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Lecce v. Medtronic, Inc.

United States District Court, N.D. Ohio, Eastern Division

July 8, 2019




         Before the Court is the motion of plaintiffs Heather and Anthony Lecce to remand this case to the Richland County Court of Common Pleas. (Doc. No. 8 [“Mot.”].) Defendants Medtronic, Inc. and Medtronic USA, Inc. filed a brief in opposition (Doc. No. 12 [“Opp'n”]) and plaintiffs filed a reply (Doc. No. 13 [“Reply”]). For the reasons discussed herein, plaintiffs' motion for remand is GRANTED.

         I. BACKGROUND

         On October 18, 2017, plaintiff Heather Lecce (“Heather”) received care, including but not limited to the interrogation of her pacemaker, by defendant Nationwide Children's Hospital's agents, servants, and/or employees, and defendants Medtronic, Inc.'s and Medtronic USA, Inc.'s (collectively, “Medtronic”) agents, servants and/or employees in a hospital owned and operated by defendant Medcentral Health Systems d/b/a OhioHealth Mansfield Hospital. (Doc. No. 1-1, Complaint [“Compl.”] ¶ 11.) Immediately following her provided care, Heather experienced complications with her Medtronic pacemaker. (Id. ¶ 12.)

         On October 17, 2018, Heather and her husband plaintiff Anthony Lecce (“Anthony”) filed the instant action in the Richland County Court of Common Pleas. Plaintiffs' complaint alleges four claims for relief: (1) medical malpractice, (2) negligence, (3) products liability, and (4) loss of consortium. On November 23, 2018, Medtronic removed this action to this Court. (Doc. No. 1 [“Not.”].) On November 30, 2018, plaintiffs filed the present motion to remand. This issue is now ripe for the Court's review.


         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), defendants may remove a civil action from a state court only when the federal court has original jurisdiction over the claims alleged in the state court complaint. “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 (6th Cir. 2006). “‘[B]ecause lack of jurisdiction would make any decree in the case void and the continuation of the litigation in federal court futile, the removal statute should be strictly construed and all doubts resolved in favor of remand.'” Id. at 549-50 (quoting Brown v. Francis, 75 F.3d 860, 864-65 (3d Cir. 1996)).

         A federal court has original federal-question jurisdiction in “all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States.” 28 U.S.C. § 1331. An action “arises under” federal law if: (1) “federal law creates the cause of action[, ]” or (2) “the vindication of a right under state law necessarily turned on some construction of federal law.” Merrell Dow Pharm. Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808-09, 106 S.Ct. 3229, 92 L.Ed.2d 650 (1986) (quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Constr. Laborers Vacation Tr., 463 U.S. 1, 9, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 77 L.Ed.2d 420 (1983)).

         Generally, the plaintiff is the master of his or her own complaint and federal jurisdiction must be apparent “on the face” of the “properly pleaded complaint.” Caterpillar Inc. v. Williams, 482 U.S. 386, 392, 107 S.Ct. 2425, 96 L.Ed.2d 318 (1987). The “mere presence of a federal issue in a state cause of action does not automatically confer federal-question jurisdiction.” Merrell Dow, 478 U.S. at 813.

         However, even when a claim originates in state law, the Supreme Court has recognized that “in certain cases federal-question jurisdiction will lie over state-law claims that implicate significant federal issues.” Grable & Sons Metal Prods., Inc. v. Darue Eng'g & Mfg., 545 U.S. 308, 312, 125 S.Ct. 2363, 162 L.Ed.2d 257 (2005). “The doctrine captures the commonsense notion that a federal court ought to be able to hear claims recognized under state law that nonetheless turn on substantial questions of federal law, and thus justify resort to the experience, solicitude, and hope of uniformity that a federal forum offers on federal issues[.]” Grable, 545 U.S. at 312.

         The removing party bears the burden of establishing that federal-question jurisdiction exists. Long v. Bando Mfg. of Am., Inc., 201 F.3d 754, 757 (6th Cir. 2000). “All doubts as to the propriety of removal are resolved in favor of remand.” Coyne v. Am. Tobacco Co., 183 F.3d 488, 493 (6th Cir. 1999).

         III. ANALYSIS

         Medtronic contends that the Court possesses federal-question jurisdiction over this case because plaintiffs' claims stem from alleged complications and negligent care of Heather's pacemaker, which is categorized as a Class III medical device under the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act (“FDCA”), subject to the most rigorous review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (“FDA”). Specifically, Medtronic contends that federal-question jurisdiction lies over plaintiffs' state-law claims because plaintiffs' claims will require the Court to “second-guess the design, manufacturing, and programming of this Class III medical device, ” and the Court's decision “necessarily will ‘implicate significant federal issues' and ‘turn on substantial questions of federal law.'” (Not. ¶ 18 (citing Grable, 545 U.S. at 312).) Alternatively, Medtronic contends there is a substantial federal question in this case because the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 (“MDA”) to the FDCA “expressly preempts any state-law claim that would impose a requirement that is ‘different from, or in addition to' those imposed by the FDA.” (Not. ¶ 14; Opp'n at 85.[1])

         A. Substantial ...

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