In Putnam v. Medtronic, Inc., an Indiana woman filed a medical product injury lawsuit asserting 15 state-law causes of action in Jefferson County Circuit Court against her Kentucky doctor, the manufacturer of a medical product, and the Kentucky hospital where she underwent spinal fusion surgery. According to the woman’s complaint, the physician used the medical product to treat her in an off-label manner that was not approved by the Food and Drug Administration. In addition, she accused the manufacturer of the product of intentionally and illegally promoting it for off-label use. The woman claimed she suffered harm as a result of this unapproved use and asked the Circuit Court to award her both compensatory and punitive damages.
The manufacturer of the medical product immediately removed the woman’s case to the Western District of Kentucky in Louisville based on diversity of citizenship. The manufacturer also asserted that removal was appropriate because the case involved questions of federal law. In response, the woman filed a motion to remand the lawsuit back to state court.
In considering the woman’s motion, the U.S. District Court examined the two sources of federal jurisdiction alleged in the case. Diversity jurisdiction is proper when the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 and the parties hail from different states. Federal question jurisdiction exists only when a lawsuit arises from the United States Constitution, federal statutes, or a treaty the nation is a party to. The U.S. District Court continued by stating the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction is on the party that seeks removal, and the case must be remanded if jurisdiction is not proper.