Case Remanded to State Court Following Resolution of Claims that Invoked Federal Officer Statute

The plaintiffs commenced this action in state court alleging that various products caused plaintiff Ralph Shonkwiler to develop mesothelioma. Defendant CBS Corporation (Westinghouse) removed the matter to federal court based on the federal officer statute since the plaintiffs claimed exposure to their product was a Navy turbine and the claimed exposure took place while plaintiff was serving in the Navy aboard the U.S.S. Ingram. In January 2017, the plaintiffs informed the court that all claims against Westinghouse were resolved and Westinghouse was dismissed from the action. The plaintiff subsequently moved to remand the action back to state court. Defendant Warren Pumps opposed the plaintiff’s motion and moved to dismiss.

In its papers, Warren argued that it also could rely on the federal officer statute. Warren pointed out that while there was no proof that the plaintiff was exposed to its product; any such exposure would likely have been from the plaintiff’s time in the service. The plaintiff did not oppose Warren’s dismissal, which was granted by the court. The court acknowledged that only state law claims remained and discussed that it may in its discretion either retain jurisdiction or remand based on “judicial economy, convenience, fairness, and comity.” (citation omitted). In granting the remand the court held: “Here, this matter is in an early pretrial procedural posture. The Court has yet to set any dates and deadlines. Additionally, the Court has not had the opportunity to rule on the substance of any of the state law claims. Under these circumstances, judicial economy and the avoidance of multiplicity of litigation do not counsel in favor of retaining this case. Accordingly, the balance of considerations points toward returning the state law claims raised in the complaint to state court.” (citations omitted).

Read the full decision here.