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Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court

Supreme Court of the United States

April 25, 2017, Argued; June 19, 2017, Decided

No. 16-466.

Opinion

Justice Alito delivered the opinion of the Court.

More [***6]  than 600 plaintiffs, most of whom are not California residents, filed this civil action in a California state court against Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (BMS), asserting a variety of state-law claims based on injuries allegedly caused by a BMS drug called Plavix. The California Supreme Court held that the California courts have specific jurisdiction to entertain the nonresidents’ claims. We now reverse.

BMS, a large pharmaceutical company, is incorporated in Delaware and headquartered in New York, and it maintains substantial  [*1778]  operations in both New York and New Jersey. 1 Cal. 5th 783, 790,  [**401]  377 P. 3d 874, 879 (2016). Over 50 percent of BMS’s work force in the United States is employed in those two States. Ibid.

BMS also engages in business activities in other jurisdictions, including California. Five of the company’s research and laboratory facilities, which employ a total of around 160 employees, are located there. Ibid. BMS also employs about 250 sales representatives in California and maintains a small state-government advocacy office in Sacramento. Ibid.

One of the pharmaceuticals that BMS manufactures and sells is Plavix, a prescription drug that thins the blood and inhibits blood clotting. BMS did not develop Plavix in California, did not create a [***7]  marketing strategy for Plavix in California, and did not manufacture, label, package, or work on the regulatory approval of the product in California. Ibid. BMS instead engaged in all of these activities in either New York or New Jersey. Ibid. But BMS does sell Plavix in California. Between 2006 and 2012, it sold almost 187 million Plavix pills in the State and took in more than $900 million from those sales. 1 Cal. 5th, at 790-791, 377 P. 3d, at 879. This amounts to a little over one percent of the company’s nationwide sales revenue. Id., at 790, 377 P. 3d, at 879.

A group of plaintiffs—consisting of 86 California residents and 592 residents from 33 other States—filed eight separate complaints in California Superior Court, alleging that Plavix had damaged their health. Id., at 789, 377 P. 3d, at 878. All the complaints asserted 13 claims under California law, including products liability, negligent misrepresentation, and misleading advertising claims. Ibid. The nonresident plaintiffs did not allege that they obtained Plavix through California physicians or from any other California source; nor did they claim that they were injured by Plavix or were treated for their injuries in California.

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137 S. Ct. 1773 *; 198 L. Ed. 2d 395 **; 2017 U.S. LEXIS 3873 ***; 85 U.S.L.W. 4400; CCH Prod. Liab. Rep. P20,088; 26 Fla. L. Weekly Fed. S 671; 2017 WL 2621322

BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB COMPANY, Petitioner v. SUPERIOR COURT OF CALIFORNIA, SAN FRANCISCO COUNTY, et al.

Notice: The LEXIS pagination of this document is subject to change pending release of the final published version.

Prior History:  [***1] ON WRIT OF CERTIORARI TO THE SUPREME COURT OF CALIFORNIA

Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court, 1 Cal. 5th 783, 206 Cal. Rptr. 3d 636, 377 P.3d 874, 2016 Cal. LEXIS 7124 (Aug. 29, 2016)

Disposition: Reversed and remanded.

CORE TERMS

nonresidents’, residents, nationwide, general jurisdiction, personal jurisdiction, forum state, state court, courts, World-Wide, contacts, purposefully, quotation, cases, marks, course of conduct, magazine, class member, consolidated, out-of-state, advertising, parties, sales, exercise of jurisdiction, headquartered, limitations, convenient, marketing, availed, suits

Civil Procedure, Jurisdiction, In Rem & Personal Jurisdiction, Constitutional Limits, In Personam Actions, Due Process, In Personam Actions, Minimum Contacts