United States District Court, M.D. Louisiana
RULING AND ORDER
A. Jackson, Judge
the Court is the Motion (Doc. 9) of Sandra Cortez to remand
this action to the 19th Judicial District Court for the
Parish of East Baton Rouge. For the reasons that follow, the
Motion (Doc. 9) is GRANTED.
issue in this products-liability action is bankruptcy
jurisdiction over the Louisiana-law claims a terminally ill
Louisiana citizen asserted against J&J in a Louisiana
court. J&J seeks to compel that citizen to litigate her
claims in Delaware based on tenuous ties to a bankruptcy
petition filed by one of J&J's cosmetic-talc
suppliers. The Court finds the equities dispositive and
orders remand under 28 U.S.C. § 1452(b).
November 2018, Sandra Cortez sued J&J, Imerys Talc
America, Inc., and K&B Louisiana Corporation in the 19th
Judicial District Court for the Parish of East Baton Rouge.
(Doc. 1 at p. 21). She alleges that she developed ovarian
cancer because she regularly used cosmetic-talc products
these companies manufactured, marketed, or sold.
(Id. at pp. 21-33). She alleges negligence,
redhibition, and civil-conspiracy claims under Louisiana law.
April 2019, J&J removed the claims against it to
this Court under the bankruptcy removal statute, 28 U.S.C.
§ 1452(a). (Doc. 1). J&J asserts that the Court has
jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1334(b) because this case
is "related to" a bankruptcy petition filed by one
of its talc suppliers, Imerys Talc America, Inc., in the
United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of Delaware.
(Id.). This case is related to that one, J&J
asserts, because (1) Imerys Talc America, Inc. may have a
duty to indemnify J&J against Cortez's claims, (2)
Imerys Talc America, Inc. and J&J share insurance, and
(3) Imerys Talc America, Inc. and J&J share an
"identity of interest." (Id.).
claims are serious but not unique. Thousands of plaintiffs
across the nation have sued J&J on a similar theory; the
use of J&J cosmetic-talc products causes the user to
develop cancer. J&J's basis for removal is not
unique, either. J&J has removed thousands of state-court
talc suits based on an alleged link to the Imerys Talc
America, Inc. bankruptcy. In the Middle District of Louisiana
alone, J&J has removed at least nine suits. See Civil
Action Nos. 19-230-SDD-EWD, 19-231-BAJ-EWD, 19-233-JWD-EWD,
19-234-SDD-RLB, 19-240-SDD-EWD, 19-242-SDD-EWD,
19-250-BAJ-JW, 19-253-JWD-EWD, 19-255-SDD-RLB.
in Delaware, J&J has invoked 28 U.S.C. § 157(b)(5)
and moved the United States District Court for the District
of Delaware to "fix" venue for all similar talc
suits. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶ 7-8). J&J's motion is
fully briefed. See In re Imerys Talc America,
Inc., No. 1-19-MC-103-MN (D. Del. 2019).
Cortez moves to remand. (Doc. 9). She argues that the Court
lacks related-to jurisdiction and the equities favor remand.
(Id.). She emphasizes her poor prognosis and her
right to an expedited trial in state court. (Id.).
J&J opposes remand and urges the Court to await the
United States District Court for the District of
Delaware's ruling on its venue motion. (Doc. 14).
Courtis a court of limited jurisdiction. SeeKokkonen v.
Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 377 (1994).
It "may not exercise that jurisdiction absent a
statutory basis[.]" Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah
Servs., Inc., 545 U.S. 546, 552 (2005). Because J&J
removed this case, J&J '"bears the burden of
showing that federal jurisdiction exists and that removal was
proper.'" Barker v. Hercules Offshore,
Inc., 713 F.3d 208, 212 (5th Cir. 2013) (quoting
Manguno v. Prudential Prop. & Cas. Ins. Co., 276
F.3d 720, 722, 723 (5th Cir. 2002)).
parties filed lengthy briefs on the timeliness of removal,
mandatory abstention, and related-to jurisdiction. (Docs. 9,
14). But this Court, like hundreds of others, finds the
equities dispositive. See, e.g., In re State Court Talc
Actions, F.Supp.3d__, 2019 WL 2497856, at *4 (S.D.N.Y.
June 4, 2019); Wiman v. Triangle Enters., Inc., No.
5:19-CV-59-GNS, 2019 WL 2341671, at *2 (W.D. Ky. June 3,
2019); In re Removed State Court Talc Actions, No.
19-CV-3076-CJC, 2019 WL 2191808, at *4 (CD. Cal. May 21,
2019). The Court therefore assumes that removal was timely
and related-to jurisdiction is present.
Court may remand claims removed under 28 U.S.C. §
1452(a) "on any equitable ground." 28 U.S.C. §
1452(b). Section 1452(b) grants the Court "broad
discretion" to remand; any ...