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Turner v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division

August 3, 2017

VICTORIA TURNER, et al., Plaintiffs,
v.
BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMACEUTICALS, INC.; BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM INTERNATIONAL GMBH; BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM ROXANE, INC.; BOEHRINGER INGELHEIM PHARMA GMBH & CO. KG; and BIDACHEM S.P.A., Defendants.

          MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

          AUDREY G. FLEISSIG UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         This matter is before the Court on Defendants' motions to dismiss the claims of 55 of the 58 Plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction, and Plaintiffs' motion to remand the action to state court. For the reasons set forth below, Defendants' motions will be granted and Plaintiffs' motion denied.

         BACKGROUND

         Three Plaintiffs who reside in Missouri (“Missouri Plaintiffs”) joined 55 Plaintiffs from other states and from Canada (“Non-Missouri Plaintiffs”) to sue Defendants Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (“BIPI”), Boehringer Ingelheim International GmbH (“BII”), Boehringer Ingelheim Roxane, Inc. (“BIR”), [1]Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. KG (“BIPG”), and Bidachem S.P.A. (“Bidachem”) in Missouri state court. Plaintiffs assert state-law tort claims, alleging that Defendants' anti-blood-clotting drug, Pradaxa, caused each Plaintiff to suffer severe injuries and/or death.

         Two of the Non-Missouri Plaintiffs are Ohio citizens, and therefore share citizenship with BIR, which is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Ohio. As to the citizenship of the remaining Defendants, BIPI is a Delaware corporation with its principal place of business in Connecticut; BII and BIPG are German corporations with their principal places of business in Germany; and Bidachem is an Italian corporation with its principal place of business in Italy.

         Plaintiffs allege that their claims “arise out of the same transaction, occurrence, or series of transactions, ” namely, Defendants' design, manufacture, marketing, advertising, distribution, promotion, labeling, testing, and selling of Pradaxa. The Non-Missouri Plaintiffs do not allege that they were prescribed Pradaxa in Missouri, ingested Pradaxa in Missouri, or were injured in Missouri. However, Plaintiffs allege that “Defendants regularly conduct or solicit business in the State of Missouri” and “derive substantial revenue from goods used or consumed in [ ] Missouri.” ECF No. 13 at 13. Plaintiffs seek compensatory damages for medical expenses, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, as well as punitive damages.

         On May 17, 2017, Defendants timely removed the action to this Court, asserting diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a). Defendants maintained that there was complete diversity among all “properly joined” parties and that the amount in controversy exceeded $75, 000. Defendants acknowledged that two Plaintiffs shared Ohio citizenship with one of the Defendants, but Defendants asked that the Court either (1) decide the issue of personal jurisdiction first, as permitted by the United States Supreme Court in Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co., 526 U.S. 574, 578 (1999), and dismiss the claims of all Non-Missouri Plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction, or (2) deem the claims of all Non-Missouri Plaintiffs fraudulently joined. Defendants argued that, in either event, the Court would be left with only the three Missouri Plaintiffs, thus satisfying the diversity of citizenship requirement. On the same day that they removed the case to this Court, Defendants also moved to dismiss the claims of the Non-Missouri Plaintiffs for lack of personal jurisdiction.

         Plaintiffs argue that the Court should consider subject-matter jurisdiction before personal jurisdiction, and Plaintiffs have moved, by separate motion, to remand the case to Missouri state court for lack of complete diversity. Plaintiffs do not dispute that Defendants have met the amount-in-controversy requirement for diversity jurisdiction under 28 U.S.C. § 1332, and the other requirements for removal under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1441 and 1446.

         DISCUSSION

         Another judge of this Court recently addressed the arguments presented by the parties here in the context of a Pradaxa case involving the same jurisdictional issues, Siegfried v. Boehringer Ingelheim Pharm., Inc., No. 4:16-CV-1942-CDP, 2017 WL 2778107 (E.D. Mo. June 27, 2017). The Court in Siegfried concluded that, although several judges in this district, including the undersigned, had previously deemed it more prudent to decide the issue of subject-matter jurisdiction first, in light of recent decisions of the United States and Missouri Supreme Courts, Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. Superior Court of California, San Francisco County, No. 16-466, 2017 WL 2621322 (U.S. June 19, 2017), and State ex rel. Norfolk Southern Railway Co. v. Dolan, 512 S.W.3d 41(Mo. 2017), the issue of personal jurisdiction “is now the more straightforward inquiry.” Siegfried, 2017 WL 2778107, at *3 (E.D. Mo. June 27, 2017). Therefore, the Siegfried Court held that ruling on personal jurisdiction before subject-matter jurisdiction would best serve the interests of judicial economy. Id. Other judges have followed suit. See, e.g., Jordan v. Bayer Corp., No. 4:17-CV-865-CEJ, 2017 WL 3006993, at *2 (E.D. Mo. July 14, 2017). The undersigned agrees that the approach taken in Siegfried, now reflects the better coarse, and will decide the issue of personal jurisdiction first.

         Personal Jurisdiction

         “To survive a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, a plaintiff must plead sufficient facts to support a reasonable inference that the defendant can be subjected to jurisdiction within the state.” Creative Calling Sols., Inc. v. LF Beauty Ltd., 799 F.3d 975, 979 (8th Cir. 2015). The facts must be viewed in the light most favorable to the plaintiffs, but the plaintiffs bear the burden of proof of establishing personal jurisdiction. Id.

         The Fourteenth Amendment limits the extent of personal jurisdiction and requires that a defendant have certain minimum contacts with the forum state, “such that maintenance of the suit does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.” J. McIntyre Mach., Ltd. v. Nicastro, 564 U.S. 873, 880 (2011) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). Personal jurisdiction can be general or specific. Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754 (2014).

         I. Genera ...


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