Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Ramirez v. Vintage Pharmaceuticals, LLC

United States Court of Appeals, Third Circuit

March 28, 2017

MELISSA RAMIREZ, ET. AL.
v.
VINTAGE PHARMACEUTICALS, LLC; ENDO PHARMACEUTICALS, INC; ENDO HEALTH SOLUTIONS, INC., f/k/o ENDO PHARMACEUTICALS HOLDINGS, INC.; PATHEON, INC. Patheon, Inc.; Appellant in 17-1121 Vintage Pharmaceuticals, LLC; Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Endo Health Solutions, Inc., Appellants in 17-1126

          Argued February 22, 2017

         On Appeal from the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania (D.C. Civil No. 2-15-cv-06162) District Judge: Honorable Juan R. Sanchez

          Barbara R. Binis REED SMITH LLP Angela R. Vicari [Argued] ARNOLD & PORTER KAYE SCHOLER LLP Counsel for Appellants Vintage Pharmaceuticals, LLC, Endo Pharmaceuticals, Inc & Endo Health Solutions, Inc.

          Christopher R. Carton Loly G. Tor K&L GATES LLP Amy L. Groff K&L GATES LLP Counsel for Appellant Patheon Inc.

          Steven L. Beard STEVEN L. BEARD, P.C. Keith D. Bodoh [Argued] ROBERTSON, BODOH & NASRALLAH, LLP Walter Z. Steinman LAW OFFICES OF WALTER Z. STEINMAN Counsel for Appellees, Melissa Ramirez, et al.

          Before: CHAGARES, VANASKIE, and KRAUSE, Circuit Judges

          OPINION

          VANASKIE, Circuit Judge.

         The Class Action Fairness Act of 2005 ("CAFA"), Pub. L. 109-2, 119 Stat. 4 (2005), extends federal jurisdiction to "mass actions." See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11). One mandatory characteristic of a mass action is a proposal by more than one hundred persons to try their claims jointly. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(i). However, cases that are consolidated or coordinated only for pretrial purposes are explicitly exempted from CAFA's mass action provision, and thus are not removable. See 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d)(11)(B)(ii)(IV). The question before us on appeal is whether the Complaint filed by the Plaintiff-Appellees in state court proposed a joint trial such that their action was properly removed to federal court.

         Plaintiff-Appellees are a group of 113 birth control users affected by a packaging error on certain brands of Qualitest birth control pills. These affected users filed a products liability action against the Defendant-Appellant manufacturers in Pennsylvania state court that was subsequently removed. Plaintiffs now argue this removal was improper because they did not propose to try their claims jointly, but their Complaint sends mixed signals. Weighing in favor of federal jurisdiction under CAFA, Plaintiffs filed a single complaint which joins the claims of 113 persons and contains numerous instances of language that indicates a single trial was contemplated. Cutting against federal jurisdiction, the Complaint specifies that the Plaintiffs' "claims have been filed together . . . for purposes of case management on a mass tort basis." (Compl. ¶ 1; J.A. 139.) Plaintiffs characterize this language as seeking to limit the coordination of their claims to pretrial matters. They also point to a motion filed in the state court requesting admission to the Mass. Tort Program, which allegedly prevents their claims from being tried jointly.

         After the District Court ordered the action be remanded to state court for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, we accepted the manufacturers' request for appeal under 28 U.S.C. § 1453(c)(1). Upon careful consideration, we will reverse the Order of the District Court and find federal jurisdiction to be proper under CAFA. Importantly, we determine that the language Plaintiffs hold out as disclaiming their intent to seek a joint trial is not sufficiently definite to prevent removal as a mass action. Where, as here, more than 100 plaintiffs file a single complaint containing claims involving common questions of law and fact, a proposal for a joint trial will be presumed unless an explicit and unambiguous disclaimer is included.

         I.

         The consumer products liability case before us begins, like many others, with a recall. A packaging error affecting a brand of Qualitest birth control pills was discovered in the wake of a consumer product complaint. This error reversed the sequence of pills contained within each birth control package, which precipitated an unintended and less effective dosage program. Eight brands of Qualitest birth control pills-each of which shared a common packaging process and were at risk for the same error-executed nationwide recalls reaching more than 3.2 million blister packs of birth control.

         Plaintiffs, alleging that they were harmed by the packaging error, launched this products liability action against the Defendant-Appellant manufacturers of the birth control pills and packaging in the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County, Pennsylvania.[1] The Complaint alleges that the similarly-situated plaintiffs are residents of 28 different states "whose claims arise out of a common set of operative facts . . . and which claims have been filed together . . . for purposes of case management on a mass tort basis." (Compl. ¶ 1; J.A. 139.)

         The Complaint contains a section devoted to "FACTS COMMON TO ALL COUNTS" and a "DAMAGES" section that divides the 113 plaintiffs into three categories based on their state residency. After each count in the Complaint, Plaintiffs collectively "request a jury trial." (Compl. ¶¶ 21, 25, 29, 37, 41; J.A. 145-50.) In the Prayer for Relief, Plaintiffs, again collectively, seek "an award of damages in such amount to be determined at trial." (Compl. ¶ 41; J.A. 150.) Similarly, the Complaint's Notice to Defend warns the manufacturers that if they fail to ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.