Adams v. American Home Prods. Corp., Civ.A. 00-D-1481-N.

CourtUnited States District Courts. 11th Circuit. Middle District of Alabama
Writing for the CourtMent
Citation122 F.Supp.2d 1301
PartiesMary Claire ADAMS, Plaintiff, v. AMERICAN HOME PRODS. CORP., et al., Defendants.
Docket NumberNo. Civ.A. 00-D-1481-N.,Civ.A. 00-D-1481-N.
Decision Date30 November 2000
122 F.Supp.2d 1301
Mary Claire ADAMS, Plaintiff,
AMERICAN HOME PRODS. CORP., et al., Defendants.
No. Civ.A. 00-D-1481-N.
United States District Court, M.D. Alabama, Northern Division.
November 30, 2000.

Page 1302

Ted L. Mann, Mann & Cowan, Birmingham, AL, for plaintiff.

Robert L. Lichenstein, Jr., Marcie A. Paduda, Maibeth J. Porter, Thomas Werth Thagard III, Katharine A. Weber, Maynard, Cooper & Gale, Birmingham, AL, for American Home Products.


DE MENT, District Judge.

Before the court is Plaintiff Mary Claire Adams' Motion To Remand, which was filed on November 6, 2000 along with a supporting brief. Defendant American Home Products Corporation filed a Response on November 22, 2000. After careful consideration of the arguments of counsel, the relevant law, and the record as a whole, the court finds that Plaintiff's Motion is due to be granted.


This is one of several cases presently pending in the Middle District of Alabama that involves tort claims arising from the sale of Redux and Pondimin, two diet medications manufactured by American Home Products Corporation. Plaintiff Mary Claire Adams filed this lawsuit in the Circuit Court of Bullock County, Alabama. She brought suit against her physician (Dr. Kynard L. Adams), the pharmacies that distributed the diet drugs (Teva Pharmaceuticals, Inc. and Abana Pharmaceuticals, Inc.), and American Home Products Corporation. The suit was subsequently removed to federal court, based on allegations of complete diversity of citizenship. See 28 U.S.C. 1332.


Removal of a case from state to federal court is proper if the case could have been brought originally in federal court. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). A federal district court may assert jurisdiction in a case involving complete diversity of citizenship between the parties, provided that the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a).

The defendant, as the removing party, bears the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction. See Diaz v. Sheppard, 85 F.3d 1502, 1505 (11th Cir.1996). Removal statutes are strictly construed because of the significant federalism concerns raised by removal. See Shamrock Oil & Gas Corp. v. Sheets, 313 U.S. 100, 61 S.Ct. 868, 85 L.Ed. 1214 (1941); Seroyer v. Pfizer, Inc., 991 F.Supp. 1308, 1312 (M.D.Ala.1997). "All doubts [and uncertainties] about federal court jurisdiction must be resolved in favor of a remand to state court." Seroyer, 991 F.Supp. at 1312

Page 1303

(citing Burns v. Windsor Ins. Co., 31 F.3d 1092, 1095 (11th Cir.1994)).

American Home Products argues that each of the three non-diverse parties have been fraudulently joined. Therefore, it contends that the court should proceed as if there is complete diversity among the parties. In analyzing whether joinder is fraudulent, the court "should resolve all questions of fact and controlling law in favor of the plaintiff." See Cabalceta v. Standard Fruit Co., 883 F.2d 1553, 1561 (11th Cir.1989). The court may consider "any submitted affidavits and/or deposition transcripts." Id.; see also Burden v. General Dynamics Corp., 60 F.3d 213, 217 (5th Cir.1995). If there is no possibility that the plaintiff can establish a cause of action against a resident defendant, then the court will disregard the defendant's citizenship for jurisdictional purposes. See Tapscott v. MS Dealer Serv. Corp., 77 F.3d 1353, 1360 (11th Cir.1996). Because American Home Products' motion fails if any Alabama citizen has not been fraudulently joined, the court addresses the motion only with respect to Dr. Adams.

Ms. Adams and Dr. Adams are both citizens of Alabama. The issue, then, is whether American Home Products has met its "heavy" burden of proving that Dr. Adams was fraudulently joined. See Crowe v. Coleman, 113 F.3d 1536, 1538 (11th Cir.1997). The court finds that it has not. The record does not clearly establish that there is no possibility that Ms. Adams can recover from Dr. Adams. (Compl. ¶ 15.) See Triggs v. John Crump Toyota, Inc., 154 F.3d 1284, 1287 (11th Cir.1998); Cabalceta v. Standard Fruit Co., 883 F.2d 1553, 1561 (11th Cir.1989); Coker v. Amoco Oil Co., 709 F.2d 1433, 1440 (11th Cir.1983).

It is undisputed that Dr. Adams prescribed Ms. Adams two drugs, Redux and/or Pondimin, for a one-year time period beginning in 1996. Ms. Adams took these drugs "as prescribed." (Compl. ¶ 7.) She filed her claim September 27, 2000, and it was removed to federal court. A claim against Dr. Adams is governed by the Alabama Medical Liability Act ("AMLA"), which basically establishes a two-year statute of limitations for medical malpractice actions. See ALA.CODE § 6-5-482 (1975). Specifically, the statute provides:

(a) All actions against physicians, surgeons, dentists, medical institutions, or other health care providers for liability, error, mistake, or failure to cure, whether based on contract or tort, must be commenced within two years next after the act, or omission, or failure giving rise to the claim, and not afterwards; provided, that if the cause of action is not discovered and could not reasonably have been discovered within such period, then the action may be commenced within six months from the date of such discovery or the date of discovery of facts which would reasonably lead to such discovery, whichever is earlier; provided further, that in no event may the action be commenced more than four years after such act ...

Id. § 6-5-482(a).

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