Supreme Court Ruling Could Make Some Class Actions More Difficult
According to a recent article in the Washington Post, the Supreme Court has made a ruling that will tighten the rules on filing class action lawsuits. The case involved a civil action brought against Bristol-Myers Squibb that was brought by hundreds of plaintiff who claim that they were damaged by a blood thinner medication called Plavix. They claim that the company misrepresented the danger of strokes for those taking the drug. The suit was filed in a court in California, which proved to be a sticking point for eight out of the nine justices.
The Supreme Court ruled that the out-of-state plaintiffs had failed to prove that a connection existed between their alleged injuries and Bristol-Myers Squibb in California, in essence dismissing almost 600 out-of-state plaintiffs who live outside the state. Eighty-nine plaintiffs who live in California remain a party to the class action.
The reasoning behind the ruling is that none of the out-of-state plaintiffs bought, ingested, or were allegedly harmed by Plavix in California. Therefore a California state court does not have jurisdiction to rule on their cases. The plaintiffs will have to sue the company in their states of residence.
Justice Sonia Sotomayor provided the sole dissent to the ruling. She suggested that the Supreme Court’s decision will make it more difficult for a nationwide class action to be put together in a particular state court. As a result, lawsuits will have to be conducted piecemeal. The ruling leaves open two questions. What kind of connection has to exist between the claim and the place the class action is filed? Can a class action be filed in a court with jurisdiction over every member of the class?
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