Supreme Court limits jurisdictional reach of state courts in Plavix class action

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court says hundreds of out-state-residents can't sue drugmaker Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.in California state court over adverse reactions to the blood thinner Plavix.

1 ruling, justices say state courts can not hear claims against companies that are not based in the state when the alleged injuries did not occur there. Superior Court of California could hardly surprise anybody who noticed the court's near-unanimous ruling last month in BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, which reaffirmed the justices' commitment to the limitations on state-court jurisdiction announced a few years ago in Daimler AG v. Bauman. Under the first part of the framework, the court has permitted state courts to assert "general" jurisdiction over all claims against companies that are so pervasively active in a particular state as to make it seem reasonable to hold them accountable in that state for all of their behavior, wherever it occurs.

He added that one of the questions to come out of the case against Bristol-Myers Squibb was why there was such an "eagerness" for out of state plaintiffs to bring their claims to California courts.

Plavix wasn't developed in California, and the company did not develop a marketing strategy for it there. "It follows that the California courts can not claim specific jurisdiction".

In 2014, the Supreme Court narrowed the scope of general jurisdiction against corporate defendants, but the California court found specific jurisdiction based on Bristol's unrelated operations in its state. Companies are looking to limit plaintiff's ability to shop for courts in states with laws conducive to injury suits.

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In a dissenting opinion, Justice Sonia Sotomayor predicted that the Supreme Court's ruling will make it harder to consolidate lawsuits against corporations in state courts and lead to unfairness for individual injury plaintiffs.

In 19 business-related cases that the U.S. Chamber of Commerce participated in by filing briefs backing companies, the lobbying group was on the winning side in 13 of them, with two yet to be decided.

Justice Alito's opinion explains that the approach of the California court "is hard to square with our precedents", in large part because it "resembles a loose and spurious form of general jurisdiction". "And it will result in piecemeal litigation and the bifurcation of claims", she wrote in her dissent.

"The ruling could prove to be a powerful tool in stopping the kind of venue abuse we see all of time as personal injury lawyers try to game the system by shopping their junk lawsuits in the nation's most plaintiff friendly court jurisdiction", Akin said.

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