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Zimmer U.S. Inc. v. Sikkelee

United States District Court, N.D. Indiana, South Bend Division

May 16, 2017

ZIMMER U.S. INC., BIOMET ORTHOPEDICS LLC, and BIOMET SPORTS MEDICINE LLC, Plaintiffs,
v.
PAUL SIKKELEE and MEDACTA USA INC., Defendants.

          OPINION AND ORDER

          Robert L. Miller, Jr. Judge United States District Court

         Zimmer US, Inc., Biomet Orthopedics, LLC, and Biomet Sports Medicine, LLC sued Paul Sikkelee and Medacta USA, Inc. in Kosciusko County Circuit Court for breaching restrictive covenants, unfair competition, and tortious interference with contract. The defendants removed the case to this court and the plaintiffs now ask for remand.

         I. Background

         The plaintiffs allege the following. Zimmer US, Biomet Orthopedics, and Biomet Sports Medicine are all subsidiaries of Zimmer Biomet Holdings, Inc. Paul Sikkelee was a sales representative for Zimmer Biomet medical devices, working for G. Barnett, Inc. d/b/a Biomet Summit Surgical. He signed non-compete and non-solicitation agreements in favor of Biomet Orthopedics and Biomet Sports Medicine. While in this position, he grew Zimmer Biomet's business with St. Luke's Hospital in Columbus, North Carolina and, in particular, with surgeon Dr. Brian Rosenburg.

         Mr. Sikkelee stopped selling devices for Biomet Summit Surgical and started selling for Medacta, another medical device company and Zimmer Biomet competitor. Soon after he started selling Medacta devices, St. Luke's Hospital and Dr. Rosenburg switched nearly all of their business from Zimmer Biomet to Medacta devices. Mr. Sikkelee continues to sell for Medacta and to court business from St. Luke's Hospital and Dr. Rosenburg. The plaintiffs claim that Mr. Sikkelee breached the non-compete and non-solicitation agreements in his contracts with Biomet Summit Surgical and in favor of Biomet Orthopedics and Biomet Sports Medicine.

         Steve Kirschner was another sales representative for Zimmer Biomet medical devices. He signed a non-compete and non-solicitation agreement in favor of Zimmer US. Mr. Kirschner then stopped selling Zimmer Biomet products and began working as a territory manager for Medacta. In this position, he developed Medacta business in the same territory where he had sold Zimmer Biomet products.

         After Zimmer U.S. threatened to enforce the non-compete and non-solicitation agreement against Mr. Kirschner, Mr. Kirschner entered into a settlement agreement with Zimmer US, restricting the scope of his duties for Medacta and releasing Mr. Kirschner from Zimmer US's claims against him. The agreement didn't release Medacta. Even after settlement, Medacta allegedly encouraged Mr. Kirschner to take part in recruiting activities that violated his settlement agreement.

         The plaintiffs are suing Medacta for tortiously interfering with their respective contracts with Mr. Sikkelee and Mr. Kirschner. They sue Mr. Sikkelee for breaching and tortiously interfering with his non-compete and non-solicitation agreements with Biomet Sports Medicine and Biomet Orthopedics. They sue Mr. Sikkelee and Medacta for unfair competition by using confidential information Mr. Sikkelee acquired while selling Zimmer Biomet products for the benefit of Medacta.

         The plaintiffs allege that Zimmer U.S. is incorporated in Delaware and has its principal place of business in Indiana. They say Biomet Orthopedics and Biomet Sports Medicine are Indiana limited liability companies with their principal places of business in Indiana. They say Mr. Sikkelee is a citizen of North Carolina and Medacta is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Illinois.

         The plaintiffs sued in the Kosciusko County Circuit Court. The defendants then filed a notice of removal, removing the case to this court. 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441(a), 1446(a). The plaintiffs now ask this court to remand the case back to the county court, arguing that the defendants' notice was defective and that this court doesn't have subject matter jurisdiction. §§ 1332, 1447(c).

         II. Discussion

         “Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction and may only exercise jurisdiction where it is specifically authorized by federal statute.” Evers v. Astrue, 536 F.3d 651, 657 (7th Cir. 2008). Defendants in a state court case can remove to federal court if the federal court would have original jurisdiction over the case. 28 U.S.C. § 1441(a). One route for original jurisdiction is “complete diversity between all named plaintiffs and all named defendants, and no defendant is a citizen of the forum state.” Lincoln Prop. Co. v. Roche, 546 U.S. 81, 84 (2005); § 1332(a). To remove, the defendants must file a “notice of removal . . . containing a short and plain statement of the grounds for removal.” § 1446(a).

         Failure to comply with § 1446 is a “defect in the removal procedure” that justifies a motion to remand within 30 days of filing the notice of removal. § 1447(c); In re Cont'l Cas. Co., 29 F.3d 292, 293 (7th Cir. 1994). If the court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, it must remand, with or without motion, at any time. § 1447(c). “Any doubt regarding jurisdiction should be resolved in favor of the states[, ] and the burden of establishing federal jurisdiction falls on the party seeking removal.” Doe v. Allied-Signal, Inc., 985 F.2d 908, 911 (7th Cir. 1993). The plaintiffs moved for remand within 30 days of the defendants' notice of removal. ...


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