United States District Court, E.D. Kentucky, Southern Division, Pikeville
OPINION AND ORDER
E. WIER, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Billy Handshoe filed suit in Floyd Circuit Court, alleging
damages as a result of the supposed failure of the Attune
Knee System, a device used during Handshoe's knee
replacement surgery. DE 1-1 Complaint ¶ 5. Handshoe
asserts claims against DePuy Synthes Sales, Inc. d/b/a DePuy
Synthes Joint Reconstruction and other related entities
associated with the design, manufacture, marketing, sale, or
distribution of the device (collectively, Device Defendants);
the hospital where Handshoe's knee replacement took
place, Highlands Hospital Corporation d/b/a Highlands
Regional Medical Center; and a DePuy sales representative for
the device, Dan Hopewell, LLC and Dan Hopewell (collectively,
Hopewell). Id. Â¶Â¶ 6-36 & Counts I-XII.
is a Kentucky citizen. Id. ¶ 5. Device
Defendants are citizens of Delaware, Indiana, Massachusetts,
New Jersey, the United Kingdom, and Ireland. DE 1
¶¶ 6-13. Highlands is a Kentucky citizen. Complaint
¶ 204. Citizenship of Dan Hopewell, LLC, follows the
citizenship of its sole member,  Dan Hopewell, who Device
Defendants allege is a Kentucky resident. DE 1 ¶ 13. In
short, Handshoe and Device Defendants are diverse, but
Handshoe, Highlands, and (likely) Hopewell share Kentucky
Defendants filed a notice of removal. DE 1. The Court then
ordered Device Defendants to show cause why the case should
not be remanded for lack of subject-matter jurisdiction. DE
6. Device Defendants (DE 22) and Handshoe (DE 38) responded.
Device Defendants replied. DE 40.
on lack of diversity, Handshoe moves to remand this case to
Floyd Circuit Court. DE 23. Device Defendants opposed. DE 39.
Handshoe replied. DE 41. The show-cause and motion filings
fully cover the relevant issues.
subject-matter jurisdiction of federal courts is limited.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 114 S.Ct.
1673, 1675 (1994). There is a presumption against federal
subject-matter jurisdiction, which the party seeking to
proceed in federal court must overcome. Id.
relevant to this matter, a federal court may exercise
subject-matter jurisdiction based on diversity of
citizenship. 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). Diversity must be
complete- that is, no plaintiff may share state citizenship
with any defendant. Jerome-Duncan, Inc. v. Auto-By-Tel,
L.L.C., 176 F.3d 904, 907 (6th Cir. 1999).
federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1441, authorizes
removal of cases from state courts to federal courts that
would have had original jurisdiction over the action. §
1441(a)-(b). “The party seeking removal bears the
burden of demonstrating that the district court has original
jurisdiction.” Eastman v. Marine Mech. Corp.,
438 F.3d 544, 549-50 (6th Cir. 2006). The Court must resolve
all doubts about the propriety of contested removal in favor
of remand and strictly construe removal statutes.
Id.; Coyne ex rel. Ohio v. Am. Tobacco Co.,
183 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 1999).
as the removing party invoking federal jurisdiction, Device
Defendants must demonstrate a jurisdictional basis. Despite
the presence of three non-diverse defendants, Device
Defendants argue that the Court has diversity-based
subject-matter jurisdiction. Device Defendants ask the Court
to disregard Highlands's citizenship because Handshoe
fraudulently misjoined his hospital-negligence claim with the
products-liability and other claims against Device
Defendants. Device Defendants further contend that
Hopewell's citizenship is irrelevant because Handshoe
fraudulently joined Hopewell, against whom Handshoe asserts
negligence and negligent misrepresentation claims. Device
Defendants also argue that such fraudulent joinder renders
irrelevant the procedural issue of Hopewell's failure to
join in or consent to removal.
Defendants thus raise two distinct joinder issues: fraudulent
misjoinder and fraudulent joinder. Both doctrines relate to
treatment of claims against non-diverse defendants that
ostensibly operate to defeat complete diversity and thereby
prevent removal. A fraudulent misjoinder theory attacks a
facially viable claim based on the absence of a joinder nexus
between claims asserted against diverse and non-diverse
defendants; a fraudulent joinder theory disputes the facial
validity of a claim against a non-diverse defendant.
Court concludes that Handshoe properly joined Highlands, a
party allegedly sharing fault and causing harm in the
criticized knee replacement surgery. Fraudulent misjoinder as
a doctrine (extant or not in this Circuit) thus would not
impact jurisdiction here. Because the parties are not
completely diverse, the Court remands without evaluating
Hopewell's joinder or other removal mechanics.