Federal Court Refuses to Remand State Law Asbestos Case Where Discovery Was Completed and Dispositive Motions Decided

In this case, the plaintiff commenced an action in Maryland state court and alleged the decedent’s exposure to asbestos while working at a Coast Guard yard, as a floor tile salesman, and in connection with residential work. The case was originally removed to federal court under federal question jurisdiction, based on the claimed exposure at the Coast Guard yard. After the case proceeded through discovery, all the defendants associated with the claimed shipyard exposure were either dismissed or settled, leaving Union Carbide as the remaining defendant (Owens Illinois was on the verge of settling). The plaintiff moved to remand because only state law claims remained, which Union Carbide opposed, urging the court to exercise supplemental jurisdiction under the circumstances.

Since the case had proceeded through discovery and the plaintiff delayed making the motion, the district court refused to remand: “[C]onsiderations of judicial economy and convenience disfavor remand. Aside from conducting depositions on the issue of damages, discovery in this case has been completed. Having ruled upon dispositive motions, the Court is familiar with the facts of this case. At the very least, the Court will retain federal jurisdiction over the Plaintiffs’ claims against Owens-Illinois until they are dismissed pursuant to settlement. The Plaintiffs have had three years to object to the Court’s supplemental jurisdiction. As one court presented with similar facts has noted, ‘[i]n a sense, we are at least in the seventh inning in this contest and in these circumstances there is little to be gained by declining to adjudicate the state claims.’ See Coppage, 906 F. Supp. at 1047 (retaining supplemental jurisdiction when parties have completed discovery and are prepared for trial). Accordingly, the Court will retain supplemental jurisdiction [citations omitted].”

Read the full decision here.