We’ve seen it before. The Southern District of Illinois will certify class actions with no real cause of action and no real damages. While not as bad as the drive-through-class-certification state courts in southern Illinois, the nearby federal court will also perform doctrinal somersaults to benefit the local plaintiffs’ bar. With both the lower state and federal courts in that otherwise lovely corner of the Midwest, an out of state corporate defendant must tough out absurd hijinks, then cross its corporate fingers and seek relief from the (usually) more rational appellate courts. The Seventh Circuit, in particular, makes a full-time job out of spotting and reversing errors.
That not only happened in Eike v. Allergan, Inc., 2017 WL 881834 (7th Cir. March 6, 2017), it happened courtesy of the pen of Judge Richard Posner. In nine short paragraphs, with his typical absence of footnotes, Judge Posner exposes the purported class actions for the exercises in silliness they were. So devastating is the reversal, so sharp is his prose, that Judge Posner’s miniature masterpiece must be viewed as a judicial thumb in the eye of the lower court. The Seventh Circuit not only reversed the district court’s certification of the classes, it also ordered the case dismissed with prejudice for lack of standing.
Illinois calls itself the Land of Lincoln. Lincoln said a lot of famous things. One was, “Never stir up litigation. A worse man can scarcely be found than one who does this.” Imagine what Lincoln would have said if he had a look at a claim as batty as the one in Eike. The plaintiffs sued pharmaceutical manufacturers of eye drops used for the treatment of glaucoma because the drops were bigger than they needed to be. The theory is that the plaintiffs were paying more than they would have if the drops were smaller. The plaintiffs alleged no conspiracy among the defendants. This was not an antitrust case. (Woe unto the plaintiffs if it were, and then they drew Judge Posner on the panel!) Nor did the plaintiffs allege any misrepresentations. Rather, the plaintiffs simply sought, because they thought it would be less expensive, a smaller dose product that nobody made.