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Winter v. Novartis Pharms. Corp.

United States District Court, E.D. New York

August 20, 2014

CHRISTINE WINTER, Plaintiff,
v.
NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CORPORATION, Defendant

For Christine Winter, as Personal Representative of the Estate of Ruth Baldwin, Plaintiff: John Julian Vecchione, LEAD ATTORNEY, Valad and Vecchione, Fairfax, VA; Terence J. Sweeney, LEAD ATTORNEY, New York, NY; Terence John Sweeney, LEAD ATTORNEY, Law Offices of Terence J. Sweeney, Esq., New York, NY.

For Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, Defendant: David Richman, LEAD ATTORNEY, Jacqueline Mecchella Bushwack, Rivkin, Radler LLP, Uniondale, NY; Gregory S. Chernack, Katharine R. Latimer, LEAD ATTORNEY, PRO HAC VICE, Hollingsworth LLP, Washington, DC.

Page 349

MEMORANDUM & ORDER

PAMELA K. CHEN, United States District Judge.

Pending before the Court are the cross letter-motions of Plaintiff and Defendant, respectively. Plaintiff moves to remand this action to state court on the basis that removal was improper because the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this judgment enforcement action. (Dkt. 9.) Defendant moves to dismiss or, alternatively, to deem the underlying judgment satisfied. (Dkt. 8.) Because Plaintiff has not registered the judgment with this Court, the Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this removal action, and must remand it to state court.

BACKGROUND

Plaintiff Christine Winter obtained a judgment, following a jury verdict, on April 9, 2012, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri. (Dkt. 8-1.)[1]

Page 350

On February 21, 2014, Plaintiff acknowledged that that judgment was satisfied in the Western District of Missouri. (Dkt. 8-1.) Plaintiff's acknowledgement of judgment, however, provided that " Plaintiff retains all rights to pursue the balance of the domesticated judgment in New York state court at the New York post judgment rate of 12% per annum." (Dkt. 8-1 at 1.) Plaintiff registered the judgment in the Supreme Court of New York on January 23, 2014. (Dkt. 1 ¶ 1.) On April 18, 2014, Plaintiff filed an action in the Supreme Court of New York, Kings County, seeking post-judgment interest at the New York statutory rate. (Dkt. 8.) Defendant timely removed that action to this Court on May 7, 2014. (Dkt. 1.) Critically, Plaintiff never registered the judgment with this Court.

On May 14, 2014, Defendant submitted a letter request for a premotion conference seeking permission to move to dismiss this action or to deem the judgment satisfied. (Dkt. 8.) On May 16, Plaintiff moved by letter to remand this action to state court on the basis of lack of subject matter jurisdiction. (Dkt. 9.) The Court held oral argument on the parties' respective motions and ordered the parties to submit additional argument in support of the motions. ( See June 19, 2014 Minute Entry.) The parties did so, and the motions were fully briefed on July 7, 2014. (Dkts. 16, 17.)

DISCUSSION

I. Removal and Subject Matter Jurisdiction

Pursuant to Title 28 U.S.C. § 1441, a defendant may remove a state court action to federal district court in the district embracing the state court in which the action originated where the district court has original jurisdiction over the matter. See 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). In other words, a defendant may remove an action that, in its present posture, could have been brought in federal court originally. See Freeman v. Burlington Broadcasters, Inc., 204 F.3d 311, 319 (2d Cir. 2000) (noting that action " could have been brought originally in a district court, and is therefore properly removable" ) (citing 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a)).

Federal courts are of limited jurisdiction and " possess[] only that power authorized by Constitution and statute." Kokkonen v. Guardian Life Ins. Co. of Am., 511 U.S. 375, 378, 114 S.Ct. 1673, 128 L.Ed.2d 391 (1994). " It is to be presumed that a cause lies outside this limited jurisdiction and the burden of establishing the contrary rests upon the party asserting jurisdiction." Id. (internal citation omitted). In a case removed to federal court from state court, the removal statute is to be interpreted narrowly, and the burden is on the removing party to show that subject matter jurisdiction exists and that removal was timely and proper. Lupo v. Human Affairs Int'l, Inc., 28 F.3d 269, 274 (2d Cir. ...


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