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Wood v. Crane Co.

United States Court of Appeals, Fourth Circuit

August 15, 2014

KATHLEEN R. WOOD, Personal Representative for the Estate of James E. Joyner, Plaintiff -- Appellee,
v.
CRANE CO., individually and as successor to National-U.S. Radiator, is a Delaware Corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut, Defendant -- Appellant, and A.C. & R INSULATION CO., INC.; ALLEN-BRADLEY COMPANY, INC.; ALLIS-CHALMERS ENERGY, INC.; AIR & LIQUID SYSTEMS CORPORATION, Successor by Merger to Buffalo Pumps, Inc.; A.O. SMITH CORPORATION; ARMSTRONG INTERNATIONAL, INC.; AQUA-CHEM, INC., d/b/a Clever-Brooks Division; AURORA PUMP, CO; A.W. CHESTERTON, INC.; BW/IP, INC., and its wholly owned subsidiaries as successor-in-interest to BW/IP; CARRIER CORP.; CBS CORPORATION, f/k/a Viacom, Inc., as successor to Westinghouse Electric Corp.; CERTAINEED CORPORATION; CLEAVER-BROOKS COMPANY; COLUMBIA BOILER COMPANY; CROWN CORK & SEAL COMPANY, INC.; EATON ELECTRICAL, INC., f/k/a Cutler Hammer, Inc.; ELLIOTT COMPANY I, f/k/a Elliott Turbomachinery Co. Inc.; FMC CORPORATION, individually, on behalf of its Former Construction Equipment Group & Former Peerless Pump Division; FOSTER-WHEELER LLC; FOSTER WHEELER ENERGY CORPORATION, f/k/a Foster Wheeler Corporation; GARDNER DENVER, INC.; GARDNER DENVER NASH, LLC, a/k/a Gardner Denver, Inc., f/k/a Nash Elmo Industries, LLC; GENERAL ELECTRIC COMPANY; GEORGIA-PACIFIC, LLC; THE GOODYEAR TIRE & RUBBER COMPANY, individually and as successor-in-interest to Durabla Manufacturing; GOULDS PUMPS, INC., a subsidiary of ITT Industries, Inc.; THE GRISCOM-RUSSELL COMPANY, f/k/a the Dial Corporation, a Delaware Corporation; H.B. FULLER COMPANY, Successor/or parent of Benjamin Foster Division of Amchem Products, Inc.; H.B. SMITH COMPANY, INC., a/k/a Smith Cast Iron Boilers; HONEYWELL INTERNATIONAL, INC.; HOPEMAN BROTHERS, INC.; IMO INDUSTRIES, INCORPORATED, individually and on behalf of and successor to DeLaval; DeLaval Stream Turbine Co., IMO DeLaval and Warren Pump Co.; INGERSOLL-RAND COMPANY; INTERNATIONAL PAPER COMPANY, INC.; JOHN CRANE, INC.; KAISER GYPSUM COMPANY, INC.; MCNALLY INDUSTRIES, INC., individually and as successor-in-interest to Northern Pump Company and Northern Fire Apparatus Company; MCIC, INC., f/k/a McCormick Asbestos Co.; METROPOLITAN LIFE INSURANCE CO.; NATIONAL SERVICE INDUSTRIES, INC., f/k/a North Brothers, Inc.; OWENS-ILLINOIS, INC.; RAPID-AMERICAN CORPORATION; RILEY POWER, INC., f/k/a Babcock Borsig, Inc., f/k/a Riley Stoker Corporation; SB DECKING, INC., f/k/a Selby, Battersby & Company; SEALING EQUIPMENT PRODUCTS CO. INC.; SIEMANS DEMAG DELAVAL TURBOMACHINERY, INC., f/k/a Demag Delaval Turbomachinery, Inc.; SCHNEIDER ELECTRIC USA, INC., f/k/a Square D Company; UNION CARBIDE CORPORATION; UNIROYAL, INCORPORATED; VALEN VALVE CORPORATION; WALLACE & GALE ASBESTOS SETTLEMENT TRUST; THE WALTER E. CAMPBELL COMPANY, INC.; WARREN PUMPS, LLC, f/k/a Warren Pumps, Incorporated; WEIL PUMP COMPANY INC.; WEIL-MCLAIN, INC.; YARWAY CORPORATION; ROCKWELL AUTOMATION, INC., successor-in- interest to Allen-Bradley Co., Defendants

Argued March 19, 2014

Petition for certiorari filed at, 12/15/2014

Page 317

Appeal from the United States District Court for the District of Maryland, at Baltimore. (1:12-cv-02294-CCB). Catherine C. Blake, District Judge.

