Dotson v Bayer Corp, 2017 WL 35706 (E.D. Mo. Jan. 4, 2017).

In granting plaintiffs’ motion to remand, a District Court in Missouri found that the doctrine of fraudulent misjoinder did not support subject matter jurisdiction over an action against the manufacturers of a medical device because the joinder of a non-diverse plaintiff was not ‘egregious.’

Plaintiffs brought a putative class action alleging that the defendants manufactured and sold an unsafe medical device, Essure, for permanent birth control. The defendants removed the lawsuit to federal court based on diversity as well as federal question jurisdiction.  Among other arguments, plaintiffs moved to remand due to a lack of complete diversity between the plaintiffs and the defendants. In response, the defendants argued that the non-diverse plaintiffs were fraudulently misjoined.

The Court referred to the Eighth Circuit’s definition of the “fraudulent misjoinder” doctrine, which occurs when a plaintiff sues a diverse defendant in state court and joins a viable claim involving a nondiverse party, even though the plaintiff has no reasonable procedural basis to join them in one action because the claims bear no relation to each other. Importantly, the Court noted that fraudulent misjoinder requires “egregious” misjoinder, rather than “mere misjoinder.” Here, the defendants contended that the non-diverse plaintiffs’ joinder did not comport with the joinder standards of Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 20 because of the factual differences among the plaintiffs.

In response, the plaintiffs noted that the Eighth Circuit had not applied fraudulent misjoinder and, even if it did, that in the instant case there was no egregious misjoinder  The Court agreed, relying on another Essure device case, in which the joinder of numerous plaintiffs alleging injury from a single medical device was deemed not to be ‘egregious misjoinder.’  While acknowledging that there might be differences among the plaintiffs’ claims, the Court found that all claims focused on the same product, arose out of the same development, distribution, marketing, and sales practices for that product, and had common issues of law and fact that were “likely to arise in the litigation.”  The Court therefore concluded that the defendants had not satisfactorily established fraudulent misjoinder.

Accordingly, the Court granted the plaintiffs’ motion to remand.