ST. LOUIS — A landmark ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court involving tort claims of out-of-state plaintiffs continues to have impact in jurisdictional rulings.

Citing U.S. Supreme Court case Bristol-Myers Squibb v. Superior Court of California, U.S. District Judge Stephen Limbaugh earlier this month dismissed the claims of 53 non-Missouri plaintiffs who were joined with one state resident suing Janssen Pharmaceuticals over the antipsychotic medicine Risperdal. 

The Janssen case was filed in state court on March 8 by 54 claimants from 26 states, according to the federal court ruling. It was removed to the Eastern District of Missouri in May, with Janssen asserting diversity jurisdiction. The plaintiffs, however, sought to keep the case at state court. 

The plaintiffs contended that the out-of-state plaintiffs were properly joined because all of their claims “arise out of the same series of transactions and occurrences, and their claims involve common questions of law and fact.”

Rather than respond to the defendants' motion to dismiss, the plaintiffs sought to stay dismissal proceedings and moved to remand to state court. 

"Unfortunately for the plaintiffs, Bristol-Myers Squibb, under the facts of this case, made personal jurisdiction the more straightforward issue and therefore more proper to be analyzed first," Limbaugh wrote in an Aug. 10 order. "Further, Bristol-Myers Squibb held that forums, like Missouri in this action, do not have specific personal jurisdiction over non-resident corporations when the plaintiffs do not allege any specific connection between the forum and the specific claims at issue."

Limbaugh granted the defendants' motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction, with the claims of all plaintiffs other than Missouri resident, lead plaintiff Annette Covington, being dismissed without prejudice for lack of personal jurisdiction.

He further denied the plaintiffs' motion to remand the case back to state court.

On June 19, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision in favor of Bristol-Myers Squibb, which was sued by a more than 600 plaintiffs in San Francisco County Superior Court over its prescription blood thinner Plavix. The high court concluded that the California state court did not have specific jurisdiction over lawsuits brought by out-of-state residents against a company not incorporated or headquartered there.

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