Litigation

Supreme Court Won't Take Up Egregious Fraudulent Misjoinder In Hormone Cases

WASHINGTON, D.C. - (Mealey's) The U.S. Supreme Court on Oct. 12 denied review of a circuit court ruling that 112 hormone replacement therapy (HRT) plaintiffs did not fraudulently misjoin nondiverse defendants in order to keep their cases in Minnesota state court and out of federal courts (Wyeth LLC, et al. v. Sandra Kirkland, et al., No. 10-222, U.S. Sup.).

Sandra Kirkland and the other plaintiffs sued various HRT manufacturers in Minnesota state court, alleging that the defendants failed to warn the plaintiffs that the drugs, prescribed to treat menopause symptoms and prevent osteoporosis in menopausal women, cause breast cancer.  The defendants removed the cases to the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota and they were then transferred into the Prempro multidistrict litigation in the Eastern District of Arkansas (In re:  Prempro Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 03-1507, E.D. Ark.).

MDL Judge William R. Wilson Jr. denied the plaintiffs' motion for remand.  The plaintiffs appealed, and the Eighth Circuit U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the District Court ruling and remanded the cases.

The defendants - Wyeth LLC and related entities, Barr Laboratories Inc., Mead Johnson & Co., Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp., Solvay Pharmaceuticals Inc. and Watson Laboratories Inc. - petitioned the Supreme Court for certiorari.  The petitioners said the Circuit Court erred by requiring defendants to show that misjoinder was not only just improper but egregious.

The drug manufacturers said the Eighth Circuit ruling would render fraudulent misjoinder "a virtual nullity" and said the circuit courts are split on the issue.

The plaintiffs opposed certiorari, saying that the issue is moot because the defendants did not seek a stay of the Eighth Circuit ruling and that the cases have already been remanded to Minnesota state court, leaving the Supreme Court with no jurisdiction.  The plaintiffs also said that there is no conflict among federal appeals court about the egregious requirement for fraudulent joinder.

[Editor's Note:  Full coverage will be in the Oct. 21 issue of Mealey's Emerging Drugs & Devices.  For all of your legal news needs, please visit www.lexisnexis.com/mealeys.]

For more information, call editor Tom Moylan at 610-205-1120, or e-mail him at tom.moylan@lexisnexis.com.