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In re Pradaxa (Dabigatran Etexilate) Products Liability Litigation

United States District Court, Seventh Circuit

January 13, 2014

IN RE PRADAXA (DABIGATRAN ETEXILATE) PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION
v.
BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC., BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMA GmbH & CO. KG, BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM INTERNATIONAL GmbH, BIDACHEM S.P.A., and DOES 1-100 Defendants. This Document Relates to THELMA BUTNER, CLIFTON FITZSIMMONS, JOHN WILCHINSKI, GEORGE FLETCHER, and PAULINE ALDRIDGE, Plaintiffs,

ORDER

DAVID R. HERNDON, Chief District Judge.

I. INTRODUCTION

Presently before the Court is Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc's ("BIPI") motion to dismiss and motion to strike pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b) and (f) (Doc. 17). On March 28, 2013, the plaintiffs filed their initial response to BIPI's motion to dismiss (Doc. 34). Shortly thereafter, the plaintiffs sought leave to file an amended responsive pleading (Doc. 35). The plaintiffs stated that the initial responsive pleading was an "older working draft" that was inadvertently filed (Doc. 35). Therefore, the plaintiffs asked for permission to file an amended responsive pleading that would replace the original responsive pleading (Doc. 35). The Court granted the plaintiffs' motion and the plaintiffs' filed their amended responsive pleading on April 1, 2013 (Doc. 37). Accordingly, the only responsive pleading before the Court is the amended responsive pleading (Doc. 37). BIPI filed a reply brief, stating exceptional circumstances, on April 11, 2013 (Doc. 38). The reply brief indicates that BIPI is withdrawing its motion to dismiss as to certain claims and is withdrawing two of its motion to strike arguments. It further contends that the plaintiffs have abandoned certain claims. Finally, in August 2013, the Court directed the plaintiffs to file supplemental briefing for the purpose of clarifying jurisdictional facts (Doc. 39, 40, 41, 42).

In its initial motion to dismiss and/or strike, BIPI contends that the plaintiffs' claims for Failure to Warn (First Cause of Action), Strict Products Liability - Design Defect (Second Cause of Action), Negligence (Third Cause of Action), Breach of Implied Warranty (Fourth Cause of Action), Breach of Express Warranty (Fifth Cause of Action), Negligent Misrepresentation (Sixth Cause of Action), Fraud by Concealment (Seventh Cause of Action), Deceit by Concealment - California Civil Code Sections 1709 and 1710 (Eighth Cause of Action), Violation of California Business & Professions Code Section 17200 (Ninth Cause of Action), Violation of California Business & Professions Code Section 17500 (Tenth Cause of Action), Violation of California Civil Code Section 1750 (Eleventh Cause of Action), and Loss of Consortium (Twelfth Cause of Action) fail to state a claim for relief under the applicable legal standards and are barred as a matter of law. BIPI further moves to dismiss the plaintiffs' punitive damages claim, the loss of consortium plaintiffs' claims, as well as the claims of the Tennessee and Louisiana plaintiffs under their respective state laws and statutes.

Additionally, BIPI asks the Court for an Order pursuant to Rule 12(f) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, striking all allegations that BIPI failed to warn "plaintiff" or the "public, " all fraud on the FDA claims, and any alleged violations of the Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act as immaterial and barred as a matter of law.

Finally, in its reply brief, BIPI informed the Court as follows:

BIPI withdraws its challenge to Cause of Action 1 (Failure to Warn) as to all Plaintiffs; Cause of Action 2 (Design Defect) as to Tennessee and Louisiana Plaintiffs; Cause of Action 3 (Negligence) as to Tennessee and California Plaintiffs; Count 4 (Breach of Implied Warranty) as to Tennessee Plaintiffs; Count 5 as to all Plaintiffs; Counts 9-10 as to California Plaintiffs. BIPI further withdraws the first two arguments in its Motion to Strike. Also, in light of this Court's recent ruling in Hale v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 44270, 29-30 (S.D. Ill. Mar. 28, 2013), BIPI withdraws its statute of limitations challenge at this time. The consortium claims (Cause of Action 12) stand only to the extent of their spouses' viable claims.

(Doc. 38 p. 2 n.1).

