It’s very hard to win a fraudulent joinder motion on the merits and thus keep a case in federal court. In fact, when we looked back at the topic on the blog, our last post on the issue was over one year ago. And the two posts before that were from the Third Circuit
Last week we posted about the need to consider the level of detail and specificity you include in any filing. We happened to stumble across another case that prompted a word to the wise – proofread, proofread, proofread. Today’s case is a defense victory in the battle between state and federal forums, but perhaps more…
This post is from the Cozen side of the blog only.
The Third Circuit gets fraudulent joinder—as if the name of the doctrine isn’t enough to give it away. It refers to, quite simply, joining a defendant in a lawsuit for a purpose other than pursuing liability against that defendant. And so the Third Circuit,…
The Eastern District of Pennsylvania recently entered a fraudulent joinder order that is worth highlighting because it applies a fraudulent joinder standard that we think should apply more broadly. It has always puzzled us why courts are hesitant to find non-diverse or local defendants fraudulently joined. You know what we mean. A plaintiff from State…
Today’s guest post is from friend-of-the-blog Sarah Bunce, a partner at Tucker Ellis. It’s about the 8th Circuit finally having before it aspects of the effects of the current, bizarrely applied Missouri joinder and venue rules (see here) on federal jurisdiction. Not only is it about time, though, it may be…
We sometimes start our posts with disclaimers about how we do not know all the details of a case, perhaps supplemented by a little digging on the internet, or that we are not experts in some substantive area. We start this post with disclaimers that we (and our respective firms) are not involved in the case we are writing about (or the related cases mentioned in it) and we are not specialists in antitrust or patent law (although others at our respective firms are). We do know misjoinder, forum shopping, and judicial smackdowns when we see them, though. We typically encounter misjoinder when a bunch of individual plaintiffs from various places are listed on a single caption because they each are pursuing individual claims over injuries allegedly caused by the same or similar products. As long as at least one plaintiff is from where they have sued and at least one plaintiff is from the defendant’s home state, they all get to stay where their lawyers chose to sue, at least if they get their way. (Set aside CAFA for now.) When confronted with a motion to sever—or another motion that implicates the issue—they argue that joinder is perfectly appropriate because all cases against the manufacturer of product(s) are really about the same set of facts—i.e., the company designed a dangerous product and marketed it without adequate warnings of its risks.
Forum shopping is the other half of litigation tourism, as we often call it—like picking the campground for the family reunion. The lawyer’s reason for picking the court is typically not revealed, just that a plaintiff gets to pick and their choice should be afforded deference. We have yet to see a lawyer say they picked the venue where they felt they had the most influence with the bench and/or juries apt to put extra zeros on the damages in a case against an out-of-state defendant. That the plaintiff lawyers, rightly or wrongly, consider where to file and how to package their clients as part of their desire to maximize the total recovery by verdict or settlement—and their fees—should not be a shock to anyone. But we might suppose that the government lawyers trying to enforce the Federal Trade Commission Act and the Clayton Act might be above such base considerations.
Spring seems to be finally here in the mid-Atlantic region and we could think of nothing better to usher in spring than some personal jurisdiction and procedural wrangling. Every year, we see new cases with multiple plaintiffs thrown together filed in places the plaintiff lawyers want to litigate. Laws are enacted and big cases are decided that should curtail this practice, yet the cases keep popping up like longer-lasting and worse-smelling crocuses. The options available to defendants to break up, remove, transfer, or dismiss some or all of these multi-plaintiff state court actions have grown, but the plaintiff lawyers keep coming up with arguments for why their cases should stay put in the form and forum of their choosing. The case we are discussing today rejects one of the major recent arguments from the plaintiff lawyers to try to impose personal jurisdiction where it should not exist—“pendent jurisdiction.” Combined with the recent defense win on “jurisdiction by consent,” 2016 is starting out pretty well on this front.
If Sunday night’s Academy Awards show is propelling you towards your nearest movie theater to catch up on the nominated flicks, put The Revenant on the top of your list if you have not already seen it. Most of you probably know that there is a startling scene in The Revenant where a bear suddenly attacks the character played by Leonardo DiCaprio. (Leo acted truly surprised and dismayed. No surprise there; he is usually set upon by supermodels. Their claws are slightly less sharp.) It is an amazingly scary, overwhelming moment, leaving viewers shuddering and wondering ‘how-did-they-do-that?’
Perhaps every movie would benefit from a random bear attack. In The Big Short, wouldn’t it be swell if a grizzly paid a visit to an investment bank conference room just as a commercial mortgage backed securities transaction was about to close? Matt Damon had a tough time making it on his own on Mars, but think how much more challenging it would have been if a mama bear interrupted his gardening. There was certainly a lot of tension during the final prisoner exchange in Bridge of Spies, but it would have upped the ante if the East German snipers had to contend with ursine mischief. Nor need the benefits of beardom be confined to this year’s Oscar nominees. If we can colorize Citizen Kane or It’s a Wonderful Life, why can’t we insert bear attacks as Kane utters “Rosebud” or when Jimmy Stewart is about to take a sucker punch from a bar bouncer? Surely, a bear hug would have enlivened the slower moments in The King’s Speech or A Beautiful Mind? Or DiCaprio could have met that bear earlier, whilst scampering around the decks on the Titanic. The mind reels.
As we noted yesterday, Halloween may be behind us, but the scary decisions just keep on coming. Just about a month ago, we blogged about pending legislation (H.R. 3624), known as the “Fraudulent Joinder Prevention Act of 2015.” Today we blog about a case that demonstrates why that legislation is needed.
The case is Rosbeck v. Corin Group, PLC, 2015 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 145621 (D. Mass. Oct. 26, 2015). Plaintiff filed suit in state court in Massachusetts alleging he suffered injury as the result of the implantation of a hip resurfacing system. Plaintiff sued the manufacturers of the implant for negligence, breach of warranty, and consumer fraud. Plaintiff also sued the hospital at which the surgery was performed for breach of warranty. Id. at *6. The manufacturers, being diverse defendants, removed the case to federal court alleging that the non-diverse hospital was fraudulently joined. Id. at *2. Plaintiffs moved to remand.
Under First Circuit law, on a motion to remand, the manufacturing defendants had the burden of proving that plaintiff does not have a “reasonable possibility” of recovery against the non-diverse hospital. Id. at *7. Defendants asserted three reasons why they met that burden: (1) Massachusetts doesn’t recognize a claim for breach of warranty against a hospital for supplying a medical device as part of treatment; (2) the claim against the hospital is preempted; and (3) the claim against the hospital is barred by the stature of limitations. Id. at *10.