Leite v. Crane Co., No. 12-16864 (9th Cir. 2014)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs, machinists at Pearl Harbor, filed suit against defendants under state tort law on the theory that defendants failed to warn them of the hazards posed by asbestos used in and around equipment defendants sold to the Navy. Defendant Crane removed the actions to federal court under the federal removal statute, 28 U.S.C. 1442. The district court denied plaintiffs' motions to remand to state court and certified their orders for interlocutory appeal. The federal officer removal statute authorizes removal of a civil action brought against any person "acting under" an officer of the United States "for or relating to any act under color of such office." In this instance, Crane established that it is a "person" within the meaning of the statute, a causal nexus exists between plaintiffs' claims and the actions Crane took under the federal officer's direction, and it has a "colorable" federal defense to plaintiffs' claims. Accordingly, the court affirmed the district court's orders.
Court Description: Removal Jurisdiction. The panel affirmed the district court’s orders denying motions to remand to state court actions that were removed to federal court under the federal officer removal statute, 28 U.S.C. § 1442. Plaintiffs worked as machinists at the Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, and they alleged that Crane Co. failed to warn them of the hazards posed by asbestos used in and around equipment that Crane Co. sold to the United States Navy. The panel held that a plaintiff’s motion to remand may raise either a facial attack or a factual attack on the defendant’s jurisdictional allegations. The panel held that plaintiffs raised a factual attack by contesting the truth of Crane’s allegations regarding the existence of a colorable federal defense and requisite causal nexus. The panel noted that Crane bore the burden of proving by a preponderance of the evidence that the colorable federal defense and causal nexus requirements for removal jurisdiction were met. Crane asserted a government contractor defense, and the panel held that Crane’s affidavits established that it had a colorable federal defense. Finally, the panel held that Crane proved by a preponderance of the evidence that a causal nexus existed between plaintiffs’ claims and actions Crane took at the direction of a federal officer.