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Agee v. Monsanto Co.

ELR Citation: 40 ELR 20264
Nos. No. 3:09-cv-1336, (S.D. W. Va., 09/29/2010)

A district court granted an individual's motion to remand to state court her personal injury lawsuit against a chemical company and its successors for damages stemming from the unlawful disposal of dioxin and furan waste at a chemical plant in Nitro, West Virginia. She alleges that her exposure to the contamination caused her to develop cancer. The companies had the case removed to federal court. But the defendant companies' removal arguments fail. Federal diversity jurisdiction requires that every defendant be completely diverse from every plaintiff. Here, the companies failed to demonstrate that one of the successor company's principal place of business is outside of West Virginia. At most, they demonstrated that there is ambiguity surrounding that company's principal place of business—ambiguity that must be resolved against the defendants. Nor was one of the companies fraudulently joined to establish state jurisdiction. The court also rejected the defendants' reliance on the federal officer removal statute to establish federal jurisdiction. The defendants argued that the chemical company was compelled by the U.S. government to manufacturer the chemicals for use in Agent Orange. But there is no causal nexus between any government control of manufacturing and the defendants' waste disposal practices at the plant in Nitro. The plaintiff's motion to remand the case to state court was therefore granted.