Two weeks ago we reported on a case that refused to apply offensive non-mutual collateral estoppel, the doctrine that prevents a defendant from relitigating an issue that it lost in earlier litigation against a different plaintiff. Although we weren’t impressed by that decision’s analysis, its outcome was one we could endorse. Today we report on

Whaley v. Merck & Co., 2022 WL 1153151 (S.D. Cal. April 12, 2022), is an ugly example of overly grasping personal jurisdiction permitted in the service of facilitating an even worse overreach by a state’s substantive law.  We’ve repeatedly criticized the substantive theory – innovator liability – because (among other things) it exposes manufacturers to liability for claimed defects in competing generic drugs from which the defendants received no benefit (quite the opposite), and did not control what their competitors did.  Indeed, innovator liability strays so far from traditional product liability that it creates personal jurisdictional problems – since the target defendant often has no jurisdictional contacts whatever with the forum state, since it didn’t even sell the product that allegedly caused (very attenuated) harm.

Continue Reading California Court Overreaches on Personal Jurisdiction

In our experience, plaintiffs in product liability cases always seek punitive damages.  Even when their claimed injuries are quite modest or their state does not permit punitive damages, they give it a shot.  We have had cases with partial summary judgment on punitive damages, with directed verdict on punitive damages, and with jury verdicts for

California’s Proposition 65, which has spawned litigation over scientifically questionable “known to the state [of California] to cause cancer” warnings on such everyday products as cola drinks, coffee, beer, and soy sauce, see Riva v. Pepsico, Inc., 82 F. Supp.3d 1045, 1062 (N.D. Cal. 2015), took one on the chin recently in the Ninth Circuit at the hands of free speech under the First Amendment.

We can’t say it was unexpected – indeed, Prop 65 was one of the targets of the First Amendment’s prohibition on governmentally compelled speech that we identified in our 2019 post on American Beverage Ass’n v. City & County of San Francisco, 916 F.3d 749 (9th Cir. 2019) (en banc) (“ABA”).  And lo it has come to pass.

Continue Reading Ninth Circuit – First Amendment Prevails Over Prop 65

We do not care much about car racing.  Sure, we have seen some parts of some races on television, had toy racecars in our remote youth, and have craned our necks to see a few fancy “street legal” versions zooming past.  However, we have never attended a race in person and do not follow any