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Neeley v. Wyeth LLC

United States District Court, Eastern District of Missouri, Eastern Division

March 30, 2015

DESSIE NEELEY, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
WYETH LLC, et al., Defendants.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

JOHN A. ROSS JUDGE

This matter is before the Court on Defendants Barr Laboratories, Inc., Ban Pharamceuticals, LLC, Watson Pharma, Inc., and Watson Laboratories, Inc.'s (collectively, the "Generic Defendants") Motion for Reconsideration (Doc. 238). The Generic Defendants' request that the Court reconsider its ruling denying its motion to dismiss on lack of personal jurisdiction in light of the United States Supreme Court's decision in Daimler v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746 (2014). The motion is fully briefed and ready for disposition. For the following reasons, the motion will be GRANTED in part.

I. Background

On July 30, 2013, the Court entered an amended order that, in relevant part, denied the Generic Defendants' Motions to Dismiss and found the Generic Defendants' contacts with Missouri sufficient to establish general jurisdiction. In so-doing the Court relied on the following contacts, grouped by entity: (1) Watson Pharma, Inc. is a foreign corporation, registered to do business in the state of Missouri, has a designated personal agent for personal service of process within the state of Missouri, distributed metoclopramide that was manufactured by Barr Laboratories, Inc., and has twelve current or former employees who live and/or work in Missouri; (2) Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc. ("Teva"), the owner of the Barr entities and not a party to the lawsuit, is "the largest generic pharmaceutical company in the county" and it "would strain common sense to believe that Teva does not conduct substantial business and derive significant revenue in Missouri" (Doc. 211 at 12 (quoting Doc. 103 at 15)); and (3) Barr has employees who live and work in Missouri and Barr participates in the MissouriRx program ("MoRx") that provides prescription drugs to Missouri citizens. The Court determined that these contacts were sufficiently "continuous and systematic" as to render the Generic Defendants essentially "at home" in Missouri.

The Generic Defendants' now request the Court reconsider its order in light of Daimler. Specifically, relying on the Daimler case, the Generic Defendants assert that the only place general jurisdiction can be asserted over Generic Defendants is their places of incorporation and the places where their principal places of business are located.

Plaintiff, Harold Neeley, individually and on behalf of the Estate of Dessie Neeley, responds, asserting that Daimler did not alter the scope of general jurisdiction and this Court properly applied the general jurisdiction standard. Further, Plaintiffs argue that at least one of the moving defendants, Watson Laboratories, Inc., has consented to this Court's exercise of personal jurisdiction when it moved for an extension of time to file a responsive pleading in the original trial court. In the alternative, Plaintiff requests that the Court transfer the case pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a) and 28 U.S.C. § 1406(a) to the District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky.

II. Analysis

A. Standard of Review

Rule 54(b) provides that "any order or other decision, however designated, that adjudicates fewer than all the claims or the rights and liabilities of fewer than all the parties . . . may be revised at any time before the entry of a judgment adjudicating all the claims and all the parties' rights and liabilities." "It is generally held that a court may amend or reconsider any ruling under Rule 54(b) to correct any clearly or manifestly erroneous findings of facts or conclusions of law." Jones v. Casey's General Stores, 551 F.Supp.2d 848, 854 (S.D. Iowa 2008) (citation omitted). The Court may also reconsider an interlocutory order because of a controlling or significant change in the law. Trickey v. Kaman Industrial Technologies Corp., No. l:09-CV-00026-SNJ, 2011 WL 2118578, at *2 (E.D. Mo. May 26, 2011). Here the Generic Defendants point to Daimler, decided January 14, 2014, as significant change in the law.

B. General Jurisdiction and Daimler

Prior to the Supreme Court's decision in Daimler, an inquiry into whether general jurisdiction could be exercised over out-of-state corporate defendants hinged on whether the corporation's contacts were so '"continuous and systematic' as to render [it] essentially at home in the forum State." Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011) (quoting Int7 Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 317 (1945)). In Daimler, the Supreme Court explained that

Goodyear made clear that only a limited set of affiliations with a forum will render a defendant amenable to all-purpose jurisdiction there. "For an individual, the paradigm forum for the exercise is the individual's domicile; for a corporation, it is an equivalent place, one in which the corporation is fairly regarded as at home."

134 S.Ct. at 760 (quoting Goodyear, 131 S.Ct. at 2853-54) (noting that a corporation's place of incorporation and principal place of business are paradigm forums for general jurisdiction). However, in Daimler, the Supreme Court clarified that "the exercise of general jurisdiction in every State in which a corporation 'engages in a substantial, continuous, and systematic course of business would be unacceptably grasping." Daimler, 134 S.Ct. at 761 (internal citation omitted). The Supreme Court did "not foreclose the possibility that in an exceptional case a corporation's operations in a forum other than its formal place of incorporation or principal place of business may be so substantial and of such a nature to render the corporation at home in that State.'''' Id. at 761 n.19 (emphasis added). Though the Daimler decision does not "overrule[] nearly 6 decades of personal jurisdiction law" (Doc. 240 at 1), it does require a tighter assessment of the standard than perhaps was clear from Goodyear, a standard rarely addressed by the Supreme Court, such that this Court's reconsideration of its previous order is appropriate. Id. at 755 ("Our post-International Shoe opinions on general jurisdiction, by comparison, are few.")

Given this tighter framework, the Court finds that the Generic Defendants are not subject to personal jurisdiction in Missouri. None of the Generic Defendants are incorporated in Missouri, nor do they have their principal places of business here. While a corporation is not "subject to general jurisdiction only in a forum where it is incorporated or has its principal place of business, " the contacts at issue in this case clearly do ...


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