Upcoming SCOTUS Case on Jurisdiction Is the Center of Attention Due to an Increase in Stay Requests in Mass Torts


Usually, attorneys will seek stays when a higher court is taking into account key issues in relation to their case. However, there has been a decent increase in these motions in consolidated actions throughout the country. Attorneys now find it unusual since the motions have all been citing the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to take up a key jurisdictional issue. They see it as a sign of the future significance the case holds.

The case at the foundation for the justices review is Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, it reviews out-of-state plaintiffs that can sue out-of-state defendants even though the state is not related to the plaintiffs claimed injuries. Many cases include out-of-state plaintiffs  and attorney’s predict the ruling on the issue can possibly result in a decrease of consolidated actions throughout the United States.

Some defendants have filed motions for stays in cases involving out-of-state plaintiffs due to the Supreme Court granting certiorari in a case in January. The motions seeking stay are using the  decision made by the Supreme Court to appeal in Bristol-Myers Squibb as the base of the stay.

“It surprised me with some of these motions, they’re envisioning that the Supreme Court is really going to totally overhaul personal jurisdiction.” said attorney Max Kennerly on the plaintiffs-side mass torts of Kennerly Lautner in Philadelphia.

Multiple lawyers are expecting an increase similar motions being filed, although many declined to speak for the article.

Case filings have been made in consolidated actions and individual product liability according to Kennerly.”This is all new ground, and the defense sees an opportunity to bring things to a halt, frankly,” Kennerly said.

On February 6th the Boston Scientific filed what may be the first motion directed to the certiorari grant in state court in Philadelphia. The filing made by the Boston Scientific was made in the mass tort litigation over its transvaginal mesh products claims.

The motion deals with personal jurisdiction issues similar to the rulings in the Bristol-Myers Squibb and a case called BNSF Railway v. Tyrrell and it claims it will, “will fundamentally change the court of this litigation.”

“Indeed, those decisions will definitely determine the precise issues Boston Scientific continues to raise with respect to personal jurisdiction here: whether non-Pennsylvania plaintiffs whose claims have no connection to the state of Pennsylvania can bring claims in a Pennsylvania court against non-Pennsylvania defendants,” according to the motion.

The motion was filed by Joseph Blum of Shook, Hardy & Bacon, they did not provide a comment.

There are 165 cases estimated of the transvaginal mesh tort pending. Boston Scientific’s  motion for stay was for six out-of-state cases.

The Ford Motor Co. in Santa Fe County filed a similar motion on February 16th. The Court of Appeals of the state of New Mexico was involved in the litigation which included 20 consolidated cases on interlocutory appeal.

There have also been many motions filed Missouri state court against the birth control device Mirena. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, states that out of 306 cases pending in the state action about 18 involve plaintiffs from Missouri. The motion characterized the plaintiffs bar having “funneled hundreds of nationwide claims into this single city court system, and packaged these claims together in carefully structured filings in an attempt to avoid diversity or class-action removal to federal court.”

Staying the litigation would encourage judicial coherence according to a reiterated point made by Bayer in regards to the brief.

“The company has moved for stays in these cases pending the outcome of a U.S. Supreme Court case that would require dismissal of claims brought by the vast majority of plaintiffs, who are not residents of Missouri,” said Steven Immergut from an email statement.

Although, many of the attorneys handling these cases are not responding to various calls for comment, there is a response from the plaintiffs.

In an emailed statement from an attorney involved in the first two pelvic mesh trails, Shanin Specter, he noted the only motion seeking stay citing Bristol-Myers Squibb, was Boston Scientific’s. Specter said, “wouldn’t be surprised to see copycat motions filed.”

The Bristol-Myers Squibb case, attorneys agree it will change the threshold for establishing personal jurisdiction. Although not all Pennsylvania’s Attorneys are worried, even though it could have serious effects on several states that have large court record of out-of-state plaintiffs.


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