is whether defendants have failed to satisfy any element of this four-part test.

         A. Necessarily Raised.

         “[F]ederal jurisdiction is unavailable unless it appears that some substantial, disputed question of federal law is a necessary element of one of the well-pleaded state claims . . . .” Franchise Tax Bd., 463 U.S. at 13. “When a claim can be supported by alternative and independent theories - one of which is a state law theory and one of which is a federal law theory - federal-question jurisdiction does not attach because federal law is not a necessary element of the claim.” Rains v. Criterion Sys., Inc., 80 F.3d 339, 344 (9th Cir. 1996) (citing Christianson v. Colt Indus. Operating Corp., 486 U.S. 800 (1988)).

         Here, none of plaintiffs' claims relies on federal violations as a necessary element. Scrubbed of any mention of federal law, plaintiffs' complaint still pleads each element of each claim. Therefore, the complaint does not satisfy the “necessarily raised” prong of ...


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