Product Identification

In drug and device litigation, product identification can be a significant issue. Many of us have poured over medical records and worked through question modules at depositions to determine whether the plaintiff actually used our client’s drug or device. Undermining product identification can be one of the quickest ways to end a lawsuit. But it doesn’t get much quicker than it happened in Weddle v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 2016 U.S. Dist. 48512 (N.D. Ill. Apr. 11, 2016). There, the plaintiff couldn’t (at least so far) get passed the pleadings.

In a variant of the old “when in doubt, pick C” approach to standardized tests, in Weddle, plaintiff went with, “when in doubt, pick them all.” Plaintiff had a Trident Hindfoot Fusion Nail system (“Trident), manufactured by Smith & Nephew, Inc., implanted in her foot. Id. at * 1-2. But other products, including nails and cement manufactured by Howmedica Osteonics Corp. and screws manufactured by DePuy Synthes Sales, Inc., were also implanted. After pain and other problems that required several more surgeries, plaintiff sued everybody. Id. at * 2. She alleged that Smith’s Trident, and/or Howmedica’s nails and cement, and/or DePuy’s screws caused her problems. Id. at * 8. In other words, she picked everybody. But, much like using your #2 pencil to fill in all the circles on a standardized test answer sheet, it didn’t work. The Court dismissed her complaint for failure to state a plausible claim. Id. at *20.


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Today is National Grammar Day. Before anyone of our posts goes online, it dashes thorough a gauntlet of reviewers.  Those reviewers collectively possess just the right amount of neurotic fastidiousness to ensure that what emerges is mostly correct and at least intermittently coherent.  Some of us pretend to actually know Strunk & White by heart.  Still, errors occasionally evade the dragnet of dorks. In honor of National Grammar Day, we have festooned today’s post with enough errors to keep all of you grammar cops busy.  We do this as a matter of principal.

But there are no errors in the case under review.  We have a rare favorable medical device decision out of the Seventh Circuit. The case is called Kallal v. Ciba Vision Corporation Inc., 2015 U.S. App. LEXIS 2987 (7th Cir. Feb. 24, 2015).  Mind you, the Seventh Circuit is one court we think the world of. Any court that is home to legal luminaries like Posner, Easterbrook, Wood, et al. must be fairy formidable.  But the Seventh Circuit is also home to the hideous Bausch precedent.  Perhaps you remember Bausch.  Its hard to forget.  The Seventh Circuit permitted a plaintiff to vaguely state a parallel claim which lacked substance under both federal and state law.  TwIqbal pleading requirements impacted the case not at all.  Irregardless of the Supreme Court’s instruction that lame cases should be dismissed before subjecting defendants’ to expensive discovery, the Bausch court elevated the plaintiff’s desire for discovery into something sacramental.

But Kallal is much better than that is. The plaintiff claimed that defective contact lenses had hurt his eyes.  The plaintiff did not have alot of evidence. The company had recalled some of it’s contact lenses.  Courageously (after Bausch) the district court held that the plaintiff’s claims were preempted nonetheless, and that the parallel claim could not save the case.  The plaintiff argued that his suite fit inside of the Riegel exception because the company failed to list ion permeability as a “material characteristic” in its premarket approval list.  The company responded that the FDA did not require them to meet any ion permeability threshold.  The plaintiff did not offer any evidence to the contrary.  In any jurisdiction but Bausch-land, that argument would win the preemption day for the defendant.  And mirabile dictum, it managed to win for the defendant in Kallal.  At least at the lower court’s level.


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Today’s post is really three different posts on three unrelated subjects.  None of them very long (at least by DDLaw Blog standards), but we think that each will be of interest to at least some our readers.

On Generic Plaintiffs’ Preemption “Win” in New Jersey

This piece is from the non-Dechert side of the blog.

