Case Remanded to State Court Due to Lack of Diversity or Federal Enclave Jurisdiction Over Equipment Manufacturer

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In Hatten v. Grobet United States, the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona recently ruled on a defendant’s motion to remove the case to federal court. In this case, plaintiff Renee Hatton alleged that as a result of the defendants’ actions, her mother contracted mesothelioma from exposure to asbestos-containing products between 1977 and 1979 while working as an art teacher and jewelry-making instructor at Fort Huachuca. Defendant Grobet filed a notice of removal, asserting that the court had federal enclave jurisdiction, as well as diversity jurisdiction over the suit.

The plaintiff argued the case should be remanded because the defendant’s notice of removal was procedurally defective in that it failed to include proof of consent of all defendants, because one defendant was an Arizona resident defeating diversity jurisdiction, and that the court did not have federal enclave jurisdiction. Defendant Grobet argued the Arizona defendant was fraudulently joined in the case, thus justifying diversity jurisdiction. The court ultimately disagreed that the Arizona defendant was fraudulently added to the case. Therefore, the court found that Grobet failed to establish diversity jurisdiction over this case. The court also dismissed Grobet’s federal enclave jurisdiction argument. Specifically, the court found Grobet could not establish that the federal government possessed an exclusive interest over Fort Huachuca.

As a result of Grobet’s failure to establish a basis to support federal jurisdiction, and that the acts at issue in this case occurred on a federal enclave subject to exclusive federal jurisdiction, the court remanded the case for further proceedings.