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Allen v. Bayer Corp. (In re : Phenylpropanolamine (PPA) Prods. Liab. Litig.)

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit

February 7, 2006 and 8, 2006 1, Argued and Submitted, Seattle, Washington ; August 29, 2006, Filed

No. 04-35370, No. 04-35562, No. 04-35588, No. 04-35611, No. 04-35614, No. 04-35621, No. 04-35884, No. 04-36137, No. 05-35105, No. 05-35121, No. 05-35129, No. 05-35147, No. 05-35184

Opinion

 [*1222]  RYMER, Circuit Judge:

These appeals are from judgments of dismissal entered in a multidistrict litigation (MDL) proceeding for failure to comply with case management orders. The orders were entered with the agreement of all sides that they were necessary to move hundreds of cases and thousands of plaintiffs toward resolution [**4]  on the merits. The district court found that many plaintiffs inexcusably failed to do what was required, and dismissed their actions. Some appeal. We must decide whether these dismissals were a clear error of judgment.

The principles that guide a court's discretion to dismiss are well settled, but we have never addressed how they play out in the context of multidistrict litigation. We conclude that while the rules are the same as for ordinary litigation on an ordinary docket -- that is, a court determining whether to dismiss an action on account of a plaintiff's noncompliance with a court order must weigh the public's interest in expeditious resolution of litigation; the court's need to manage its docket; the risk of prejudice to the defendants; the public policy favoring the disposition of cases on their merits; and the availability of less drastic sanctions -- multidistrict litigation is different because of the large number of cases that must be coordinated, its greater complexity, and the court's statutory charge to promote the just and efficient conduct of the actions. 28 U.S.C. § 1407. As a result, the considerations that inform the exercise of discretion [**5]  in multidistrict litigation may be somewhat different, and may tip the balance somewhat differently, from ordinary litigation on an ordinary docket.

Recognizing this, we cannot say that the district court abused its discretion in dismissing the cases before us, except for McGriggs and Sasseen, as to which we reverse. 4 

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460 F.3d 1217 *; 2006 U.S. App. LEXIS 22155 **

In re: PHENYLPROPANOLAMINE (PPA) PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION,2 SHANTELL ALLEN, on behalf of Allen, Vera, et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BAYER CORPORATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees. LEON ANDERSON, JR., et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BAYER CORPORATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees. LESLIE ACKEL, et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BAYER CORPORATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees. BRIDGETT ARRINGTON, et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BAYER CORPORATION, et al., Defendants-Appellees. CALVIN MCGRIGGS, et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. DELACO COMPANY, et al., Defendants-Appellees. BETTY CLINTON, et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. DELACO COMPANY, et al., Defendants-Appellees. DONNA SASSEEN, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. IDE INTERSTATE INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees. ELIZABETH PAGE, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. BAYER CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee. MARIE RILEY, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. WYETH, obo itself and its unincorporated division, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, fka Whitehall-Robins Healthcare formerly known as American Home Products Corporation, et al., Defendants-Appellees. KEVA K. ALFORD, on behalf of all wrongful death beneficiaries of Henry Dexter, et al.,* Plaintiffs-Appellants, and EDDIE BULLOCK, et al., Plaintiffs, v. WYETH, obo itself and its unincorporated division, Wyeth Consumer Healthcare, fka Whitehall-Robins Healthcare formerly known as American Home Products Corporation, et al., Defendants-Appellees, and NOVARTIS PHARMACEUTICALS CORPORATION, et al., Defendants. BOBBY HOLMES, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BAYER CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee. MELODY MCDANIEL, Plaintiff-Appellant, v. WAL-MART STORES, INC., et al., Defendants-Appellees. SAMANTHA SAMUELS, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellants, v. BAYER CORPORATION, Defendant-Appellee.

Subsequent History: Summary judgment granted by, Dismissed by In re : Phenylpropanolamine Prods. Liab. Litig., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 82102 (W.D. Wash., Nov. 9, 2006)

Prior History:  [**1]  Appeals from the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. D.C. No. MD-01-01407-BJR *, D.C. No. MD-01-01407-BJR *, D.C. No. MD-01-01407-BJR *, D.C. No. MD-01-01407-BJR *, D.C. No. CV-03-03428-BJR *, D.C. No. MD-01-01407- BJR *, D.C. No. CV-03-03279-BJR, D.C. No. CV-03-01343-BJR, D.C. No. CV-03-02073-BJR, D.C. No. CV-04-00399-BJR *, D.C. No. CV-01- 02061-BJR, D.C. No. CV-03-03226-BJR, D.C. No. CV-01-02059-BJR. Barbara Jacobs Rothstein, District Judge, Presiding.

In re Phenylpropanolamine Prods. Liab. Litig., 2006 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 51756 (W.D. Wash., July 28, 2006)

CORE TERMS

cases, district court, MDL, discovery, warning, failure to comply, complaints, orders, plaintiffs', fact sheet, merits, factors, parties, severed, sanctions, multidistrict litigation, pretrial, products, ingested, noncompliance, defendants', compliance, PPA, case management, court order, Affirmation, transferred, deadline, motion to dismiss, authorizations

Civil Procedure, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Dismissal, Involuntary Dismissals, Failure to Comply, General Overview, Pretrial Matters, Conferences, Case Management, Judicial Officers, Judges, Discretionary Powers, Pretrial Orders, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Misconduct During Discovery, Failure to Prosecute, Evidence, Inferences & Presumptions, Presumptions, Presumptions, Rebuttal of Presumptions, Preliminary Considerations, Venue, Multidistrict Litigation