The Court has reviewed BIPI's motion to dismiss and/or strike (Doc. 17), the plaintiffs' amended responsive pleading (Doc. 37), BIPI's reply (Doc. 38), and the plaintiffs' supplemental briefing regarding citizenship (Doc. 40, Doc. 42). For the reasons discussed herein, BIPI's motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

II. BACKGROUND

A. Procedural Background

This multi-plaintiff action was originally filed in the Superior Court of the State of California for the County of San Francisco (Doc. 1-1). The plaintiffs' state court complaint directed claims against various entities allegedly involved in the development, sale, manufacture, promotion, and/or distribution of the prescription pharmaceutical Pradaxa. One of the defendants, BIPI, removed the action to the United States District Court for the Northern District of California on the basis of diversity jurisdiction (Doc. 1). Thereafter, the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation transferred the action to this Court for inclusion in MDL 2385.

In its notice of removal, BIPI argued that complete diversity was present because the two nondiverse defendants, Boehringer Ingelheim Fremont, Inc. ("BIF") and McKesson Corporation ("McKesson") (both citizens of California) were fraudulently joined (Doc. 1). The plaintiffs moved to remand (Doc. 14). On February 22, 2013, the Court reviewed the issue of fraudulent joinder and concluded that BIF and McKesson had been fraudulently joined. Accordingly, the Court dismissed the non-diverse defendants and denied the plaintiffs' motion to remand.

B. The Plaintiffs

The caption of the complaint identifies only five plaintiffs: Thelma Butner, Clifton Fitzsimmons, John Wilchinski, George Fletcher, and Pauline Aldridge. However, the body of the complaint asserts consortium claims on behalf of four of the named plaintiffs' spouses: Jennifer Ruth Fitzsimmons, Judy Wilchinski, Charles Aldridge, and Marvin Butner. The plaintiffs and the spouses identified in the body of the complaint are citizens of Tennessee (Clifton Fitzsimmons, Jennifer Ruth Fitzsimmons, John Wilchinski, Judy Wilchinski, and George Fletcher), Louisiana (Pauline Aldridge and Charles Aldridge), and California (Thelma Butner and Marvin Butner) (Doc. 42).

The named plaintiffs are in no way connected - each received medication prescribed at different times, by different doctors, and in different locations (Doc. 40, Doc. 42). The Tennessee and Louisiana plaintiffs have no connection with California (the forum). With respect to each plaintiff, potentially relevant plaintiff-specific choice-of-law factors (e.g., where Pradaxa was prescribed and purchased, location of prescribing physician, location of injury, and location of treatment) occurred in the plaintiff's state of citizenship (Doc. 40; Doc. 42).

III. PRELIMINARY MATTERS

A. Correction of Caption

As noted above, in the body of the complaint, though not in the caption, the plaintiffs Thelma Butner, Clifton Fitzsimmons, John Wilchinski, George Fletcher, and Pauline Aldridge assert claims on behalf of their spouses. Naming a plaintiff in the body of a complaint but not in the caption violates Rule 10(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.

For the purpose of clarity, the Court is ORDERING the plaintiffs to file an amended complaint, correcting the technical errors in the caption, within 7 days of the filing of this Order.

B. Allegations as to Improper Removal

In their statement of facts, the plaintiffs state that the action was improperly removed from California State Court (Doc. 37 p. 3 n.1). This Court has already ruled on the issue of removal and fraudulent joinder. The Court found that the non-diverse defendants were fraudulently joined and concluded that removal was proper (Doc. 31).

C. Controlling Law

1. Procedural and Substantive Law

In assessing the motion to dismiss, the Court applies state substantive law and federal procedural law. See Erie R.R. Co. v. Tomplins, 304 U.S. 64, 58 S.Ct. 817, 82 L.Ed. 1188 (1938).

2. Controlling State Law

As a preliminary matter, the Court must determine which state's law applies to each plaintiff's claims.

BIPI contends the claims of (1) Clifton Fitzsimmons, Jennifer Ruth Fitzsimmons, John Wilchinski, Judy Wilchinski, and George Fletcher (the "Tennessee Plaintiffs") are governed by Tennessee law; (2) Pauline and Charles Aldridge (the "Louisiana Plaintiffs") are governed by Louisiana law; and (3) Thelma and Marvin Butner (the "California Plaintiffs") are governed by California law. BIPI's contention is based on the following: There are significant conflicts between the relevant foreign laws and the law of the forum; the Tennessee and Louisiana plaintiffs have no connection with California (the forum); and the relevant plaintiff-specific choice-of-law factors (e.g., where Pradaxa was ...


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