United States District Court, D. New Jersey
GEORGE EDWARD WILLIAMS, and MARTHA DARLENE WILLIAMS, Plaintiffs,
DAIICHI SANKYO, INC., et al., Defendants. SHELLY RAHMAN, and ABU RAHMAN, Plaintiffs,
DAIICHI SANKYO, INC., et al., Defendants
Appearances: Regina S. Johnson, Esq., Rayna E. Kessler, Esq., LOPEZ MCHUGH, LLP, Moorestown, New Jersey, Counsel for Plaintiffs George Edward Williams, Martha Darlene Williams, Shelly Rahman, and Abu Rahman.
J. Michael Papantonio, Esq., Daniel A. Nigh, Esq., LEVIN, PAPANTONIO, THOMAS, MITCHELL, RAFFERTY & PROCTOR, PA, Pensacola, Florida, Counsel for Plaintiffs George Edward Williams and Martha Darlene Williams.
Susan M. Sharko, Esq., Zoha Barkeshli, Esq., DRINKER BIDDLE & REATH LLP, Florham Park, New Jersey, Counsel for Defendants.
HONORABLE Joseph E. Irenas, Senior United States District Judge.
These two lawsuits, having been removed from the Superior Court of New Jersey by Defendants Forest Laboratories, Inc. and Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc., come before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motions to Remand. Because the motions raise the same question of law and have highly similar factual circumstances, the Court considers them together for purposes of efficiency. In support of their motions, Plaintiffs argue that removal of this case was improper because the Defendants violated the " forum defendant rule," codified at 28 U.S.C. § 1441(b)(2). For the reasons set forth below, Plaintiffs' motions will be granted, and these two cases will be remanded back to the New Jersey Superior Court.
The facts and procedural history of these two cases are fairly straightforward, and the Court reviews only the necessary facts for deciding the pending motions to remand.
On February 6, 2014, Plaintiffs George and Martha Williams (the " Williams Plaintiffs" ) filed a Complaint in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Law Division, Atlantic County. Their suit seeks damages for personal injuries and loss of consortium as a result of George Williams's alleged use of the blood pressure drug olmesaran medoxomil.
The Williams Plaintiffs name six Defendants in their Complaint: Daiichi Sankyo, Inc.; Daiichi Sankyo U.S. Holdings, Inc.; Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd.; Forest Laboratories, Inc. (" FLI" ); Forest Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (" FPI" ); and Forest Research Institute, Inc. Their Complaint seeks to
recover for nineteen causes of action, all pursuant to New Jersey state law.
Five days later, on February 11, the Superior Court issued a Track Assignment Notice (" TAN" ) to the Williams Plaintiffs. (Kessler Decl. ¶ 6 (Williams); see also Pls.' Ex. B (Williams)) In accordance with New Jersey Civil Practice Rule 4:4-1, the Williams Plaintiffs issued summonses for all six Defendants within fifteen days of receiving the TAN, and on February 20th, the Williams Plaintiffs served all of the Defendants except the Japanese Defendant, Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd. (Kessler Decl. ¶ ¶ 7-8 (Williams))
Also on February 11, before the Williams Plaintiffs served any Defendant, FLI and FPI removed the case to this Court. The Notice of Removal contended that this Court had original jurisdiction over the Williams Plaintiffs' Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332's diversity jurisdiction. (Notice of Removal ¶ 4 (Williams)) There is no dispute that the Williams Plaintiffs are both citizens of Texas. (Compl. ¶ ¶ 1-2 (Williams)) In addition, the parties do not dispute that Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. is a citizen of Delaware and New Jersey; Daiichi Sankyo U.S. Holdings, Inc. is a citizen of Delaware and New Jersey; Daiichi Sankyo Co., Ltd. is a citizen of Japan; FLI is a citizen of Delaware and New York; FPI is a citizen of Delaware and Missouri; and Forest Research Institute, Inc. is a citizen of New Jersey. (Notice of Removal ¶ ¶ 7-12 (Williams)) Finally, neither party disputes that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000. (Id. ¶ 15)
Between FLI and FPI's Notice of Removal on February 11 and service on February 20, Defendant Forest Research Institute, Inc. filed an Answer in this Court on February 17. On March 13, the Williams Plaintiffs filed the pending motion to remand back to the Superior Court, Atlantic County. Defendants FLI and FPI oppose this motion. During the course of briefing the motion to remand, FLI and FPI filed an Answer on March 21, and Daiichi Sankyo U.S. Holdings, Inc. and Daiichi Sankyo, Inc. filed a separate Answer on the same day.
Plaintiffs Shelly and Abu Rahman (the " Rahman Plaintiffs" ) also filed suit in the New Jersey Superior Court, Law Division, Atlantic County, on February 6, 2014. Just like the Williams Plaintiffs, the Rahman Plaintiffs bring their suit to recover for personal injuries and loss of consortium, allegedly resulting ...