Law School Case Brief
In re Rhone-Poulenc Rorer Inc. - 51 F.3d 1293 (7th Cir. 1995)
The looming infringement of Seventh Amendment rights is only one of the grounds for believing this to be a case in which the issuance of a writ of mandamus is warranted. The others are the undue and unnecessary risk of a monumental industry-busting error in entrusting the determination of potential multibillion dollar liabilities to a single jury when the results of the previous cases indicate that the defendants' liability is doubtful at best and the questionable constitutionality of trying a diversity case under a legal standard in force in no state. We need not consider whether any of these grounds standing by itself would warrant mandamus in this case. Together they make a compelling case.
A nationwide class action was brought by Wadleigh and others on behalf of hemophiliacs infected by the AIDS virus from using certain drug products manufactured by defendant Rhone-Poulenc Rorer, Inc. Rhone-Poulenc Rorer petitioned for writ of mandamus, asking the court to direct the district judge to rescind his order certifying the class action under Fed. R. Civ. P. 23(c)(4)(A).
Were the drug manufacturers entitled to the writ of mandamus decertifying the class action?
Given the extraordinary circumstances of the case, the Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted defendants' petition for writ of mandamus and directed the district judge to decertify plaintiff class because Rhone-Poulenc Rorer properly asserted the necessary conditions for mandamus: irreparable harm, stemming from immense settlement pressure, and clear violation of rights because such plan was inconsistent with collateral estoppel principles, Seventh Amendment rights to jury trial in federal civil cases, and that it posed undue and unnecessary risk of monumental industry-busting error in entrusting potential multibillion dollar liability determination to a single jury when previous cases indicated that defendants' liability was doubtful.
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