In a recent 8-1 decision, Supreme Court justices set a dangerous precedent that holds severe implications for injured victims. In a lawsuit against Bristol-Meyers Squibb, out-of-state victims are being denied a chance to sue the corporation alongside in-state victims, despite both groups of victims exhibiting identical side effects.
Bristol-Meyers Squibb is a global pharmaceutical corporation that, among many things, produces the blood thinner Plavix. Plavix was found to have damaging side effects ranging from nosebleeds to strokes and heart attacks. As a result, Plavix users who experienced these effects took legal action against Bristol-Meyers Squibb. The lawsuit originated in California, with 86 California residents suing. Later, the California victims would be joined in their lawsuit by 575 non-resident victims who experienced identical symptoms as a result of taking Plavix. Together, the victims filed a product liability lawsuit against Bristol-Meyers seeking compensation for their injuries.
However, Bristol-Meyers Squibb argued against allowing non-resident victims to join the California lawsuit. The company stated that since the victims did not ingest, buy, or suffer any injuries in the state of California, they should not be allowed to sue in California state courts. The Supreme Court ultimately sided with Bristol-Meyers Squibb on this point. The Supreme Court also pointed out that California state courts did not sufficiently establish a link between the claims against the pharmaceutical company and the ties of the company to the state.
Furthermore, this ruling blatantly hinders the ability of victims to sue in a single consolidated action. In his opinion of the court, Justice Alito affirmed the idea that legal action cannot be brought about in a state in which only some plaintiffs were injured. The consequences of this decision will make it difficult for victims to take mass action against corporations based in separate states. For instance, what will happen when a corporation is headquartered and incorporated in different states? This decision essentially makes litigation a more complex process for the victims, while providing corporations with a tool to avoid lawsuits. Best summarized by Justice Sotomayor, this ruling “curtails” the plaintiffs’ ability to hold corporations accountable.”
The right to take legal action is the basis of change and fundamental to our society. If you or a loved one believe you were injured as a result of unreported side effects of a pharmaceutical drug, it is advised you seek out an attorney who can help you obtain proper compensation for the damages you’ve experienced. For immediate help, contact a New York injury attorney at our office.
Author: Giselle Cornejo