The survivors of seven residents of the Cedar Ridge Inn nursing home in Farmington, New Mexico, filed lawsuits in New Mexico state court against the nursing home and its owners and managers (Cantex Health Care), alleging that their loved ones’ COVID-19 related deaths were the result of Cantex’s failure to adopt and implement measures to prevent and/or mitigate the spread of COVID-19. Cantex removed the cases to federal court, asserting jurisdiction under the diversity jurisdiction statute and the federal officer removal statute, and because the plaintiffs’ state-law claims were completely preempted by federal law.
The district court granted the plaintiffs’ motions to remand, rejecting each of the theories of federal jurisdiction. Cantex appealed the remand orders to the Tenth Circuit. In an amicus brief in support of the plaintiffs-appellees, Public Citizen explained that the Public Readiness and Emergency Preparedness (PREP) Act, a statute enacted in 2005 to encourage the production and distribution of vaccines and similar measures, is not a complete preemption statute, and that the statute has no application to claims based on failures to take adequate infection control measures.