A Missouri federal judge has stripped 86 plaintiffs from an Essure lawsuit that combined the claims of dozens of women in the US District Court for Eastern Missouri, according to medical reporting service Mass Device.
86 Plaintiffs Dismissed From Missouri Essure Lawsuit
In a ruling issued on July 14, 2017, Judge Carol Jackson held that the St. Louis court did not have jurisdiction to preside over the claims of women who were not residents of Missouri.
Judge Jackson’s decision leaves only eight claims pending before her, seven of which were filed by Essure patients who live in the State. The ninth claim was filed by a resident of Illinois who underwent her implantation procedure in Missouri.
Supreme Court Opinion Spells End For Out-Of-State Claims
Essure’s manufacturer, Bayer, is headquartered in New Jersey. Plaintiffs’ attorneys argued that, since Bayer conducts substantial business operations (e.g. marketing and selling products, including Essure) in Missouri, claims against the company could be heard legitimately in the State.
A recent Supreme Court decision, however, rendered that argument unpersuasive. In June, the nation’s highest court ruled in Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California that it really matters where an injury case is filed, even when that case involves a huge multinational corporation that operates in every state of the nation. Jurisdiction has to mean something, Justice Alito wrote for the 8 to 1 majority.
Where the case is filed, Alito says, should have something important to do with what the case is about. If filing the case in a different jurisdiction wouldn’t change anything important about the claims, the opinion continues, the case is probably in the wrong place. In short, the claims of the plaintiff must arise in some relevant way from the defendant’s activities in that jurisdiction.
General Business Activities Aren’t Enough
For all but nine of the Essure claims filed in Missouri federal court, Judge Clark found that this newly-articulated test was not satisfied. The lawsuits non-Missouri plaintiffs, the Judge wrote, don’t claim to have received Essure implants from a company in Missouri. None say they sustained their injuries in Missouri or were treated by Missouri doctors. On the other side of the equation, Judge Clark says, Bayer “did not develop, manufacture, label, package, or create a marketing strategy for Essure in Missouri.”
Bayer’s general business activities in the State, the Judge concluded, were not enough to make Missouri the right jurisdiction for claims filed by Essure patients from other states.
Plaintiffs Maintain: Missouri Is “Ground Zero” For Essure
Judge Clark’s decision has not convinced some plaintiffs’ attorneys. Speaking to Law360 shortly after the opinion was published, attorney Eric Holland argued that, rather than being an afterthought in the Essure story, “Missouri is ground zero” for the permanent birth control implant.
Holland says that his legal team prepared an amended complaint outlining the argument behind his contentious claim, including claims that Bayer developed an Essure marketing strategy to target Missouri specifically and conducted several pre-approval studies on the implant in the State.
These arguments, Clark continued, don’t appear to have been considered in Judge Jackson’s opinion. He hopes to bring his claims to the Missouri Court’s attention in the near future, filing a motion for reconsideration in the US District Court of Missouri on July 17.
Thanks to our friends at Shaw Law, Oklahoma criminal defense attorneys, for their contributions to this post.