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Jenkins v. Medtronic, Inc.

United States District Court, W.D. Tennessee, Western Division

November 21, 2013

DAVID JENKINS, GLORIA JENKINS, DONALD BOLTON, DENISE BOLTON, BOBBY BLOUNT, and SUSAN BLOUNT, individuals, Plaintiffs,
v.
MEDTRONIC, INC., a Minnesota Corporation, and MEDTRONIC SOFAMOR DANEK USA, INC., a Tennessee Corporation, Defendants

Page 874

For David Jenkins, Plaintiff: Daniel Marten Czamanske, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Joseph Harland Webster, CHAPMAN LEWIS & SWAN, Clarksdale, MS; David P. Matthews, MATTHEWS & ASSOCIATES, Houston, TX; Eugene A. Laurenzi, GODWIN MORRIS LAURENZI & BLOOMFIELD, P.C., Memphis, TN; John Harloe, FREEZE & GOSS, Dallas, TX; Nathan C. VanDerVeer, Richard Arthur Freese, PRO HAC VICE, Tim K. Goss, FREESE & GOSS, PLLC, Birmingham, AL.

For Gloria Jenkins, Donald Bolton, Denise Bolton, Bobby Blount, Susan Blount, Plaintiffs: Daniel Marten Czamanske, Jr., LEAD ATTORNEY, Joseph Harland Webster, CHAPMAN LEWIS & SWAN, Clarksdale, MS; David P. Matthews, MATTHEWS & ASSOCIATES, Houston, TX; Eugene A. Laurenzi, GODWIN MORRIS LAURENZI & BLOOMFIELD, P.C., Memphis, TN; John Harole, Freese & Goss, PLLC, Dallas, TX; Nathan C. VanDerVeer, Richard Arthur Freese, PRO HAC VICE, Tim K. Goss, FREESE & GOSS, PLLC, Birmingham, AL.

For Medtronic, Inc., a Minnesota Corporation, Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc., a Tennessee Corporation, Defendants: Andrew E. Tauber, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, MAYER BROWN LLP - Washington, DC, Washington, DC; Daniel L Ring, LEAD ATTORNEY, MAYER BROWN LLP, Chicago, IL; Sean P. Fahey, LEAD ATTORNEY, LAW FIRM OF PEPPER HAMILTON LLP, Philadelphia, PA; Leo Maurice Bearman, Jr., Robert F. Tom, BAKER DONELSON BEARMAN CALDWELL & BERKOWITZ- Memphis, Memphis, TN.

OPINION

JOHN T. FOWLKES, JR., United States District Judge.

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ORDER DENYING MOTION TO REMAND

Before the Court comes Plaintiffs' David Jenkins, Gloria Jenkins, Donald Bolton, Denise Bolton, Bobby Blount, and Susan Blount Motion to Remand, filed on March 7, 2013. (D.E. #27). Defendants Medtronic, Inc. and Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc. filed their Response in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion on March 25, 2013. (D.E. #33). On April 3, 2013, Plaintiffs filed their Reply to Defendants' Response. (D.E. #36). Defendants filed a Motion for Leave to file a Surreply in Opposition to Plaintiffs' Motion (D.E. #37), on April 8, 2013, but this Court denied Defendants' Motion on April 9, 2013 (D.E. #38). A hearing on the Motion

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to Remand was held before this Court on July 10, 2013. (D.E. #40). After reviewing the Motion, Responses, and Oral Arguments by the parties, the Court DENIES Plaintiffs' Motion to Remand.

I. BACKGROUND

On November 19, 2012, Plaintiffs David Jenkins, Gloria Jenkins, Donald Bolton, Denise Bolton, Bobby Blount, and Susan Blount filed their Complaint against Defendants Medtronic, Inc. and Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA, Inc. in the Circuit Court of Tennessee for the Thirtieth Judicial District at Memphis, Shelby County. The causes of action are based upon Plaintiffs' allegations that Defendants improperly and illegally promoted and sold a bio-engineered bone graft device, the Infuse® Bone Graft/LT-Cage Lumbar Fusion Device (" Infuse® " ), for unapproved and unreasonably dangerous surgical applications. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that, because the use of the Infuse® was allegedly used in a manner inconsistent with the Food and Drug Administration (" FDA" ) approval of the device, Defendants should be found liable for, inter alia, negligent use and promotion of the Infuse® through an off-label manner.

