United States District Court, E.D. Missouri, Eastern Division
DARREN CARTWRIGHT, Individually and on Behalf of the Estate of Patricia Cartwright, Deceased, et al., Plaintiffs,
JOHNSON & JOHNSON, et al, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
L. WHITE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
product liability matter is before the Court on numerous
motions filed by the parties: a Motion to Stay all
Proceedings by defendants Johnson & Johnson and Johnson
& Johnson Consumer Inc. [ECF No. 4]; a Motion to Remand
filed by Plaintiffs and a Motion to Expedite Ruling on Motion
to Remand [ECF Nos. 11, 13]; a Motion to Dismiss Case and a
Motion to Sever Claims and Transfer for Improper Venue filed
by defendant PTI Union, LLC [ECF Nos. 25, 34]; a Motion to
Dismiss for Lack of Jurisdiction filed by defendant PTI
Royston, LLC [ECF No. 31]; a Motion for an Extension of Time
and a Motion for Hearing filed by Plaintiffs [ECF Nos. 36,
37]; a Motion for Joinder in Opposition to Plaintiffs Motions
filed by PTI Union [ECF No. 41]; a Motion to Dismiss for Lack
of Jurisdiction, a Motion for Joinder in the Motion to Stay,
a Motion for Joinder in the Motion to Stay Memorandum, and a
Motion for Joinder in the Opposition to Plaintiffs'
Motion for Hearing, each filed by defendant Imerys Talc
America, Inc. [ECF Nos. 45, 47, 48, and 49]; and
Plaintiffs' Motion for Extension of Time to File Response
to Motion to Dismiss [ECF No. 51].
Plaintiffs filed this case in state court, alleging that the
use of talc products caused their ovarian cancer or that of
their deceased. Johnson & Johnson and Johnson &
Johnson Consumer Inc. ("the Johnson & Johnson
Defendants") removed the case to federal court on the
grounds that diversity of citizenship exists because PTI
Union LLC and PTI Royston LLC, the only Missouri-based
defendants, were fraudulently joined in this action because
they are immune from liability to Plaintiffs under the
contract specifications defense.
Johnson and Johnson Defendants seek a stay of this matter
pending transfer to the multidistrict litigation now pending
before Judge Freda Wolfson in the United States District
Court for the District of New Jersey. See In re Johnson
& Johnson Talcum Powder Mktg., Sales Practices &
Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2738. Plaintiffs oppose the
motion, and request an expedited ruling from the Court
remanding the case to state court prior to the disposition of
the Motion to Stay. The Court finds that a stay is
appropriate in this case and declines to address the other
district court has inherent power to stay its
proceedings." Simmons v. GlaxoSmithKline, LLC,
No. 4:15CV1397 CDP, 2015 WL 6063926, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Oct. 14,
2015) (citation omitted). "In determining whether to
stay proceedings, a district court must exercise judgment by
weighing 'competing interests' and maintaining
'an even balance.'" Id. (quoting
Bledsoe v. Janssen Pharm., No. 4:05CV02330 ERW, 2006
WL 335450, at *1 (E.D. Mo. Feb. 13, 2006)). When
"considering a motion to stay, a Court should consider
both the interest of judicial economy and the potential
prejudice or hardship to the parties." Lafoy v.
Volkswagen Grp. of Am., Inc., No. 4:16CV00466 ERW, 2016
WL 2733161, at *2 (E.D. Mo. May 11, 2016) (citation omitted).
"However, '[a] putative transferor court need not
automatically postpone rulings on pending motions, or in any
way generally suspend proceedings, merely on grounds that an
MDL transfer motion has been filed.'" Spears v.
Fresenius Med. Care N. Am., Inc., No. 4:13CV00855 CEJ,
2013 WL 2643302, at 1 (E.D. Mo. June 12, 2013) (quoting
T.F. v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 4:12CV01221 CDP, 2012 WL
3000229, at *1 (E.D. Mo. July 21, 2012) (internal quotation
Johnson and Johnson Defendants argue that a stay pending
transfer would promote judicial economy and consistency of
rulings. Further, they assert that absent a stay, the Court
will waste time supervising pretrial proceedings and ruling
on motions in a case that will soon be transferred to the MDL
court. Moreover, they argue they will be significantly
prejudiced and suffer hardship because they would be required
to engage in duplicate discovery and motions practice. In
response, Plaintiffs maintain that the removal is "pure
gamesmanship" designed to deprive them of their day in
Court finds that judicial economy weighs heavily in favor of
granting a stay in this matter. "A stay will allow
consistent pretrial rulings and conserve the resources of the
parties, counsel, and the judiciary." Simmons,
2015 WL 6063926, at *1. Further, the Court notes that other
recent cases presenting the same claims against the same
Defendants addressed the same stay and remand issues. In
those cases, the district judges stayed the proceedings
pending transfer to the MDL panel. See Johnson v. Johnson
& Johnson, No. 4:17-CV-2651 SNLJ (E.D. Mo. Dec. 5,
2017); Jinright v. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:17CV01849 ERW (E.D. Mo. Aug. 30, 2017); McBee v.
Johnson & Johnson, No. 4:17-CV-01496 JAR (E.D. Mo.
June 9, 2017); Rice v. Johnson & Johnson, No.
4:17-CV-01224-CDP (E.D. Mo.); Ghormley v. Johnson &
Johnson, No. 4:17-CV-00585 (CEJ) (E.D. Mo. Apr. 27,
2017); Rea v. Johnson & Johnson, No. 4:16-CV-
2165 SNLJ (E.D. Mo. Feb. 22, 2017). The Court finds no reason
to depart from these cases. Therefore, the Court will grant
the Johnson and Johnson Defendants' motion to stay all
proceedings in this matter pending transfer to the MDL court.
The Court notes that Plaintiffs will have a full and fair
opportunity to present their arguments for remand to the MDL
court should the case be transferred to MDL No. 2738.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that the Motion for
Joinder in the Motion to Stay All Proceedings by Imerys Talc
America, Inc. [ECF No. 47] is GRANTED.
IS FURTHER ORDERED that the Motion to Stay [ECF No.
4] is GRANTED. This case shall be
STAYED pending a decision by the MDL Panel
on whether to transfer this case to MDL No. 2738 in the
United States District Court for the District of New Jersey.
IS FINALLY ORDERED that all other pending motions