Motion to Remand Turbine Manufacturer’s Removal Denied Due to Statements in Settlement Demand Letter

United States District Court for the District of Rhode Island, January 9, 2019

RHODE ISLAND — The plaintiff filed suit on behalf of her husband, Michael Mannix, alleging that his death was caused by exposure to asbestos. She sued CBS, among other defendants, related to his work on ships in the Navy. After years of discovery, the plaintiff’s counsel sent CBS a settlement demand letter in which it was stated that decedent was exposed to asbestos from CBS turbines on the USS Saratoga. CBS promptly removed the case on October 9, 2018, alleging that the statement provided a basis for removal for the first time.

On November 8, 2018, the plaintiff moved to remand, arguing that the removal was untimely because more than 30 days had passed since CBS received the complaint. Plaintiff argued that CBS should have known of its manufacture of turbines on the USS Saratoga. However, the court ruled that it could only consider the contents of the plaintiff’s papers, and not what CBS knew, in deciding the motion to remand. The court found that neither the complaint nor the plaintiff’s subsequent discovery responses indicated what types of CBS products decedent came in contact with during his Navy tenure. The court also found that the settlement letter was the first document to connect specific CBS products with decedent’s exposure, and therefore provided the first basis for removal under the federal officer doctrine. Therefore, removal was timely and the motion to remand was denied.

Only the Westlaw citation is currently available at 2019 WL 145547.

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