Plaintiffs alleging failure to warn of the risks of a generic drug scored a “win” of sorts in In re Reglan Litigation, 2014 WL 5840281 (N.J. Super. App. Div. Nov. 12, 2014).  The court held, in an unpublished decision, that “failure-to-update” claims survived the otherwise comprehensive impossibility preemption that applies to generic drugs:

[T]he trial court correctly determined that plaintiffs’ claims based on the Generic Defendants’ failure to update their warnings to conform to changes made to the brand-name warnings are not preempted by federal law.  The court correctly found that allowing plaintiffs to assert these claims would not frustrate any of the purposes or objectives that Congress sought to achieve . . . .  Moreover, plaintiffs are not pursuing state-law claims based on an alleged violation of federal law.

Id. at *4. As the Appellate Division points out, non-preemption of “duty to update” is the majority view.

We may not like it, but we’re not losing much sleep about it.

Why?


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A recent decision in the propoxyphene litigation – Schiller v. Eli Lilly & Co., No. 2:12-247-DCR (E.D. Ky. Apr. 7, 2014) – confirms a now basic premise of product liability law: if you claim to have been injured by a drug that you don’t identify, you will lose.

The plaintiff in Schiller, a resident

Today is when we hightail our way out of work early to grab the last pumpkin pie and bottle of plonk from the shelves.  We are required to bring something to our Thanksgiving host, and apparently an appetite and ugly sweater will not suffice.  We shall certainly bring thanks to the dinner.

We have heaps

This post is from the Reed Smith side of the blog only – the Dechert lawyers were not involved.

The Iowa Court of Appeals has affirmed summary judgment entered in favor of both branded and generic manufacturers of metoclopramide, looking at Mensing’s effect on both in the process.  In Huck v. Trimark Physicians Group,

What follows is a “guest post” by Melissa Wojtylak of Reed Smith.  We place the term in quotes because Melissa has expressed an interest in becoming a member of our crew of merry blogsters.  We’re inclined to say yes (anything that reduces our own workloads is great), so expect to reading more of her work.

We (or at least Bexis) also has to say that Melissa, in addition to her other accomplishments, is also a very nice person.  We (or at least Bexis) were inclined to be quite a bit more sarcastic about the subject of this article.
As always, Melissa deserves all the credit and assumes all the blame for what follows.
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In our line of work, when you read anything that starts with the statement “[p]harmaceutical adverse effects are a leading cause of death and injury in America,” you know you’re at an away game.  This is precisely how a recent Comment in the George Mason Law Review begins.  As we noted in yesterday’s post, in the Comment, which is titled Picking Up the Tab for Your Competitors: Innovator Liability After Pliva, Inc. v. Mensing, the author waves the now-tattered banner of Conte v. Wyeth, Inc., 85 Cal. Rptr. 3d (Cal. App. 2009), and sets out his argument for why, in a post-Mensing world, brand-name manufacturers should be held liable for failure-to-warn claims brought by users of generic drugs – in essence, the holding in Conte – a holding that’s been rejected more times than a telemarketer calling during an American Idol finale.
Regular readers of this blog know how we feel about Conte.  It’s safe to say that the George Mason Law Review Comment has not changed our minds, although it has made us wonder what they’re teaching these days in torts classes at the George Mason Law School.  In any event, from our perspective, the Comment offers no compelling argument – much less legal justification – that supports a rejection of decades of established law, well-supported by practical considerations such as linking liability with responsibility, which holds that manufacturers cannot be liable for injuries to users of products that they did not sell.
As another work-week starts, we thought we’d talk about beginnings – in particular, beginnings to adversarial contests.  They almost always begin after the adversaries and the stakes have been identified.  In the NHL, for instance, the New Jersey Devils learned this weekend that they will play the Rangers in the next playoff round.  The teams

Someone (we don’t remember who) once said that the mark of a cultured person is the ability to discuss the work of Marcel Proust without ever having read a word of it. Okay, here goes.

Proust wrote A la Recherche du Temps Perdu, which properly translates into In Search of Lost Time, though