SL Pathology Leasing of Texas LLC d/b/a Sightline Pathology v. Miraca Life Sciences, Inc. et al
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER GRANTED in part and DENIED in part 16 Opposed MOTION to Abate ( Responses due by 2/20/2015., Replies due by 2/27/2015)(Signed by Judge Nancy F. Atlas) Parties notified.(sashabranner, 4) (Main Document 20 replaced on 2/17/2015) (sashabranner, 4). (Main Document 20 replaced on 2/17/2015) (sashabranner, 4).
IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF TEXAS
SL PATHOLOGY LEASING OF
TEXAS LLC d/b/a SIGHTLINE
MIRACA LIFE SCIENCES, INC.,
CIVIL ACTION NO. H-14-3724
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
Before the Court in this contract and tort dispute is Plaintiff SL Pathology
Leasing of Texas LLC d/b/a Sightline Pathology’s (“Plaintiff”) Motion to Abate and
Motion to Extend Time to File Response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss (“Motion
to Abate”) [Doc. # 16]. Defendants Water Street Healthcare Partners LLC (“Water
Street”), David Pauluzzi (“Pauluzzi”), Lakewood Pathology Associates, Inc. d/b/a
PLUS Diagnostics (“PLUS”), and Miraca Life Sciences, Inc. (“Miraca”) (collectively,
“Defendants”) filed a Response [Doc. # 18], to which Plaintiff filed a Reply [Doc.
Plaintiff asks the Court to suspend the deadline for its response to Defendants’
Motion to Dismiss for Failure to State a Claim and for Failure to Plead Fraud with
Particularity [Doc. # 5] until after the Court decides Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand
[Doc. # 15]. Plaintiff failed to timely respond to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss by
the January 28, 2015 deadline. The Court, in the interests of justice, extended
Plaintiff’s deadline to respond to February 5, 2015 and warned Plaintiff that failure
to respond may result in the Motion to Dismiss being granted as unopposed. See
Order dated Jan. 29, 2015 [Doc. # 14]. On January 30, 2015, Plaintiff filed its Motion
to Remand, and, on February 2, 2015, Plaintiff filed the instant Motion to Abate
requesting a further extension of the deadline to respond to Defendants’ Motion to
Dismiss. Upon receiving Plaintiff’s Motion to Abate, the Court again extended the
deadline for Plaintiff’s response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss, this time setting
the response date at February 20, 2015. See Order dated Feb. 3, 2015 [Doc. # 17].
Currently, therefore, the responses from Defendants and Plaintiff to both the Motion
to Dismiss and the Motion to Remand are due February 20, 2015, and any replies are
due February 27, 2015.
Under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 6(b)(1)(A), the Court has discretion to
extend the deadline for plaintiff’s response upon a showing of good cause. See FED.
R. CIV. P. 6(b)(1)(A); McCarty v. Thaler, 376 F. App’x 442, 443 (5th Cir. 2010).
Plaintiff argues good cause exists to extend the deadline for its response because the
Court must resolve the jurisdictional issues raised by the Motion to Remand before
addressing the issues raised by the Motion to Dismiss and granting the extension is
in the interest of judicial economy. The Court agrees that the jurisdictional issues
must be addressed first. Nevertheless, if the Court denies remand, judicial economy
dictates that the Court be able to turn immediately to the issues raised in the Motion
to Dismiss. See Scarlott v. Ocwen Loan Serving, LLC, Civ. Action No. H-13-2742,
2014 WL 109409 (S.D. Tex. Jan. 10, 2014) (Atlas, J.); Johnlewis v. U.S. Bank, Nat’l
Ass’n, Civ. Action No. 12-3360, 2013 WL 5304050, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Sept. 20, 2013)
(Atlas, J.). District courts may and often do decide seriatim motions to remand and
dismiss. Having both motions fully briefed avoids unnecessary delay.
Defendants state that they have agreed that Plaintiff need not respond at this
time to the issues in the Motion to Dismiss except regarding the claims against
Miraca, see Response, at 4, a non-diverse party. Defendants removed this case on the
basis of improper joinder of Miraca, see Notice of Removal Under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441,
1446 [Doc. # 1], and contend that fully briefing the issues regarding claims against
Miraca will better allow the Court to resolve the Motion to Remand. Plaintiff
responds that the remand issues are not at all related to the dismissal arguments for
Miraca because the improper joinder analysis on the Motion to Remand is governed
by Texas’s fair notice pleading standard which is less stringent than the federal
pleading standard applied to a motion to dismiss under Federal Rule of Civil
Procedure 12(b)(6). Reply, at 11-13.
While the Court agrees that the state pleading standards generally apply for
fraudulent joinder purposes to assess claims pleaded and apply to motions to dismiss
when a case is removed from state court, see Cabreras v. Select Portfolio Servicing,
Inc., Civ. Action No. H-14-2910, 2014 WL 6694803, at *1 (S.D. Tex. Nov. 26, 2014)
(Atlas, J.); TSC Offshore Corp. v. Triumph Drilling (Sing.) Pte Ltd., Civ. Action No.
H-14-1599, 2014 WL 4064012, at *2 (S.D. Tex. Aug. 15, 2014) (Atlas, J.); Stevenson
v. Allstate Tex. Lloyd’s, No. 11-CV-3308, 2012 WL 360089, at *3 (S.D. Tex. Feb. 1,
2012) (Ellison, J.), the Court need not decide the legal merits of those claims here.
The sole question before the Court on the instant motion is whether good cause exists
to extend the deadline for Plaintiff to respond to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss.
The Court concludes that having the issues regarding Miraca fully briefed will
assist in assessing the fraudulent joinder question involved in the Motion to Remand.
Furthermore, it does not appear that Plaintiff will suffer prejudice from being required
to brief the issues regarding its claims against this party. Indeed, Plaintiffs’ extensive
briefing on the instant Motion to Abate indicates that it has already researched the
issues, at least in part. Accordingly, it is hereby
ORDERED that Plaintiff’s Motion to Abate [Doc. # 16] is GRANTED in part
and DENIED in part. Plaintiff’s response to Defendants’ Motion to Dismiss [Doc.
# 5] as to claims against Miraca is due February 20, 2015. Defendants’ reply is due
February 27, 2015. The deadline for Plaintiff to otherwise respond to Defendants’
Motion to Dismiss is abated until the Court decides the Motion to Remand.
SIGNED at Houston, Texas, this 17th day of February, 2015.
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