SAN FRANCISCO — On the day before Donald Trump was sworn in as the
45th president, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed
to hear an appeal concerning jurisdiction involving Bristol Myers
Squibb and its blood-thinning medication Plavix.
The appeal centers around a California Supreme Court decision that
allows state courts to hear arguments about Plavix even though some
of the plaintiffs live in California and the company is based in New
The two sides are fighting over where the lawsuits should be
filed. Typically, companies can be sued in states where they are
located in or where they have significant ties.
In August 2016, according to SFGate.com,
the California Supreme Court ruled
it could hear the Plavix case because BMS sold nearly a billion
dollars of the drug, and it also conducted an advertising and
marketing campaign on a national scale.
BMS lawyers, meanwhile, claim the California ruling allows
plaintiffs to file suits in states that have more-favorable laws and
not in states where they are headquartered.
There were eight suits filed against BMS in 2012, involving 84
California residents and 575 nonresidents, according to Law360.com.
They allege after taking Plavix, that increased their risk of having
a stroke, suffering a heart attack or bleeding internally.
The court has not heard the case yet, and Trump has nominated Neil
Gorsuch, a conservative judge, to the bench. His confirmation
hearings are scheduled to begin later this month.
In an article posted on MassTortNexis.com,
senior consultant Mark A. York weighed in on the U.S. Supreme Court
before the Gorsuch nomination and how he thought they would rule in
this jurisdictional case.
“Chief Justice Roberts has leaned left in high-profile rulings
and away from his original conservative view the last two years and
kept things in line,” York said. “Roberts may continue that path
and it will be a 5-3 ruling for the plaintiffs. But even if he goes
right and there’s a 4-4 split, if it’s prior to Trump’s pick
for a new justice, the California court ruling stands, and BMS is out
until the next chance comes in another case.
“This may be a moral-compass decision for Roberts at this point
and a view down the road of what’s coming even if there is a
conservative Trump appointee. If Trump successfully appoints a
justice who pulls the straight conservative line and Roberts goes
right, then nonresident Plavix cases are done in California.’’