Ninth Circuit Opinion to Remand Removal of Diversity Case
In the “Daily Appellate Report,” Daily Journal summarized the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit’s published opinion regarding GranCare, et al v. Ruth Thrower, et al, “showing fraudulent joinder is ‘heavy burden’ on defendant and should not be maintained unless plaintiff could not show joined party was liable ‘on any theory.’”
On April 26, 2018, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California’s order remanding a case and awarding costs and attorney’s fees in which Defendant-Appellant GranCare LLC (“GranCare”), a nursing operator, removed a diversity case to federal court, arguing that the sole non-diverse defendant, nursing home administrator Remy Rhodes, was fraudulently joined as a defendant in order to defeat diversity and prevent removal. The decision was in favor of Plaintiff Ruth Thrower, et al. after finding that Rhodes was not fraudulently joined and that removal was objectively unreasonable pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c).
The opinion stems from a lawsuit against 24-hour skilled nursing facility Vale Healthcare Center in San Pablo, CA, for elder abuse, negligence, negligent hiring and supervision, fraud and the wrongful death of 85-year-old Ruth Thrower. The lawsuit alleges Ms. Thrower suffered a preventable fall, a hip fracture and a wide array of other forms of misconduct that resulted in her death. As the operator of the facility, GranCare, LLC, has been named in previous lawsuits and cited for chronic infractions for putting other patients’ lives at risk.