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Malofiy v. Cardiac Science Corp.

November 12, 2010

FRANCIS MALOFIY, AS ADMINISTRATOR FOR THE ESTATE OF EUGENE MALOFIY, DECEASED PLAINTIFF,
v.
CARDIAC SCIENCE CORPORATION, TRI-HAMPTON RESCUE SQUAD AND UPPER SOUTHAMPTON POLICE DEPT. DEFENDANTS.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: DuBOIS, J.

MEMORANDUM

I. INTRODUCTION

This case arises out of the death of Southampton, Pennsylvania resident Eugene Malofiy. For the reasons that follow, the Court concludes it lacks subject matter jurisdiction over this action and remands it to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County.

II. BACKGROUND

Anna Malofiy awoke in her Southampton, Pennsylvania home about 4:15 a.m. on November 28, 2007, to find her husband, Eugene, shaking and unable to respond. (Am. Compl. ¶ 30.) She called 911 and began to administer CPR. (Id. ¶ 31.) A few minutes later, an officer from defendant Upper Southampton Police Department ("Upper Southampton") arrived with an automated external defibrillator ("AED"), which he attempted to use to resuscitate Eugene Malofiy. (Id. ¶ 33.) When the officer turned on the AED, however, it displayed the error message "Service Required" and failed to operate as expected. (Id. ¶ 34.) Officers from Upper Southampton and medics from defendant Tri-Hampton Rescue Squad ("Tri-Hampton") attempted to save Eugene Malofiy without the AED but were ultimately unsuccessful. (Id. ¶¶ 36-38, 45.)

Plaintiff Francis Malofiy ("Plaintiff"), Administrator of the Estate of Eugene Malofiy, filed the instant action in the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas on or about April 30, 2010. Named as defendants were Cardiac Science Corporation ("Cardiac"), manufacturer of the AED; Upper Southampton; and Tri-Hampton. On May 19, 2010, Cardiac removed the case to this Court. Plaintiff filed an Amended Complaint on September 13, 2010, after which Upper Southampton and Cardiac both filed Motions to Dismiss.

In its Amended Complaint, Plaintiff asserts various state-law theories of recovery against Cardiac for the malfunctioning of the AED. (Id. ¶¶ 78-180.) In addition -- or in the alternative -- Plaintiff asserts that Upper Southampton was negligent in its storage and maintenance of the AED and in its attempt to save Eugene Malofiy and that Tri-Hampton was negligent in its rescue attempt. (Id. ¶¶ 149-80.) Plaintiff makes no claim against any party arising under federal law.

The Court issued an Order on October 22, 2010, directing the parties to provide supplemental briefing on the issue of whether the Court has subject matter jurisdiction over the case. All parties timely filed memoranda of law on November 5, 2010.

III. DISCUSSION

After a case is removed from state to federal court, "[i]f at any time before final judgment it appears that the district court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case shall be remanded." 28 U.S.C. § 1447(c). While neither party raised the issue of subject matter jurisdiction prior to the Court's October 22, 2010 Order, "[a] federal court has the obligation to address a question of subject matter jurisdiction sua sponte." Meritcare Inc. v. St. Paul Mercury Ins. Co., 166 F.3d 214, 217 (3d Cir. 1999), abrogated in part on other grounds by Exxon Mobil Corp. v. Allapattah, 545 U.S. 546 (2005).

The only arguable bases for federal subject matter jurisdiction are (1) diversity of citizenship of the parties, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1); and (2) the presence of a federal question, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. The Court concludes that this case does not satisfy the standards for either basis for jurisdiction.

A. Diversity Jurisdiction

A federal district court has diversity jurisdiction over a case where "the matter in controversy exceeds the sum or value of $75,000, exclusive of interest and costs, and is between... citizens of different States." 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a)(1). The requirement that the controversy be between citizens of different states has been interpreted as a mandate of "complete diversity," meaning no plaintiff can be a citizen of the same state as any defendant. See, e.g., Zambelli Fireworks Mfg. Co. v. Wood, 592 F.3d 412, 419 (3d Cir. 2010).

From the face of the Amended Complaint, it is clear that Plaintiff, Tri-Hampton and Upper Southampton are all citizens of Pennsylvania. (See Am. Compl. ¶¶ 5, 15-16.)*fn1 As complete diversity is ...


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