Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer Helps Obtain Landmark Jurisdictional Ruling in Plavix Litigation

June 19, 2017

The United States Supreme Court handed Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP's clients Bristol-Myers Squibb and Sanofi US an important victory that could change the landscape of how mass torts are litigated. In mass tort cases, plaintiffs' counsel frequently forum shop by importing plaintiffs from around the country to file claims in their favored state court jurisdictions. In Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, however, the Court's opinion issued June 19th roundly rejected Plaintiffs' attempt to bring hundreds of out-of-state plaintiffs' claims in San Francisco, holding that California did not have personal jurisdiction over the claims. 

Plaintiffs' counsel had joined 86 California residents and 592 non-residents from 33 other states to sue Bristol-Myers in California state court asserting product liability claims arising from use of the anti-platelet drug Plavix. The California Supreme Court had held that California could exercise "specific" jurisdiction over the resident and non-residents alike because Bristol-Myers did a substantial amount of business in California and marketed the drug nationwide using the same marketing materials. But in an 8-1 opinion by Justice Alito, the U.S. Supreme Court reversed, holding that the company's unrelated business dealings in California were irrelevant to specific jurisdiction and that the out-of-state plaintiffs had insufficient connection to California. 

This decision was the culmination of hard-fought litigation before the trial and California appellate courts. The Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer team was led by Anand Agneshwar and included Daniel Pariser, Jerry Falk and Sean SeLegue. Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer is national counsel for Bristol-Myers and its joint venture partner, Sanofi US, in the Plavix litigation and teamed with Hogan Lovells for the Supreme Court proceedings.

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