Yesterday afternoon, only a few minutes after we saw the storm warning and cut short our walk with the Drug and Device Law Little Rescue Dogs, a brief but violent thunderstorm crashed through our neighborhood in the western suburbs of Philadelphia. (We note, parenthetically, that the adjective “violent” describes our weather with unprecedented and escalating

Diversity jurisdiction has been on our minds a lot lately. Last week, we wrote about a plaintiff who unsuccessfully tried to steer under the $75,000 amount in controversy requirement. As John Adams said, “facts are stubborn things,” and the existence of medical bills in excess of $75,000 refuted the plaintiff’s remand motion and permitted the

This post is from the non-Reed Smith side of the blog.

Search for Medtronic on this blog and you’re going to find preemption cases. Lots of preemption cases. Mostly preemption victories for the defense. An overwhelming body of preemption law has been made by Medtronic. They’ve certainly led the charge. So, if we say today’s

The Louisiana Product Liability Act (“LPLA”) was enacted way back in 1988 – almost 30 years ago – to rein in the Louisiana courts’ product liability insanity (inanity?) epitomized by Halphen v. Johns-Manville Sales Corp., 484 So.2d 110 (La. 1986), which had allowed strict liability without defect under something called “unreasonably dangerous per se.”  

The last time we wrote about Flagg v. Stryker Corp., we thought it would be the last time we’d write about Flagg v. Stryker Corp. Pain and frustrated resignation oozed from Bexis’s keyboard as he wrote that a Fifth Circuit panel had ordered remand of the removed complaint, even though defendants had a solid basis for removal. Along with the manufacturers of the toe implant device that was the subject of the complaint, the Louisiana plaintiff had also sued his doctors for malpractice, and his doctors were also from Louisiana. The purpose, at least in part, seemed clear: to defeat diversity and keep the complaint in state court. But Louisiana law requires plaintiffs to exhaust the administrative procedures set out in the Louisiana Medical Malpractice Act (“LMMA”) before suing their doctors in court. And the plaintiff (admittedly) had not done so. So the non-diverse doctors were not proper defendants, and removal on the basis of diversity seemed appropriate. In fact, plaintiff never moved to remand, instead requesting a stay while he tried to complete the LMMA’s administrative procedures, a request that the district court denied.

On appeal, however, the Fifth Circuit panel addressed diversity jurisdiction sua sponte and held that it didn’t exist. As we discussed in our last post on this case, the panel noted that the LMMA had procedural “outs,” its administrative process wasn’t always a prerequisite to filing suit, and that it was reasonable to conclude that plaintiff could still win its medical malpractice claims even though they may have been filed early. With that, and little more, the Fifth Circuit ordered remand. As we mentioned, we thought that was the end of it.

We were wrong.


Continue Reading All Was Not Lost: Fifth Circuit Issues En Banc Decision Reversing Panel’s Earlier Remand Ruling in Flagg v. Stryker Corp.

The Twombly and Iqbal requirement that complaints set forth facts making out a plausible case for liability got a nice workout in the recent case of Guidry v. Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc., 2016 WL 633673 (E.D. Louisiana Feb. 17, 2016).  The plaintiff alleged that she suffered acute kidney failure after using a prescription drug.  The Complaint began with three causes of action under the Louisiana Products Liability Act (LPLA) for “composition or construction” defect, design defect, and failure to warn.  There were other causes of action, including negligence, strict product liability, negligent misrepresentation, fraud/deceit,  violations of Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices, breach of express warranty, and breach of implied warranties.   And, just as you will invariably find red beans on your plate in many Louisiana parishes, so you will find a “redhibition” claim in a drug/device lawsuit.

The defendant filed a motion to dismiss.  Because the LPLA provides “the exclusive theories of liability for manufacturers for damage caused by their products,”  (La. R.S. §9.2800.52) most of the causes of action in the Complaint were invalid. The plaintiff attempted to save “her extraneous theories of recovery with an appeal to New Jersey law.”  Her theory was that because the defendant’s home state was New Jersey, the laws of New Jersey must apply to her claims.  But the plaintiff was a resident of Louisiana.  Consequently (though not specified in the complaint, either through carelessness or shrewdness), the prescription drug was probably acquired in Louisiana and the alleged injury was sustained in Louisiana. Under those circumstances, the law of Louisiana,  not New Jersey, would govern the liability claims.  Bruce Springsteen must yield to Fats Domino. Therefore, the court dismissed the claims for negligence , strict product liability,  negligent misrepresentation, fraud and deceit, violations of Louisiana Unfair Trade Practices, and beach of implied warranty.  Adieu, non-LPLA claims.  (At this point, we hope we do not seem churlish by wondering whether Rule 11 should not smack down common law product liability claims in Louisiana.  The LPLA has been in force for over 25 years and its exclusivity is both express and well-settled.  And yet, plaintiffs continue to file frivolous common law claims.  OMD! – i.e., Oh mon Dieu.)


Continue Reading Cajun TwIqbal Kiss-off