Our learned intermediary rule “head count” lists Oklahoma as solidly in support of the doctrine:

Oklahoma: Edwards v. Basel Pharmaceuticals, 933 P.2d 298, 300-01 (Okla. 1997); Tansy v. Dacomed Corp., 890 P.2d 881, 886 (Okla. 1994); McKee v. Moore, 648 P.2d 21, 24 (Okla. 1982); Cunningham v. Charles Pfizer & Co., 532 P.2d 1377, 1381 (Okla. 1974).

The “head count” lists every state supreme court decision to follow the learned intermediary rule, and the Oklahoma Supreme Court’s four decisions applying the doctrine are exceeded only by Ohio’s six (plus a statute) and Kansas’ five opinions.

Oklahoma courts had never applied the rule to pharmacists, however. As we’ve discussed before, the learned intermediary rule helps pharmacy defendants by precluding claims that pharmacies, as intermediate sellers of prescription drugs, should have some sort of independent duty to warn patients. Just as the rule recognizes physicians as learned intermediaries in passing along relevant warnings from prescription medical product manufacturers to their patients, learned intermediary principles also preserve the physician-patient relationship by precluding imposition of independent warning duties on other possible interlopers – such as pharmacies – who otherwise might be legally required to confuse patients by providing information that conflicts with what prescribing physicians tell their patients. Back in 2011, on occasion of the Arkansas decision Kowalski v. Rose Drugs, Inc., 378 S.W.3d 109 (Ark. 2011), we did a 50-state survey post on this issue, and Oklahoma was missing in action.

Not any longer. In Carista v. Valuck, ___ P.3d ___, 2016 WL 6237855 (Okla. App. Oct. 20, 2016), the court applied the learned intermediary rule to pharmacy-related claims in essentially the same fashion as the previous cases in our survey post. Carista involved a plaintiff (or more precisely, a plaintiff’s decedent) who took too many painkillers – it appears, from the opinion, illegally − overdosed, and then attempted to blame someone else, in this case the pharmacy where the prescriptions were allegedly filled. The case was dismissed, and the plaintiff appealed. Recognizing the issue as one of first impression, the court followed what it concluded, rightly, was the majority rule:

Many other states appear, however, to have adopted the [learned intermediary] doctrine, with limited exceptions, to shield pharmacists from being required to “second guess” a physician’s medical decisions embodied in an otherwise authorized and legally made prescription.


Continue Reading

Here’s another guest post, by Richard Dean and Peter Reed of Tucker Ellis.  They describe a successful combination (what we might call a “one-two punch” if that phrase were not already taken) of lack of personal jurisdiction under Bauman (also called Daimler) with removal, once the non-diverse (and fraudulently misjoined) plaintiffs lost their defendants.  We mentioned the state court ruling a while ago, here, but this post puts it in greater perspective. As always all credit and blame go to our guest posters.

*******************

Plaintiffs like to use multi-plaintiff filings to defeat federal diversity jurisdiction and keep cases in state court in contravention of the spirit, if not the technical language, of the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”).  That’s why a recent set of decisions from the Oklahoma state and federal courts is so heartening.  First, an Oklahoma state court properly recognized that the bright-line jurisdiction rule of Daimler AG v. Bauman, 124 S. Ct. 746 (2014), precluded the non-forum plaintiffs from obtaining jurisdiction over non-forum defendants, resulting in the dismissal of their suits.  Second, those non-forum plaintiffs were the only non-diverse parties, so dismissal of their suits presented a second opportunity for defendants to remove the remaining cases to federal court.  Third, a federal court held that the subsequent removal was not barred by the infamous voluntary-involuntary dismissal rule, which is often used to send “other paper” removals back to state court.  See Kathleen Teague v. Johnson & Johnson, et al., No. Civ-14-702-L, slip op. (W.D. Okla. Oct. 14, 2014).

This saga began with 11 filings with under 100 plaintiffs each (approximately 650 total) in a single-judge state county court in Oklahoma.  In each of the 11 cases, only one or two plaintiffs were from Oklahoma and all the other plaintiffs were from out of state (including one or two jurisdictional spoilers).  Defendants removed under principles of fraudulent misjoinder and CAFA.  They lost.  The District Court remanded the case, see Halliburton v. Johnson & Johnson, 983 F. Supp.2d 1355 (W.D. Okla. 2013), and the Tenth Circuit affirmed that decision, see Parson v. Johnson & Johnson, 749 F.3d 879 (10th Cir. 2014).  Defendants argued that filing several hundred cases before a single state court judge constituted an implicit proposal for a joint trial under CAFA, but the Tenth Circuit held that the statute’s technical language required a more express statement of any such request from plaintiffs.


Continue Reading

Here’s another guest post, this time by Vani Singhal and Jason McVicker of McAfee Taft.  It’s about tort reform, Sooner style.  As always, our guest correspondents get all the credit (or blame, as the case may be).

