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Federal Court Jurisdiction

Petition for a Writ of Certiorari

Conestoga Trust Services, LLC v. Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada

This petition arises from a declaratory judgment action by an insurer seeking to have a life insurance policy declared void ab initio after the death of the insured. The respondent, Sun Life, issued a $2 million life insurance policy to Erwin Collins that was later acquired by the petitioner, Conestoga. After Collins’s death, Sun Life filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee stating that it should not be obligated to pay the policy benefit on the grounds that it was a stranger-originated life insurance policy. Summary judgment was granted in favor of Sun Life and affirmed by the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals. Conestoga petitioned the Supreme Court of the United States to review whether a court considering a motion for summary judgment may, under the guise of applying the “reasonable jury” standard, weigh and discredit direct evidence from a disinterested witness that is favorable to the nonmovant and, if believed, would prove the material fact at issue.

Brief of Appellant

Infuturia Global, Ltd. v. Sequus Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

This case involves a lawsuit filed by Infuturia Global, Ltd. in California state court against Sequus, the Hebrew University and Yechezkel Barenholz. The lawsuit charged Sequus with interfering with a license agreement between Infuturia and the Yissum Research and Development Company. Sequus filed a motion to dismiss, claiming that Yissum was a “necessary” and “indispensable” party. Sequus also requested that the case be dismissed for its failure to identify specific products at issue for failure to state a claim. The Court granted the motion to dismiss on June 1, 2009. Infuturia filed an appeal in the case, charging that that the District Court erred in refusing to remand this case to state court, in granting Sequus’ motion to dismiss order for failure to join an indispensable party, and in granting Sequus’ Motion to Dismiss for failure to state a claim.

Plaintiffs’ Consolidated Motion to Remand and Brief in Support

Hughes, et al. v. Myland, Inc., et al.

Heygood, Orr & Pearson filed this brief on behalf of nineteen groups of plaintiffs whose fentanyl patch cases had been removed to federal court from the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas by the defendant drug companies. The defendants argued that their removal was proper because Mylan, Inc. (one of the defendant drug companies and a Pennsylvania resident) had been fraudulently joined in the action. Thus, according to defendants, the Pennsylvania citizenship of Mylan, Inc. could be ignored, and the case was properly removable because none of the other defendants were Pennsylvania residents. In this brief, Heygood, Orr and Pearson argued that the drug-company defendants’ removal was procedurally improper and that the case should be remanded back to the state court in Pennsylvania. Heygood, Orr and Pearson also explained that Mylan, Inc. was a proper defendant because of its involvement in the design and development of the Mylan fentanyl patch. The federal court agreed with the plaintiffs and sent the case back to the Pennsylvania Court of Common Pleas.

Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand

Morris v. Alza Corporation

In this case, the plaintiff, represented by Heygood, Orr & Pearson, sued several drug companies that manufacture and distribute a fentanyl patch. One of the defendants, Alza Corporation, is located in California and manufactures the patch there. So, the plaintiff brought his lawsuit in the Superior Court of California. Shortly after the lawsuit was filed and before the plaintiff had time to serve Alza with the complaint, the defendants removed the case to federal court. Ordinarily, the presence of an in-state or forum defendant like Alza precludes such a removal. But the defendants argued that their removal was proper because Alza had not yet been served with the complaint and the statute refers to defendants that are “joined and served.” In the plaintiff’s brief, we argued that the case should be remanded to state court because defendants’ interpretation of the “joined and served” language was at odds with the intent of Congress in passing the removal statute. The court agreed and remanded the case to the California state court. This brief was filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson on behalf of their client.

Memorandum in Support of Plaintiff’s Motion to Remand

Steuben v. Life Partners, Inc.

In this case, Heygood, Orr & Pearson filed a putative class action on behalf of certain California residents in California state court against Life Partners, Inc., a company that sells investments in life insurance policies. This particular brief was filed in federal court in California after the defendant removed the case. We argued that the court should remand the case to state court because the defendant failed to demonstrate that the amount in controversy exceeded $5 milllion floor for federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act of 2005. The judge agreed and remanded the case to the California state court where it had originally been filed. This brief was filed by Heygood, Orr & Pearson on behalf of their client.