An issue of material fact exists if the competent evidence presented by the non-moving party is sufficient to permit a rational fact-finder to resolve the alleged dispute in favor of that party. In a summary judgment motion, a court must grant all the favorable inferences to the non-movant. The court must inquire whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to the fact-finder or whether it is so one-sided that defendant must prevail as a matter of law.
A drug manufacturer filed a motion for summary judgment with the Superior Court of New Jersey in the products liability action filed against it over an implantable contraceptive device, based on the learned intermediary doctrine five bellwether plaintiffs were chosen to challenge defendant drug manufacturer's summary judgment motion based on the learned intermediary doctrine.
Should the motion for summary judgment be granted?
The court noted that the New Jersey Products Liability Act, N.J. Stat. Ann. § 2A:58C-4, imposed a duty to warn which was satisfied with a warning to the prescribing physician and was essentially the same as the learned intermediary doctrine. The court noted that the only nationally recognized exception, settings in which there was no physician intermediary, did not apply, and that only one state had adopted an exception for contraceptives. The court declined to follow that state or to adopt an exception for manufacturers who advertised to the general public, as neither advertising nor a patient's input in the decision to use a particular drug diminished the physician's role. The court held that it was concerned with the warning's effect on the physician, and that plaintiffs presented no expert testimony rebutting the prescribing physicians' testimony that they considered the warnings sufficient.