United States District Court, N.D. Alabama, Southern Division
BRADLEY A. CHICOINE, et al. Plaintiff,
WELLMARK INC., et al. Defendants.
PROCTOR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
matter is before the court on Plaintiffs' Motion for
Remand. (Doc. # 7). Shortly after Plaintiffs' Motion was
filed, Defendants filed a Motion to Stay All Proceedings
Pending Transfer by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict
Litigation. (Doc. # 8). Plaintiffs agreed to the Stay, but
did not waive their argument that federal courts did not have
subject matter jurisdiction over this case. (Doc. # 10). The
case was stayed (Doc. # 13), and on October 5, 2017, it was
transferred to this court for inclusion in In re Blue
Cross Blue Shield Antitrust Litigation, MDL 2406. (Doc.
# 15). Upon transfer, this court invited briefing on the
Motion for Remand to address federal law as interpreted by
the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. (Doc. # 20). The
Motion is now fully briefed. (Docs. # 23. 24, 26 and 27).
case was filed on October 5, 2015, as a class action in the
District Court for Polk County, Iowa by chiropractic
physicians, who are licensed in Iowa and are all citizens of
Iowa. (Doc. # 1-3). Plaintiffs seek damages and other relief
based upon violation of the Iowa Competition Act, Iowa Code
§ 553.4 (2007), and have alleged that a combination or
conspiracy in restraint of trade occurred in Iowa.
(Id.). The purported class is limited to
chiropractic physicians who are citizens of Iowa. No.
violation of federal law is alleged. (Id.).
Petition names only two defendants: Wellmark, Inc. d/b/a
Wellmark Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Iowa, and Wellmark
Health Plan of Iowa, Inc. (“Wellmark”). Both
Defendants are Iowa corporations with principal places of
business in Iowa. (Doc. # 1-3 && 9-11). The original
Petition identifies Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association
(“BCBSA”) as a non-party co-conspirator. (Doc. #
1-3 & 12). It further identifies the (then) 38 other
members of BCBSA as non-party co-conspirators. (Doc. # 1-3
14, 2017, Plaintiffs filed a First Amended Petition striking
their allegation that BCBSA is a is a non-party
co-conspirator, as well as the allegations regarding
BCBSA's agreement with the other BCBSA licensees. (Doc. #
2-1). Also on June 14, 2017, BCBSA, an Illinois corporation,
filed a motion to intervene in this litigation in the Iowa
District Court for Polk County, under Iowa Rules of Civil
Procedure 1.407(1) and 1.407(2). The same day, the two named
Iowa Defendants filed a Notice of Removal to the United
States District Court, Southern District of Iowa, Central
Division, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1446(b)(3), invoking
federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act. 28
U.S.C.A. §1332(d). (Doc. # 1). This case was thereafter
transferred to this court as a tag along by the Judicial
Panel on Multidistrict Litigation. (Doc. # 15).
Standard of Review
courts are courts of limited jurisdiction that possess only
that power authorized by the Constitution and statute.
Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S.
375, 377 (1994). It is axiomatic that this court is
“‘empowered to hear only those cases within the
judicial power of the United States as defined by Article III
of the Constitution, ' and which have been entrusted to
them by a jurisdictional grant authorized by Congress.”
University of South Alabama v. American Tobacco Co.,
168 F.3d 405, 408 (11th Cir. 1999) (quoting Taylor v.
Appleton, 30 F.3d 1365, 1367 (11th Cir. 1994)).
removing party has the burden of establishing subject matter
jurisdiction over a case removed to this court. Roe v.
Michelin North America, Inc., 613 F.3d 1058, 1061 (11th
Cir. 2010). “That burden goes not only to the issue of
federal jurisdiction, but also to questions of compliance
with statutes governing the exercise of the right of
removal.” Parker v. Brown, 570 F.Supp. 640,
642 (S.D. Ohio 1983) (citations omitted). Courts strictly
construe removal statutes. City of Vestavia Hills v. Gen.
Fidelity Ins. Co., 676 F.3d 1310, 1313 (11th Cir. 2012)
(citing Univ. of S. Ala. v. Am. Tobacco Co., 168
F.3d 405, 411 (11th Cir. 1999)). “[A]ll doubts about
jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of remand to state
court.” Vestavia Hills, 676 F.3d at 1313.
multidistrict litigation, “on matters of procedure, the
transferee court must apply federal law as interpreted by the
court of the district where the transferee court sits.”
Various Plaintiffs v. Various Defendants (“Oil
Field Cases”), 673 F.Supp.2d 358, 362-63 (E.D. Pa.
2009) (Robreno, J.); see also Murphy v. F.D.I.C.,
208 F.3d 959, 966 (11th Cir. 2000) (“uniformity does
not require that transferee courts defer to the law of the
transferor circuit.”); Costco Wholesale Corp. v.
Johnson & Johnson Vision Care, Inc., 2015 WL
9987969, at *1 (M.D. Fla. Nov. 4, 2015) (in multidistrict
litigation, “the law of this Circuit applies to federal
claims and procedural matters.”).
are two ways for a defendant to remove a case under §
The first way (formerly referred to as “first paragraph
removals”) [and accomplished via § 1446(b)(1)]
involves civil cases where the jurisdictional grounds for
removal are apparent on the face of the initial pleadings.
The second way (formerly referred to as “second
paragraph removals”) [and accomplished via §
1446(b)(3)] contemplates removal where the jurisdictional
grounds later become apparent through the defendant's
receipt of “an amended pleading, motion, order or other
paper from which it may first be ascertained that the case is
one which is or has become removable.”
Jones v. Novartis Pharms. Co., 952 F.Supp.2d 1277,
1281-82 (N.D. Ala. 2013) (quoting 28 U.S.C. §