United States District Court, C.D. California
Present The Honorable ANDRÉ BIROTTE JR., United States
CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL
[In Chambers] ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND
the Court is a Motion to Remand (“Motion, ” Dkt.
No. 12), filed by Plaintiff Marciela Gutierrez
(“Plaintiff”). Defendants Johnson & Johnson
and Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc. (collectively,
“Defendants”) filed an opposition, and Plaintiff
filed a reply. (Dkt. Nos. 13, 18.) The Court resolves the
Motion without oral argument and VACATES the
hearing set for July 12, 2019. See Fed. R. Civ. P.
78; C.D. Cal. L.R. 7-15. For the following reasons, the
Motion is GRANTED.
initially filed this action in Los Angeles County Superior
Court, asserting purely state-law claims against Defendants
for allegedly exposing Plaintiff to talcum powder containing
asbestos that caused Plaintiff's mesothelioma and/or
wrongful death. (Dkt. Nos. 1, 12.) Defendants removed the
action on April 24, 2019, alleging that there is subject
matter jurisdiction because Plaintiff's claim is related
to a pending bankruptcy filed by Defendant Imerys Talc
America, Inc. (“Imerys”), the talcum powder
supplier. Thus, Defendants allege that this Court has
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1452(a), Removal of
Claims related to Bankruptcy Cases, which allows a party to
“remove any claim or cause of action in a civil action
. . . to the district court for the district where such
action is pending.” Once the claim is removed, the
court to which the claim has been removed “may remand
such claim or cause of action on any equitable ground.”
28 U.S.C. § 1452(b). Assuming the Court does have
jurisdiction over the action, the Court concludes that
equitable grounds support remand.
have looked to several factors in assessing whether
“equitable grounds” exist to remand actions
removed under § 1452(a):
These factors have included, among other things, judicial
economy, comity and respect for state law decision-making
capabilities, the impact that remand would have upon the
orderly administration of the debtor's bankruptcy case,
the effect of bifurcating claims and parties to an action and
the possibilities of inconsistent results the predominance of
state law issues and nondebtor parties, and the extent of any
prejudice to nondebtor parties.
In re TIG Ins. Co., 264 B.R. 661, 665-66 (Bankr.
S.D. Cal. 2001) (citing W. Helicopters, Inc. v. Hiller
Aviation, Inc., 97 B.R. 1, 2 (E.D. Cal. 1988)). The
“on any equitable ground” standard “affords
an unusually broad grant of authority, ” under which
the Court may remand “if any one of the relevant
factors . . . provide a sufficient basis for equitable
remand.” Stichting Pensioenfonds ABP v. Countrywide
Fin. Corp., 447 B.R. 302, 310 (C.D. Cal. 2010) (quoting
In re Roman Catholic Bishop of San Diego, 374 B.R.
756, 761 (S.D. Cal. 2007)).
removed the action to this Court with the intention of moving
to transfer it to the United States District Court for the
District of Delaware (“District of Delaware”),
where Imerys filed its bankruptcy petition. (See
Notice of Removal ¶ 7, Dkt. No. 1.) Defendants filed a
Motion to Fix Venue in the District of Delaware for claims
related to Imerys's bankruptcy under 28 U.S.C.
§§ 157(b)(5) and 1334(b) in an effort to centralize
the thousands of pending claims. (Dkt. No. 1-4, Ex. C, pt.
2.) Defendants argue that the District of Delaware has the
“sole authority” to fix venue in this action and
thus, this Court should await the District of Delaware's
decision on the venue motion before issuing a ruling on this
Motion. (Dkt. No. 13 at 10.)
Plaintiff, a California resident, commenced this action in
state court. Forcing Plaintiff, who is suffering from
mesothelioma, to wait and litigate in an inconvenient,
out-of-state forum would be inequitable. Plaintiff would be
further prejudiced by the removal of this action to federal
court because Plaintiff's claims have been pending in
state court since January 2019 and are the subject of
statewide proceedings with other related actions in state
court. (See Dkt. No. 1-1.) Coordination of these
actions minimizes the number of inconsistent rulings.
Uniformity further favors remand because a number of courts
in this district have remanded similar cases on the same
grounds. (Dkt. No. 19.) Judicial economy also supports remand
because litigating in this Court would unnecessarily
duplicate judicial resources. Finally, comity favors
remanding this case to state court because Plaintiff alleges
only state law claims. See Estate of Scott v.
Cervantes, No. CV 08-03293 MMM (CWx), 2008 WL 11337657,
at *4 (C.D. Cal. July 29, 2008) (“Where issues of state
law predominate, comity . . . favors remand.”); see
also McCarthy, 230 B.R at 418 (“State courts are,
by definition, fully competent to resolve disputes governed
by state law.”).
foregoing reasons, the Court GRANTS
Plaintiff's Motion to Remand and directs the Clerk to
REMAND this action to Los Angeles County