Novel Motion to Remand Denied in California Talc Case U.S.District Court for the Central District of California, August 23, 2018
CALIFORNIA — A group of women filed suit against Johnson & Johnson in the Superior Court for the County of Los Angeles raising claims that the company violated various California codes by failing to warn consumers of exposure to asbestos and talc containing asbestiform fibers in Johnson and Johnson’s Baby Powder and Shower to Shower products. On May 31, 2018, Johnson & Johnson removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction. Plaintiffs moved to remand by arguing that the court lacked subject matter jurisdiction, not because of a lack of complete diversity, but because the court lacked Article III standing. Plaintiffs’ support for this argument was that they “are acting as ‘Private Enforcers’ seeking the Court’s intervention to provide relief for the public at large rather than for redress of their own individualized private injuries.” In short, plaintiffs asserted that they have not alleged an injury-in-fact. Johnson & Johnson responded by pointing to the allegations in their complaint where certain injuries-in-fact were alleged. The court therefore denied the motion to remand on this basis.
The plaintiffs also argued that the State of California was the real party in interest in the lawsuit even though it was not named, because it is the government entity on whose behalf the plaintiffs filed. Since California is not a citizen for diversity purposes, plaintiffs contended, diversity jurisdiction does not lie over the case. The court distinguished the cases cited by plaintiffs since they were not filed by private individuals and the State of California was a named party in both instances. The motion to remand was therefore denied.