ARGUED:

Michael James Ross, K& L GATES LLP, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for Appellant.

Jacqueline Gagne Badders, RUCKDESCHEL LAW FIRM, LLC, Ellicott City, Maryland, for Appellee.

ON BRIEF:

Nicholas P. Vari, Syed D. Ali, K& L GATES LLP, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Neil J. MacDonald, MACDONALD LAW GROUP, LLC, Beltsville, Maryland, for Appellant.

Jonathan Ruckdeschel, Z. Stephen Horvat, RUCKDESCHEL LAW FIRM, LLC, Ellicott City, Maryland, for Appellee.

Before DUNCAN, WYNN, and DIAZ, Circuit Judges. Judge Diaz wrote the opinion, in which Judge Wynn joined. Judge Duncan concurred in the judgment only.

OPINION

Page 318

DIAZ, Circuit Judge.

Crane Company, one of many defendants in this asbestos litigation, removed this case to federal court, asserting a federal defense to plaintiff James Joyner's[1] state tort claims. When Joyner amended his complaint, eliminating the claims underlying that federal defense, the district court remanded to state court. Crane now complains that it should have been given the opportunity to assert a new basis for federal jurisdiction--even though it had declined to do so in a timely fashion. We affirm the district court's decision to remand.

I.

A.

James Joyner was diagnosed with mesothelioma in March 2012. His illness allegedly resulted from exposure to asbestos while working as an electrician for the Coast Guard and then in the private sector.

Joyner filed suit in Maryland state court, alleging (1) strict liability for defective design and failure to warn; (2) breach of implied warranty; (3) negligence products liability claims; and (4) aiding and abetting and conspiracy to conceal information about the dangers of asbestos. Joyner named as defendants a number of manufacturers who allegedly supplied asbestos-containing materials with which he came into contact at various points in his career. One of those defendants, Crane Co., allegedly manufactured and supplied asbestos-containing valves and gaskets to the Navy,[2] on whose ships Joyner worked while employed by the Coast Guard.

Crane removed the case to federal court under the federal officer removal statute. See 28 U.S.C. § 1442(a)(1). That provision

Page 319

allows for removal of suits against " [t]he United States or . . . any officer . . . in an official or individual capacity, for or relating to any act under color of such office." Id. In support of its position, Crane averred that it would assert the federal contractor defense, as it had supplied the valves in conformance with military specifications. See J.A. 42. Crane's notice of removal did mention that the valves included gaskets as internal component parts, but Crane did not explicitly assert the defense as related to gaskets. See J.A. 42.

Joyner moved to remand to state court, arguing that Crane's evidence was insufficient to support its jurisdictional allegations. In the alternative, Joyner moved to sever the valve claims against Crane and to remand the claims against the other defendants--as well as Joyner's gasket claims against Crane--to state court. At oral argument before the district court, Crane explicitly refused to take a position as to whether the federal contractor defense applied to any gaskets Crane might have supplied. Rather, Crane apparently sought to preserve its contention that the gaskets simply weren't theirs. See J.A. 2646 (" Crane has a different position with regard to their gasket because it was never, never on the Navy's QPL [qualified products list] and should never have been used." ); see also J.A. 2732[3] (" To be clear, it is Crane Co.'s position that Mr. Joyner did not work with replacement Cranite gaskets on Navy vessels because Cranite gaskets were not on any government QPL list, and thus were not able to be ordered for use on Navy vessels through the procurement process." ). Crane declined, however, to make an argument in the alternative--that the gaskets " would have been supplied pursuant to detailed government specifications" --until much later in the litigation. J.A. 2732.

In a memorandum opinion and order issued March 7, 2013, the district court found that Crane had sufficiently supported removal pursuant to § 1442(a)(1), focusing on the valve claims. See Joyner v. A.C. & R. Insulation Co., No. CCB-12-2294, 2013 WL 877125 (D. Md. Mar. 7, 2013) . It did, however, grant in part Joyner's motion to sever the valve claims from all the others. The court noted that it could exercise supplemental jurisdiction over the other claims, but largely declined to do so. The court found that state law claims predominated over the claims implicating the federal defense and that Maryland had a strong interest in adjudicating its own state law claims, leading the court to sever the claims against the other defendants. But the court also noted its interest in economy, which weighed against forcing ...


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