Plaintiffs alleges twelve state law causes of action: (1) negligence or gross negligence; (2) negligence per se; (3) negligent misrepresentation; (4) strict product liability for manufacturing defect; (5) strict liability for design defect; (6) strict product liability for failure to warn, inadequate warning, or inadequate instructions; (7) strict product liability for breach of express warranty; (8) breach of implied warranty; (9) fraudulent misrepresentation and fraud in the inducement; (10) constructive fraud; (11) violations of the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act (TCPA); and (12) loss of consortium. Plaintiffs requested compensatory damages and general damages, economic and non-economic in the excess of $2,000,000; punitive and exemplary damages; treble damages; attorneys' fees; award of prejudgment interest, costs and disbursements; and any other equitable relief identified by the court.

Defendants removed the case to the Western District of Tennessee, Western Division, on January 3, 2013. (D.E. #1). Subsequently, on March 3, 2013, Plaintiffs' filed a Motion to Remand the case. Plaintiffs argue this case was improperly removed from state court because no federal cause of action exists. Specifically, Plaintiffs contend that its allegations are based upon state law claims, which do not raise a substantial question of federal law and, consequently, do not give rise to federal question jurisdiction. Plaintiffs aver that their claims should be remanded for the foregoing reasons: (1) Their state law based claims do not substantially involve federal law; (2) Enlarging federal question jurisdiction, in the way in which Defendants request, would upset the state-federal balance; and (3) A federal defense, including a preemption defense, does not suffice as a basis for finding federal jurisdiction.

Conversely, Defendants assert that, because the Infuse® is classified as a Class III, FDA premarket approved device under the Medical Device Amendments of 1976 (" MDA" ) to the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act of 1938 (" FDCA" ), 21 U.S.C. § 360k(a), the case properly belongs under federal jurisdiction. Specifically, Defendants contend that this case was properly removed to this district, based upon Sixth Circuit precedent and the substantial-federal question doctrine. Specifically, Defendants contend: (1) Plaintiffs' claims necessarily turn on disputed issues of federal law; (2) Federal interest in regulating Class III medical devices is substantial; and (3) Federal jurisdiction

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over claims involving premarket approved medical devices does not upset the state-federal balance.

II. ANALYSIS

A. Jurisdictional Framework Governing Removal

On a motion to remand, a defendant bears the burden of showing that a federal court has original jurisdiction through either diversity of citizenship, see 28 U.S.C. § 1332, or federal question jurisdiction, see 28 U.S.C. § § 1331 and 1441. See Kramer v. Regions Bank, No. 09-2408, 2010 WL 797792, at *2 (W.D. Tenn. Mar. 2, 2010). In this case, the Court must examine whether federal question jurisdiction exists. Thus, the Court must look to 28 U.S.C. § § 1331 and 1441. Under 28 U.S.C. § 1331, " [t]he district courts shall have original jurisdiction of all civil actions arising under the Constitution, laws, or treaties of the United States." Under 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a), " any civil action brought in a State court of which the district courts of the United States have original jurisdiction, may be removed by the defendant . . . to the district court of the United States for the district and division embracing the place where such action is pending." The threshold inquiry in determining whether a claim " 'arises under' federal law must . . . be determined by reference to the 'well-pleaded complaint.'" Merrell Dow Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. Thompson, 478 U.S. 804, 808, 106 S.Ct. 3229, 92 L.Ed.2d 650 (1986)(quoting Franchise Tax Bd. v. Construction Laborers Vacation Trust, 463 U.S. 1, 9-10, 103 S.Ct. 2841, 77 L.Ed.2d 420 (1983); See Mikulski v. Centerior ...


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