We don’t often write about statutes of limitations because the cases tend to be fact bound and not all that illuminating on larger points of law and/or practice. However, a case in California struck a chord with us recently because it highlights a point that we think every litigator should understand: Tolling agreements should not
Not long ago we published, as a guest post, a 50-state survey of state tolling statutes that governed whether, and under what circumstances, actions dismissed on a non-merits basis could be refiled notwithstanding the running of the applicable statute of limitations in the interim.
Bexis had never really thought much about these kinds of statutes…
Today’s guest post was is a group effort of Betsy Chance, Diana Comes, and Mac Plosser, all at the Butler Snow firm. A little while ago they circulated (we don’t remember exactly how) an earlier version of a 50-state survey they had put together on state tolling statutes that preserve lawsuits that…
We’ve always been against the concept of class action tolling: that merely by filing a class action – the class action does not have to have any merit – a class action lawyer magically stops the running of the statute of limitations for everybody in the class. To us, this gives Fed. R. Civ. P.…
Most of the time we do not linger on cases that turn on the statute of limitations. They are often fact-specific to the point of dreariness. In addition, from a doctrinal perspective, there isn’t much new under the Sun when it comes to a SOL analysis. But the SOL discussion in Hendrix v. Novartis Pharmaceutical Corp., 2013 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14936 (C.D. Cal. Oct. 2, 2013), is so comprehensive and cogent that it merits a look, a post, and a new entry on our cross-jurisdictional tolling scorecard.
Hendrix is yet another Aredia-Zometa case. As we said last week, we are becoming a scrivener for the ongoing A-Z saga. As with all A-Z cases, the plaintiff ingested Aredia or Zometa as part of cancer treatment and claimed to have suffered osteonecrosis of the jaw (ONJ) as a result. Also, because there is an A-Z MDL, the filing/forum history of the case is something of an adventure. The plaintiff filed his Complaint in the Eastern District of New York on January 17, 2006. The case was consolidated in 2007 into the MDL in the Middle District of Tennessee. The defendant filed its SOL motion, but before it could be heard by the MDL court, the case was remanded back to EDNY. Then the parties moved to transfer the case to C.D. Cal. If the case could acquire frequent flyer miles, it would have earned enough to … ah, who are we kidding? With all the restrictions on frequent flyer awards, the case wouldn’t be able to get a free flight anywhere. It wouldn’t even get free WiFi or a do-it-yourself Bloody Mary.
It makes sense for Hendrix to end up in C.D. Cal., because the treatment and alleged injury took place in California and California law applies. Under California law, personal injury actions are subject to a two year limitation. Thus, the issue is whether the cause of action accrued before January 17, 2004. If it did, the SOL means that the plaintiff is SOL. To avoid that result, the plaintiff assembled the usual suspects when it comes to SOL: (1) the defendant waited too long to raise the issue (almost as if there is an SOL to SOL defenses); (2) the “discovery” rules saves the day for the plaintiff; (3) cross-jurisdictional tolling saves the day, because somebody somewhere filed a baseless class action that somehow made everybody else freeze up; and (4) equitable tolling is necessary, because … because it would be “equitable.” Let’s face it, the word “equitable” too often is the last refuge for litigants with shoddy arguments. We are happy to report that none of those arguments worked.…
We appreciate being on Joe Hollingsworth’s mailing list – we really do. Much of the Aredia/Zometa stuff he sends us is manifestly blogworthy. That, and all things being equal, we’d rather discuss a defense win than a defense loss. Joe doesn’t send us his bad ones (although certain plaintiff lawyers do pass…
The big developments – the Caronia opinion, and the Supreme Court’s grant of certiorari in Bartlett – along with other distractions, such as our ABA Blawg 100 award, have left us with a pile of unblogged stuff that we think is of interest to our readers.
Today we’re taking a crack at that pile. We apologize in advance if these discussions aren’t as detailed (and thus aren’t as useful) as our usual posts.
