JEFFERSON CITY – Bayer Corp. has scored a victory, with the Missouri Supreme Court agreeing with its argument that women who have sued the company over its Essure birth control device haven’t proven that the state's courts were the proper venue for the complaint.
In an unanimous opinion issued on Dec. 19 by Justice Laura Denvir Stith, the Missouri Supreme Court stated that the St. Louis Circuit Court erred when it overruled a motion to dismiss the original petition.
In the conclusion, Stith noted that an amended petition has been proposed. As a result, the court ordered the trial court to vacate its order overruling the motion to dismiss without prejudice. It also must consider if it will allow the class, which includes 92 women, to file the proposed amended petition.
The women initially sued Bayer a decade ago, claiming that they suffered injuries by the Essure birth control device, which is implanted into a woman's fallopian tubes.
Bayer, however, maintains that Missouri has no jurisdiction because 85 of the 92 women don’t live in the state and haven’t alleged that their injuries occurred in Missouri.
The circuit court overruled Bayer’s motion to dismiss in December 2016 on the grounds Bayer “is present or has consented to jurisdiction” in Missouri because corporations can be considered “present” in a state when agents are served with process in the state.
Bayer then sought a writ of prohibition in the court of appeals. That motion was denied.
Bayer then sought a writ of prohibition from the Missouri Supreme Court, which was issued in July, ordering the circuit court to demonstrate why a writ should not be issued that would prohibit it from doing anything other than vacating a Dec. 20, 2016 order overruling Bayer’s motion to dismiss.
Moreover, Bayer also argued that Missouri doesn’t have general jurisdiction because the company isn’t incorporated nor does it have its principal place of business in the state.
Citing BNSF Railway Co. v. Tyrrell, the court noted that simply having in-state business isn’t enough to allow the assertion of general jurisdictions over claims unrelated to business a company may conduct in the forum state.
The court also ruled that Bayer didn’t consent to personal jurisdiction simply by registering to do business in Missouri.
The state also can’t assert jurisdiction over non-residents’ claims simply because they may have been prescribed, obtained or used Essure in the state.