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United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit
March 30, 1989
[*787] REAVLEY, Circuit Judge:
This case involves the claims of 126 plaintiffs against Monsanto Company, alleging liability for physical injuries resulting from exposure to polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), a product formerly manufactured by Monsanto. A bellwether trial with eight plaintiffs was held and the jury rendered a verdict in favor of Monsanto. Upon consideration of posttrial motions from all parties, the district court entered orders granting a new trial for the eight plaintiffs and then dismissing the causes of action of all plaintiffs for lack of jurisdiction. Monsanto asks that both orders be reversed and seeks judgment on the jury verdict. We vacate the district court's orders and remand for [**2] disposition consistent with this opinion.
This product liability action was originally filed in November 1984 by a single plaintiff against General Electric. The fifth amended complaint presented the final form of this litigation with the claims of 126 plaintiffs against a single defendant, Monsanto Company. Federal court jurisdiction [*788] was based on diversity of citizenship. The plaintiffs are residents of Alabama, Indiana, Tennessee, and Texas. Monsanto is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Missouri.
The district court, Eastern District of Texas, denied Monsanto's pretrial motion to sever and transfer the plaintiffs' claims. Because a single trial was deemed too burdensome, the district court ordered ten plaintiffs be selected for a "bellwether" trial. See Manual for Complex Litigation 2d, § 33.26 (1985). Eight plaintiffs eventually participated in the trial at issue in this appeal. This group of plaintiffs includes the only resident of the Eastern District of Texas who is party to the action.
The trial lasted over two weeks and featured the testimony of over 60 witnesses. The evidence centered primarily on the nature of the plaintiffs' exposure [**3] to PCBs and the causal relationship between PCBs and the plaintiffs' ailments. Issues of strict liability and negligence were submitted to the jury. After an hour and fifteen minute's deliberation, the jury returned a verdict in favor of Monsanto on all claims of the eight trial plaintiffs.
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868 F.2d 786 *; 1989 U.S. App. LEXIS 4048 **; 13 Fed. R. Serv. 3d (Callaghan) 650
Cecil SCOTT, et al., Plaintiffs-Appellees, Cross-Appellants, v. MONSANTO COMPANY, et al., Defendants-Appellants, Cross-Appellees
Subsequent History: As Corrected; Rehearing Denied April 27, 1989.
Prior History: [**1] Appeals from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.
district court, new trial, plaintiffs', witnesses, jury verdict, discovery, protective order, exposure, lack of jurisdiction, proceedings, occurrence, sanctions, disease, great weight, trial court, causation, chloracne, ailments, pretrial, trial plaintiff, choice of law, effects, motions, untried, orders, vacate, liver, sever
Civil Procedure, Venue, Federal Venue Transfers, Convenience Transfers, Preliminary Considerations, General Overview, Improper Venue Transfers, Forum Non Conveniens, Trials, Judgment as Matter of Law, Judgments, Relief From Judgments, Motions for New Trials, Appeals, Standards of Review, Abuse of Discretion, Harmless & Invited Errors, Prejudicial Errors, Evidence, Weight & Sufficiency, Jury Trials, Right to Jury Trial, Criminal Law & Procedure, Juries & Jurors, Province of Court & Jury, Weight of Evidence, Closing Arguments, Evidence Not Admitted, Inflammatory Statements, Discovery & Disclosure, Discovery, Protective Orders, Misconduct During Discovery