In a new ruling by California’s Supreme Court, people injured outside the state can now file some claims collectively in California, broadening the right to sue for those injured outside of California by companies doing business nationwide.
As reported by Law360 (subscription), the decision arose out of eight separate cases filed in San Francisco in early 2013 by about 80 Californians and almost 600 people from 33 other states, each asserting claims of negligence, false or misleading advertising, and strict product liability associated with the prescription drug Plavix – a blood thinner designed to prevent blood clots following a heart attack or stroke.
Contrary to the sales and marketing campaigns associate with Plavix, however, the complaints alleged that many Plavix users suffered injuries such as bleeding ulcers, heart attacks, stroke, and even death. The company sought to block prosecution in California under a theory that courts in the state lacked jurisdiction over the non-resident injured. Plavix is manufactured by Bristol-Myers Squibb, which though headquartered in New York has numerous manufacturing and research facilities across the nation.
California high court ruling effectively broadens personal jurisdiction based on the fact that injuries between residents and non-residents were similar and that Plavix was marketed nationwide.
“In an era of historically tough economics and stretched court budgets, it’s awesome that the California Supreme Court took the high road welcoming out-of-state plaintiffs, recognizing that by doing so, the burden on other courts is lessened and the overall litigation will be speeded along — for all parties’ benefits,” stated Lieff Cabraser partner Fabrice N. Vincent.
Vincent further noted, “So many corporations have created corporate and other shell companies to unfairly protect themselves from compensation claims of injured consumers, even while the same corporations much benefit from easily selling and developing their products nationwide and in California. The Plavix ruling appropriately takes away a defective product manufacturers’ California get-out-of-jail-free card formerly granted by other courts. The Plavix decision, like other recent rulings, signals a California Supreme Court willing and eager to see that justice and fairness reign supreme nationwide, undaunted by challenging judicial economics and corporate shenanigans.“
Obtaining Justice for the Injured
Lieff Cabraser has played a leading role in many of the largest, most important personal injury law and wrongful death lawsuits in the U.S. These cases have involved negligent conduct as well as a vast range of defective products — from dangerous prescription drugs and faulty medical devices to unsafe vehicles and consumer products. In many cases, we assisted our clients in persuading the corporate defendants to issue recalls or improve their safety procedures for the protection of all consumers and patients.
About Fabrice Vincent
A partner in our San Francisco office, Fabrice N. Vincent is a tireless and principled advocate for the injured and the families of loved ones who died in personal injury and wrongful death cases. Fabrice played a pivotal role in the firm’s representation of patients injured by the diet drugs fenfluramine (sold as Pondimin) and dexfenfluramine (sold as Redux), which resulted in a $4.75 billion settlement for those who developed cardiac valve damage or the often fatal condition of Primary Pulmonary Hypertension after taking Pondimin or Redux. Fabrice successfully represented scores of injured patients in individual lawsuits.