Tindle v. Modine Manufacturing Company
ORDER. Plaintiff Lisa Tindle's motion to remand, 11 , is DENIED. It is further ORDERED that the parties Rule 26 conference shall be completed by April 28, 2014 and a proposed scheduling order shall be submitted by May 5, 2014. Signed on 4/15/2014 by District Judge Nanette K. Laughrey. (Weber, Alex) Modified on 4/15/2014 (Weber, Alex).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE
WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
LISA TINDLE, as the Wife of JAMES
TINDLE and as Plaintiff Ad Litem for
JAMES TINDLE, deceased,
Pending before the Court is Plaintiff Lisa Tindle’s motion to remand. [Doc. # 11].
For the reasons set forth below, Tindle’s motion to remand is DENIED.
Plaintiff is the widow of James Tindle, who is alleged to have died from multiple
myeloma that developed as a result of his exposure to a variety of harmful substances
while he was employed at a manufacturing plant located in Jefferson City, Missouri that
is owned and operated by Defendant Modine Manufacturing Company. Plaintiff’s fivecount petition for damages, originally filed in Missouri state court, asserts claims for
premises liability, negligence, fraudulent concealment, wrongful death as permitted by
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 537.080, and punitive damages. Plaintiff is a resident of Missouri and
Defendant is a Wisconsin corporation with its principal place of business in Wisconsin.
On March 10, 2014, Defendant removed this case on the basis of diversity jurisdiction.
On April 4, 2014, all proceedings in this case were stayed pending the resolution of
Plaintiff’s motion to remand.
It is undisputed that complete diversity exists and that the amount in controversy
exceeds the jurisdictional minimum, such that the requirements of federal diversity
jurisdiction are met. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332. Plaintiff argues, however, that removal of
this case is barred by § 1445(c), which states, “A civil action in any State court arising
under the workmen’s compensation laws of such State may not be removed to any district
court of the United States.” If this section applies, the case is not removable “even if it
presents a federal question or there is diversity.” Humphrey v. Sequentia, Inc., 58 F.3d
1238, 1245 (8th Cir. 1995). Thus, the sole question presented on this motion is whether
Plaintiff’s claims arise under Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws.
In Humphrey, the Eighth Circuit held that a claim for retaliatory discharge under
Mo. Rev. Stat. § 287.780 (1994) “ ‘arose under’ Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws
because the right established by § 287.780 is an essential element of plaintiff’s claim, the
success of plaintiff's claim will depend on how § 287.870 is construed, a genuine and
present controversy exists with reference to § 287.780, and the controversy is disclosed
upon the face of the complaint.” Id. at 1240, 1246. In reaching this conclusion, the court
ruled that “where a state legislature enacts a provision within its workers’ compensation
laws and creates a specific right of action, a civil action brought to enforce that right of
action is, by definition, a civil action arising under the workers’ compensation laws of
that state.” Id. at 1246. The court also distinguished the retaliation claim at issue from
the one considered in Spearman v. Exxon Coal USA, Inc., 16 F.3d 722 (7th Cir. 1994), in
which the Seventh Circuit held that the plaintiff’s claim for retaliatory discharge did not
arise under Illinois’ workers’ compensation laws for the purposes of section 1445(c).
The Humphrey court found Spearman distinguishable because, in that case, “the Seventh
Circuit specifically explained that the plaintiff’s fault-based retaliatory discharge claim
was not embodied in the Illinois statutory workers’ compensation scheme, but rather
derived from the state’s common law.” Humphrey, 58 F.3d at 1245 (citing Spearman, 16
F.3d at 725).
In the present case, Plaintiff’s petition does not seek to enforce a specific right of
action created by Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws and in fact makes no reference
to any provision of Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws. Instead, Plaintiff asserts a
number of common law theories of tort liability that exist independent of any statutory
cause of action. See [Doc. # 1-1 at 4-13]. It is thus clear from the face of Plaintiff’s
petition that she is asserting common law tort claims, which cannot be said to arise under
Missouri’s workers’ compensation laws and therefore may be removed. See, e.g.,
Meisinger v. Specialty Risk Servs., No. 10-0866-CV-W-SOW, 2010 WL 8354692, at *3
(W.D. Mo. Nov. 19, 2010) (“[I]f the claim is not expressly provided for in a state’s
workers’ compensation statute, but is fashioned by the courts from a state’s common law,
the claim does not ‘arise under’ the state’s workers’ compensation laws and therefore can
be removed.”); Hanna v. Fleetguard, Inc., 900 F. Supp. 1110, 1118 (N.D. Iowa 1995)
(same). Although Plaintiff could have elected to pursue this action under Missouri’s
workers’ compensation laws, see, e.g., Amesquita v. Gilster-Mary Lee Corp., 408 S.W.3d
293, 301 (Mo. Ct. App. 2013), she instead chose to assert claims premised on common
law tort liability. Consequently, no right established by Missouri’s workers’
compensation laws is an essential element of Plaintiff’s cause of action and section
1445(c) does not bar the removal of this case.
For the foregoing reasons, Tindle’s motion to remand, [Doc. # 11], is DENIED. It
is further ORDERED that the parties’ Rule 26 conference shall be completed by April 28,
2014 and a proposed scheduling order shall be submitted by May 5, 2014.
/s Nanette K. Laughrey
NANETTE K. LAUGHREY
United States District Judge
Dated: April 15, 2014
Jefferson City, Missouri
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