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Crackau v. Lucent Technologies

February 2, 2004

ROLF CRACKAU, DONALD COX, STEVEN DULAK, JOACHIM-CHRISTIAN GUMMICH, ET AL. ON BEHALF OF THEMSELVES AND ALL: SIMILARLY SITUATED, PLAINTIFFS,
v.
LUCENT TECHNOLOGIES, DEFENDANT.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: Dickinson R. Debevoise, Ussdj

FOR PUBLICATION

OPINION

Plaintiffs brought suit against Lucent Technologies, Inc. ("Lucent") for injuries they sustained or might sustain, allegedly due to exposure to Lucent's product. Lucent moved to transfer the case to the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas ("Texas District Court"), where an identical case is pending. In the interests of judicial economy and efficiency, and for the convenience of all involved, the court grants Lucent's motion.

I. FACTUAL BACKGROUND

Named plaintiffs ("Plaintiffs") and proposed class members are members of the U.S. Armed Forces and the armed forces of other NATO countries who worked as radar technicians, radar operators, and radar mechanics for periods between 1958 through 1994. They claim that they suffer from or are at increased risk of developing diseases such as leukemia, lymphoma and brain cancer due to their exposure to ionizing radiation emitted by radar devices designed and/or manufactured or distributed by defendant Lucent. Plaintiffs allege that Lucent negligently designed and manufactured the radar devices, and failed to warn of the potential hazards of working with them. They seek certification of two classes, one of which requests injunctive relief and the other of which requests compensatory and punitive damages. *fn1

II. PROCEDURAL HISTORY

Plaintiffs filed the instant action in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Union County, in January, 2003. Lucent removed the action to this court on March 28, 2003. Plaintiffs moved to remand the action to New Jersey state court, but the court denied that motion, holding that removal was proper because the district court could legitimately exercise jurisdiction over Lucent pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1442 (federal officer jurisdiction) and Article I, section 8, clause 17 of the U.S. Constitution (federal enclave jurisdiction). Crackau, et al. v. Lucent Technologies, Civ. No. 03-1376, 2003 WL 21665135 at *5-6 (D.N.J. June 25, 2003).

III. RELATED CASES

Two cases intimately related to this one were filed before this case was filed, and are currently pending in federal district courts in Texas and Massachusetts.

A. The Texas Case

On October 8, 2002, several named plaintiffs ("Texas Plaintiffs") *fn2 filed suit ("Texas case") in Texas state court on behalf of themselves and all others similarly situated against Raytheon Company, General Electric Corporation, Honeywell International, Inc., ITT Industries, and ITT-Gilfillan. Inc., as well as Lucent ("Texas Defendants"). They seek certification of identical classes as seek certification in this court, *fn3 and make similar claims against the named defendants as are made here against Lucent. Because the plaintiff class is the same in the Texas case and the instant case, Lucent is a defendant in both cases, and the allegations in both cases are substantively identical, the instant case is merely a "subset" of the Texas case.

The Texas Defendants removed the case to the Texas District Court. The Texas Plaintiffs moved to remand, but Magistrate Judge Garney recommended that the motion be denied on the ground that federal enclave jurisdiction was present. The District Court judge presumably took this recommendation because the Texas Defendants then moved to dismiss on forum non conveniens grounds. Magistrate Judge Garney recommended that the court grant the motion, but, on September 29, 2003, District Judge Martinez nevertheless denied the motion. *fn4

B. The Massachusetts Case

Still other named plaintiffs ("Massachusetts Plaintiffs") filed suit ("Massachusetts case") in Massachuetts state court against Raytheon Company on December 20, 2002. Like the Texas Plaintiffs, the Massachusetts Plaintiffs seek certification of the same classes as seek certification in this court, and make similar claims against Raytheon as are made against Lucent here. Raytheon removed to federal district court, and, on May 6, 2003, the ...


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