By Jon Campisi | Jun 5, 2012

A federal judge sitting in Philadelphia has denied a motion by the plaintiffs in a product liability case to remand the litigation to state court due to what the plaintiffs argued were technical deficiencies in the defendants’ removal notice.

In a May 31 order, U.S. District Judge Mary A. McLaughlin simultaneously denied the plaintiffs’ remand motion and granted a defense motion to amend its notice of removal in the case of Ignace E. Godonou et al. v. Rondo Inc. et al.

Philadelphia resident Ignace Godonou and his wife, Bervanice S. Greene, filed suit in March against Rondo Inc. and Erika Record LLC.

The lawsuit alleges that while working as a baker at LeBus Bakery in King of Prussia, Pa. in mid-March 2010, he became injured after the guillotine of a bread production machine came down on his right hand and wrist, pinning his extremity for about 10 minutes.

Godonou allegedly suffered ligament injuries, carpel tunnel syndrome and a hand contusion as a result of the incident.

The lawsuit, filed at the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas by attorneys Jeffrey F. Laffey and Brian D. Kent, contains counts of negligence and strict liability.

On April 19, attorneys for Moonachie, New Jersey-based Rondo Inc. and Clifton, New Jersey-based Erika Record LLC filed a Notice of Removal at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania seeking to transfer venue from Philadelphia’s Court of Common Pleas to the federal venue.

Rondo is the company that manufactured the machine that allegedly caused Godonou’s injuries while Erika Record is the distribution firm that supplied the product to LeBus Bakery, the plaintiff’s employer.

In the removal notice, the defendants’ attorneys argued that the litigation should play out in federal court because complete diversity exists among the parties and because the amount in controversy exceeds the jurisdictional limits at state court.

The plaintiffs, however, moved to remand the case to state court on the ground that the pleadings failed to provide the information necessary to establish diversity jurisdiction.

Specifically, the plaintiffs contended that the removal notice did not set forth the citizenship of Erika Record.

In response to the plaintiffs’ motion to remand, Rondo filed a motion to amend the notice of removal.

McLaughlin, citing case law, said a defense motion to amend the removal notice would be appropriate in this case.

The U.S. Third Circuit Court of Appeals has determined that federal district courts have the power to remedy “inadequate jurisdictional allegations,” but not defective jurisdictional facts.

In this case, granting the motion to amend the removal notice is appropriate because the defendant seeks to remedy only inadequate jurisdictional allegations made in the notice of removal.

The judge gave Rondo until June 14 to file an amended notice.

The litigation accuses the defendants of breaching their duties and obligations by designing, assembling and manufacturing a defective product, failing to have adequate safety warnings on the product, failing to provide the plaintiff’s employer with proper warnings about the device, and failing to adequately test the product before it was put into the stream of commerce.

The suit also contains a loss of consortium count in which Greene claims she was deprived of her husband’s companionship due to his injuries.

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