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Sherin v. John Crane-Houdaille, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

March 24, 2015

MELVIN F. SHERIN, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN CRANE-HOUDAILLE, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Melvin F. Sherin, individually and as personal representative of the Estate of Roberta L. Sherin, and others[1] (collectively, the "Plaintiffs"), sued Union Carbide Corporation ("Union Carbide")[2] in an asbestos product liability action. Pending is the Plaintiffs' motion to remand. ECF No. 203. No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the motion will be denied.

I. Background

The facts of this case are stated in the Court's September 16, 2014 Memorandum Opinion, ECF No. 200. Briefly, this suit arises from Mrs. Sherin's fatal mesothelioma, allegedly caused by her exposure to asbestos fibers brought home on Mr. Sherin's person and clothing when he worked at the Staten Island, New York U.S. Coast Guard Yard from 1958 to 1960 and as a flooring salesperson from 1969 to 1975, [3] and, from 1969 to 1970, during construction of their new home. ECF No. 203 ¶ 1.[4]

On September 9, 2010, the Plaintiffs sued Union Carbide, and others, [5] under various tort theories of recovery.[6] ECF No. 2. On December 21, 2011, Wayne, Hopeman Brothers, and Lofton (collectively, the "removing defendants") removed the suit to this Court. ECF No. 1.

On September 16, 2014, the Court denied Union Carbide's motion in limine to exclude hearsay and speculative product identification testimony, granted in part and denied in part Union Carbide's motion for summary judgment, [7] and granted Union Carbide's motion for partial summary judgment.[8] ECF No. 201.[9]

On October 23, 2014, the Plaintiffs moved to remand the remaining claims against Union Carbide and A.W. Chesterton to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. ECF No. 203.[10] On November 10, 2014, Union Carbide opposed the motion. ECF No. 205. On November 24, 2014, the Plaintiffs replied. ECF No. 206.

II. Analysis

A. Removal Jurisdiction

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 where such action is pending." The removing party has the burden of proving subject matter jurisdiction. Md. Stadium Auth. v. Ellerbe Becket, Inc., 407 F.3d 255, 260 (4th Cir. 2005). Because removal raises "significant federalism concerns, " the removal statutes must be strictly construed, and all doubts must be resolved in favor of remanding the case to state court. Id.

Relying on Mr. Sherin's employment at the Coast Guard Yard, the removing defendants asserted federal officer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1442, [11] and federal enclave jurisdiction under U.S. Const. Art. 1 § 8, [12] as grounds for removal. ECF No. 1 at 3, 4.

B. The Plaintiffs' Motion

The Plaintiffs do not assert that removal was improper; rather, they assert that federal jurisdiction is now lacking because every defendant whose asbestos products were present at the Coast Guard Yard[13] has been granted summary judgment or dismissed from the complaint. ECF No. 203 ¶¶ 3, 7. Union Carbide asserts that this Court has federal jurisdiction because Owens-Illinois - whose asbestos products Mr. Sherin acknowledged being exposed to at the Coast Guard Yard - is a cross-defendant for contribution. ECF Nos. 205 at 3; 205-2 at 3. In essence, Union Carbide argues that its cross-claim for contribution against Owens-Illinois independently gives rise to federal jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs' claims against it. Union Carbide is incorrect.

Federal courts exercising federal officer or federal enclave jurisdiction may exercise supplemental jurisdiction over non-federal elements of the controversy. See 28 U.S.C. § 1367(a) ("[T]he district courts shall have supplemental jurisdiction over all other claims that are so related to claims in the action within such original jurisdiction that they form part of the same case or controversy....").[14] Accordingly, the Court's federal jurisdiction over claims arising from Mr. Sherin's asbestos exposure at the Coast Guard Yard ...


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