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Citrano v. John Crane-Houdaille, Inc.

United States District Court, D. Maryland, Northern Division

July 27, 2015

DENNIS C. CITRANO, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
JOHN CRANE-HOUDAILLE, INC., et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM OPINION

WILLIAM D. QUARLES, Jr., District Judge.

Dennis C. Citrano, now deceased, [1] sued CBS Corporation ("CBS") and others[2] in an asbestos product liability action. ECF No. 2. GE removed to this Court. ECF No. 1. Pending are the plaintiffs' motions to remand, ECF No. 136, and for leave to file a surreply, ECF No. 151.[3] No hearing is necessary. Local Rule 105.6 (D. Md. 2014). For the following reasons, the motion to remand will be granted; the motion for leave to file a surreply will be denied.

I. Background

The facts of this case are stated in the Court's February 27, 2014 Memorandum Opinion. See ECF No. 107; Citrano v. John Crane-Houdaille, Inc., 1 F.Supp. 3d 459 (D. Md. 2014). Briefly, this suit arises from Citrano's fatal mesothelioma, allegedly caused by his exposure to asbestos from 1960 to the late 1970s while working as an electrician. See ECF No. 2-1 at 2, 5.

On March 17, 2011 and September 11, 2012, [4] the plaintiffs sued GE and the non-removing defendants in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City for injuries[5] resulting from Citrano's exposure to asbestos. Id. [6]

On June 26, 2013, the plaintiffs filed answers to the defendants' joint interrogatories. ECF No. 3. In one response, the plaintiffs stated that Citrano had worked from 1968 to 1971 in Baltimore, Maryland as an electrician second class at the Bethlehem Steel Sparrows Point Shipyard in the U.S.S. Santa Barbara engine rooms. Id. at 40-41. On July 25, 2013, GE removed to this Court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a) (1).[7] See ECF No. 1 at 1-2. On August 23, 2013, the plaintiffs moved to remand the case or to sever the claims against GE and remand the claims against the non-removing defendants to state court. ECF No. 78. On February 27, 2014, this Court denied the plaintiffs' motion to remand on the basis that GE had established a colorable federal defense. ECF No. 107 at 21.[8] However, the Court noted that the plaintiffs may renew their motion to remand if GE obtains dismissal of the claims against it. Id. at 23 n.15.

On November 12, 2014, the Court granted the plaintiffs' and GE's consent motion for voluntary dismissal of all claims against GE. ECF No. 135. On November 14, 2014, the plaintiffs moved to remand the suit to the Circuit Court for Baltimore City. ECF No. 136. On December 4, 2014, CBS opposed the motion. ECF No. 137. On December 22, 2014, the plaintiffs replied. ECF No. 138.

On March 24, 2015, the plaintiffs moved for leave to file a surreply. ECF No. 151.[9]

II. Analysis

A. Remand

1. 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 Citrano's alleged exposure to asbestos while working aboard the U.S.S. Santa Barbara, GE asserted federal officer jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1442.[10] ECF No. 1 at 2.

2. The Plaintiffs' Motion

The plaintiffs contend that federal jurisdiction is lacking because GE has been dismissed from the case. ECF No. 136-1 at 2, 5. CBS contends that any cross-claim it has - or the other defendants have - against GE gives rise to federal jurisdiction, and even if the Court lacks independent federal jurisdiction, it has supplemental jurisdiction ...


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