California Leans Daubert
California has long gone its merry, idiosyncratic way in the Daubert/Frye wars. The California Supreme Court has fashioned something called “Kelly/Leahy”
after the names of the two most important opinions. However, in Sargon Enterprises, Inc. v. University of Southern California, ___ P.3d ___, 2012 WL 5897314 (Cal. Nov. 26, 2012), the court spoke about California expert admissibility with a distinct Daubert accent. Sargon (great name – it evokes space aliens, unknown elements, or even ancient Sumer) is a drug/medical device case only in the loosest sense. It’s about an alleged “breach of a contract
for the [defendant] to clinically test a new implant the [plaintiff] had patented.” Id. at *1. The expert testimony at issue involved lost profits. Id. at *2. The testimony was vague and tautological, involving the expert’s supposition that the defendant, because it was “innovative,” would have joined the “big six” dental implant manufacturers. But he measured “innovation” according to “the proof is in the pudding” – successful companies were “innovative,” less successful ones less so. Why was the plaintiff company “innovative” even though it was small? That opinion was a bunch of gobbledygook and jargon amounting to “because I think so.” See Id. at *3-5. The trial court threw the expert out. The Court of Appeals reversed and found the testimony admissible, then the
California Supreme Court granted review.
This blog doesn’t care all that much about the ins and outs of calculating lost profits, but we do care about the standards for expert admissibility. Sargon is
noteworthy for the court’s repeated reliance on the federal precedent that we have (usually) come to know and love, starting with “[u]nder California law,
trial courts have a substantial ‘gatekeeping’ responsibility.” Sargon, 2012 WL 5897314, at *14 (footnote citing Joiner and Kuhmo Tire omitted). That leads to “[e]xclusion of expert opinions that rest on guess, surmise or conjecture is an inherent corollary to the foundational predicate for admission of the expert testimony.” Id.
Class Action Tolling scorecard on a daily basis, then you already know
that the Louisiana Supreme Court recently skewered cross-jurisdictional tolling. They beat it with a red stick. But let’s assume for a moment that you have a life. So
blenderize a Hurricane, fry up some bacon-wrapped
Yeah, we know that Joe Hollingsworth − among his many other talents − likes to publicize his wins (who doesn’t, we plead guilty). But that’s okay. When he sends us stuff from the Aredia/Zometa wars that’s worth publicizing, we’ll use it; otherwise, we blog about something else. It just so happens that the latest items…
Over a decade ago, Bexis convinced the Fourth Circuit to predict that Virginia would reject cross-jurisdictional class action tolling – the notion that a meritless class action filed in one jurisdiction could suspend the running of the statute of limitations in another jurisdiction. See Wade v. Danek Medical, Inc., 182 F.3d 281 (4th Cir.1999). But what was won in Wade had a hard time staying won. Some federal courts, deviating from their federalist duty to construe state law conservatively, nonetheless made conflicting predictions that, maybe Virginia law (despite not recognizing class actions at all) would allow cross-jurisdictional tolling. See Torkie-Tork v. Wyeth, 739 F. Supp.2d 887 (E.D. Va. 2010); Shimari v. CACI International, Inc., 2008 WL 7348184 (E.D. Va. Nov. 25, 2008).
But not all courts. In In re Fosamax Products Liability Litigation, 694 F. Supp.2d 253 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), the court followed Wade in another multidistrict litigation (Wade had followed an MDL remand). The plaintiffs appealed, and the Second Circuit certified the question to the Virginia Supreme Court, which accepted the appeal.
Virginia’s highest court has now killed cross-jurisdictional class action tolling dead in that jurisdiction. Casey v. Merck & Co., No. 111438, slip op. (Va. Mar. 2, 2012). Good riddance, we say. It was a long enough time coming – as was the underlying Fosamax class action decision. The plaintiffs wanted over two years of tolling – just for filing a meritless complaint – because it took various courts (it was an MDL, after all) from September 15, 2005 until January 28, 2008 to dismiss the patently bogus personal injury class action.