Plaintiffs Resist Move to Oust Non-Residents in California Plavix Cases

Plavix bleeding side effectsPlaintiffs in California litigation over deadly side effects of the anti-clotting drug Plavix called on the US Supreme Court to uphold a ruling that 592 out-of-state residents can remain as plaintiffs.

In September the California Supreme Court ruled that its state courts can take “specific jurisdiction” over mass tort claims by out-of-state plaintiffs against Bristol-Myers Squibb arising from its national marketing sales and marketing campaigns. Bristol-Myers Squibb Company v. Bracy Anderson, S221038, Super. Ct. JCCP No. 4748 (Sept. 29, 2016).

The plaintiffs, including 86 Californians, allege that the drug caused bleeding, bleeding ulcers, gastrointestinal bleeding, cerebral bleeding, rectal bleeding, heart attack, stroke, hemorrhagic stroke, subdural hematoma, thrombotic thrombocytopenic purpura, and 18 deaths. They charge that the Bristol-Myers (BMS) engaged in negligent and wrongful conduct in the design, development, manufacture, testing, packaging, promoting, marketing, distribution, labeling and sale of Plavix.

Separately, 261 Plavix lawsuits are pending in multidistrict litigation (MDL) before U.S. District Judge Freda L. Wolfson in the District of New Jersey. The United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation created the MDL on December 8, 2015.

Not merely similar

“The claims of both the residents and non-resident plaintiffs were not based on merely ‘similar’ conduct, but the exact same singular and coordinated marketing and distribution scheme,” the Plavix Brief in Opposition states in Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, No. 16-466, US Supreme Court.

From 2006-2012 BMS marketed distributed, and sold over 180 million Plavix pills to distributors and wholesalers in California alone, generating sales revenue of nearly $l billion. Although BMS marketed Plavix as “providing greater cardiovascular benefits, while being safer and easier on a person’s stomach than aspirin,” the reality was that the drug created a substantial risk of “heart attack, stroke, internal bleeding, blood disorders or death.”

The brief argues against “cleaving off one subset liability to one subset of the plaintiffs, who would be required to relitigate all the questions once again in their home states.” It adds, “all the plaintiffs’ arise out of BMS’s nationwide marketing and of Plavix.”

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