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LANCASTER GEN. HOSP. v. EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVS. FE

February 25, 1982

LANCASTER GENERAL HOSPITAL, Plaintiff,
v.
EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVICES FEDERATION, Defendant



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TROUTMAN

PROCEEDINGS

THE COURT: Because equitable, injunctive and indeed emergency relief has been sought at the hands of the Court, we have felt disposed to attempt to give the parties the immediate service which they seek, and accordingly propose to dispose of this matter by a bench opinion based upon our analysis of the record, the arguments of counsel, and without the niceties and the luxuries of a full-blown, carefully prepared written memorandum duly edited.

 Our analysis of the propriety of the instant removal petition begins with the oft-cited proposition that courts refer only to the allegations of the plaintiff's pleading in deciding a motion to remand. American Fire and Casualty Company v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 14, 71 S. Ct. 534, 540, 95 L. Ed. 702 (1951); Paxton v. Weaver, 553 F.2d 936, 938 (5th Cir. 1977); Crosby v. Paul Hardeman, Inc., 414 F.2d 1, at page 3 (8th Cir. 1969). Now, in the case at bar, the plaintiff complains generally that the defendant, Emergency Health Services Federation of South Central Pennsylvania, hereinafter called the Federation, will shortly designate an area-wide trauma center for an eight- county area. This designation purportedly will take place in a manner which allegedly offends several Pennsylvania statutes as well as implicating the federal antitrust laws, Title 42 U.S.C. 1983, and the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States.

 Importantly, removal jurisdiction is to be strictly construed; doubts regarding the propriety thereof are resolved in favor of remand. Greenshields v. Warren Petroleum Corporation, 248 F.2d 61 (10th Cir.), cert. denied, 355 U.S. 907, 78 S. Ct. 334, 2 L. Ed. 2d 262 (1957). Moreover, federal courts scrutinize complaints to determine whether removal of jurisdiction properly appears on the face thereof, Westmoreland Hospital Association v. Blue Cross, 605 F.2d 119, 123 (3rd Cir. 1979), cert. denied, 444 U.S. 1077, 100 S. Ct. 1025, 62 L. Ed. 2d 759 (1980); Wolgin v. State Mutual Investors, 442 F. Supp. 974, 976 (E.D.Pa.1977) and may not consider other documents including the removal petition.

 In the case at bar, the defendant's removal petition cites 28 U.S.C. 1441(c) as providing authority to support removal. That statute provides:

 
"(c) Whenever a separate and independent claim or cause of action, which would be removable if sued upon alone, is joined with one or more otherwise nonremovable claims or causes of action, the entire case may be removed and the district court may determine all issues therein, or, in its discretion, may remand all matters not otherwise within its original jurisdiction."

 The question for decision is whether plaintiff's complaint discloses "a separate and independent claim or cause of action which would be removable if sued upon alone." Interpreting this provision, the Supreme Court has held that:

 
"Where there is a single wrong to the plaintiff for which relief is sought arising from an interlocked series of transactions, there is no separate and independent claim."

 See American Fire and Casualty Company v. Finn, 341 U.S. 6, 71 S. Ct. 534, 95 L. Ed. 702 (1951).

 Further defining section 1441(c), the Tenth Circuit opined that:

 
"The word "separate' means distinct; apart from; not united or associated. The word "independent' means not resting on something else for support; self-sustaining; not contingent or conditioned."

 See Scott v. Metropolitan Life Insurance Company, 450 F. Supp. 801, 802 (W.D.Okl.1978), quoting, Snow v. Powell, 189 F.2d 172, 174 (10th Cir. 1951). Likewise, see the City of Philadelphia v. DeSabato, Incorporated, 347 F. Supp. 309, 311 (E.D. of Pa.1972).

 All of plaintiff's complaints revolve around a single perceived wrong; namely, the improper designation of an area-wide trauma center. Even the alleged constitutional deprivations spring from this one factual event. As such, there is an insufficient "disassociation between the federally cognizable rights and those cognizable only in state courts." See American Fire and Casualty Company v. Finn, 341 U.S. at page 12, 71 S. Ct. at 539.

 Where, as here, plaintiff's complaint reveals a single perceived wrong and seeks only one form of redress, although alleging a multitude of legal theories, section 1441(c) removal is inappropriate. See Sessions v. Chrysler Corporation, 517 F.2d 759, 761 (9th Cir. 1975) holding that two causes of action premised upon a single wrong do not support section 1441(c) removal jurisdiction. Likewise, see Paxton v. Weaver, 553 F.2d 936, 941 n.6 (5th Cir. 1977). We also note Clarence E. Morris, Incorporated v. Vitek, 412 F.2d 1174, 1176 (9th Cir. 1969) holding that claims are not separate and independent of each other for 1441(c) purposes if multiple claims grow out of a single actionable wrong. See Lewis v. Time, Incorporated, 83 F.R.D. 455, 459 (E.D.Cal.1979) holding again that a single wrong cannot be parlayed into separate and independent causes of action by multiplying legal theories upon which relief ...


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