**************

Oklahoma has enacted a new law relating to evidence in product liability cases.  It is effective on November 1, 2014 (for new cases, its application to existing cases will probably be litigated).  The short version is as follows: In a formulation/labeling/design case, if a manufacturer or seller can prove compliance with federal safety standards, it triggers a rebuttable presumption the manufacturer or seller is not liable for injury arising out of the formulation/labeling/design.  The presumption can be rebutted only if the plaintiff demonstrates the federal regulations were inadequate or the manufacturer withheld or misrepresented facts relevant to the federal determination.

Alternatively, if a manufacturer or seller can prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that the product was subject to premarket licensing or approval by the federal government, that it complied with the licensing or approval process, and that it was licensed or approved, it triggers a rebuttable presumption that the manufacturer or seller is not liable for any injury to a claimant arising out of the formulation/labeling/design.  The presumption can be rebutted only if the plaintiff demonstrates the standards were inadequate or that the manufacturer withheld or misrepresented facts relevant to the process if causally related to the plaintiff’s injuries.


Continue Reading

As one of our other bloggers have recently revealed, Bexis recently went on vacation for two weeks.  He was diligent, however, and pre-wrote two posts (not time sensitive) that appeared in his absence.  As for the co-blogger’s quip about Bexis’ “active, muscular vacations” well, in this instance that’s probably right.  For most of Bexis’ two-week absence, he was rafting through the Grand Canyon.

With Bexis otherwise occupied, the blog’s other denizens did an admirable job of keeping up with current developments in case law, but nonetheless items piled up in Bexis’ inbox awaiting his return.  Most of them weren’t even judicial opinions.  It’s time to empty that inbox.

Perhaps the most important development was the approval, on May 29, by the full Federal Judicial Conference’s Standing Committee on Rules of Practice and Procedure, of the discovery-related rules changes that we’ve been covering on the blog.  Bexis has been heavily involved in this effort through the Lawyers for Civil Justice (“LCJ”), and LCJ sent him notice of the approval. We’d pass it along, except it includes internal LCJ business as well.  So we’ll just hit the highlights.

First, there were no changes to the language of the proposed amendments themselves, which we have previously discussed.  The only changes from the version published in the subcommittee’s agenda book were:  (1) a new sentence in Note for Rule 26(b)(1) encouraging computer search technology (that is to say, predictive coding), and (2) modifying the Note for Rule 37(e) concerning the role of prejudice in subsection (e)(2).  Thus, the main benefits of the amendments from our perspective remain:

  • enshrinement of proportionality in Rule 26(b)(1);
  • curtailment of the capacious “reasonably calculated” standard for the scope of discovery in the same subsection;
  • Explicit rejection of the negligence-based standard for ediscovery sanctions in Residential Funding Corp. v. DeGeorge Financial Corp., 306 F.3d 99 (2d Cir. 2002), and thus by necessary implication of other precedent in that circuit following that standard (this means you, Zubulake); and
  • Requiring a finding of specific “intent to deprive another party of the information’s use in the litigation,” under Rule 37(e)(2) before any federal jury can be instructed on evidentiary presumptions from loss of electronic information.


Continue Reading

About a year ago, we discussed precedent establishing that off-label use can be, and often is, the medical standard of care.  Conversely, that means that it could be considered medical malpractice not to prescribe certain off-label therapies.  All of a sudden, that issue has popped up again, with two cases in the last week, both dealing with the off-label use of drugs in the abortion context.

We stay away from politics on this blog – whether it’s the merits of Obamacare or the merits of  legal restrictions on medical abortion. But where legal questions associated with this sort of controversial issue impact matters relevant to drug/device defense, we will cautiously venture into such territory, as we did here (ACA could render medical monitoring cause of action unnecessary) and here (FDCA preemption in abortion litigation context).  This time, it’s off-label use.
We’ll polish off the lesser of the two off-label use decisions quickly.  In Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas Surgical Health Services v. Abbott, ___ F. Supp.2d ___, 2013 WL 5781583 (W.D. Tex. Oct. 28, 2013) (“Abbott”), stay granted in part on other grounds, ___ F.3d ___, 2013 WL 5857853 (5th Cir. Oct.  31, 2013), an “off-label protocol” for terminating pregnancy using drugs rather than surgery was, as with the other off-label uses we discussed in our earlier post, determined to be the medical standard of care, and conversely, the FDA-approved intended use of the same key drug (mifepristone, also known as RU-486) was obsolete.  As the court stated:

Abortion-performing physicians have since developed a medication-abortion protocol using mifepristone that, although varying significantly from the FDA protocol, has become the de facto standard of care in Texas.  This protocol, or one substantially identical, accounts for the vast majority of medication abortions performed nationwide since 2007.  The new protocol [is] endorsed by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Id. at *7 (footnote omitted).  We omitted a footnote.  We now add it back in, because it is more relevant to our product liability defense-related concerns than most of the opinion:


Continue Reading