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Ruperto C. Rivera et al. v. Astrazeneca Pharmaceuticals Lp et al.

June 5, 2012

RUPERTO C. RIVERA ET AL.
v.
ASTRAZENECA PHARMACEUTICALS LP ET AL. THOMAS E. WALKER ET AL.
v.
ASTRAZENECA PHARMACEUTICALS LP ET AL. MERRILEE NESTANDE ET AL.
v.
ASTRAZENECA PHARMACEUTICALS LP ET AL.



The opinion of the court was delivered by: The Honorable Gary Allen Feess

LINKS: 12-02921: 15, 16, 17, 20, 21; 12-00492: 12, 13, 23, 24; 12-00495: 14, 25, 26

CIVIL MINUTES - GENERAL

Present: The Honorable GARY ALLEN FEESS

Renee Fisher None N/A Deputy Clerk Court Reporter / Recorder Tape No.

Attorneys Present for Plaintiffs: Attorneys Present for Defendants:

None None

Proceedings: (In Chambers)

ORDER REMANDING CASE

I. INTRODUCTION

These putative class actions arise out of personal injuries allegedly sustained as a result of using Crestor, a cholesterol-lowing drug manufactured by Defendant AstraZeneca Pharmaceuticals LP ("AstraZeneca") and distributed by Defendant McKesson Corporation ("McKesson"). (Docket No. 1, Not., Ex. 1 [Compl.].)*fn1 On April 3 and 4, 2012, Defendants removed each action to federal court on the purported basis of diversity of citizenship, 28 U.S.C. § 1332(a), and federal question jurisdiction, 28 U.S.C. § 1331. (Docket No. 1, Not.) Notwithstanding McKesson's California citizenship, Defendants claimed that the company had been fraudulently joined purely for the purpose of destroying diversity jurisdiction. (Not. ¶¶ 14--21.) Plaintiffs have now filed motions to stay and to remand the actions to state court. (Docket Nos. 20, 21.) Defendants have filed motions to dismiss various causes of action contained in each complaint, and motions to sever the multi-plaintiff complaints into separate cases. (Docket Nos. 15, 16, 17.) Because the Court concludes that Defendants have failed to meet their burden of demonstrating fraudulent joinder, and that the state law claims contained in the complaints do not raise substantial federal questions, the motions to remand are GRANTED, and the actions are REMANDED to Los Angeles County and Riverside County Superior Courts. Accordingly, the motions to dismiss, to stay, and to sever are DENIED as moot.

II. BACKGROUND

The United States Food and Drug Administration ("FDA") first approved Crestor® ("Crestor") as a cholesterol-lowering drug in 2003. (Id. ¶ 35.) According to the complaint, "recent news has come to light that casts a shadow on the safety of using Crestor." (Id.) In particular, Plaintiffs allege that the early results of studies looking into the risks of using Crestor are "not encouraging," as the drug has been linked to serious side effects, such as heart muscle disease and deterioration, heart attacks, sudden cardiac death, muscle deterioration, kidney and liver damage, and diabetes. (Id.)

Plaintiffs allege that Defendants "manufactured, tested, sold, offered for sale, supplied or placed [Crestor] in the stream of commerce, or in the course of business materially participated with others in so doing", despite knowing the drug "to be defective, unreasonably dangerous and hazardous, and . . . substantially certain to cause injury to persons within the State of California . . . ." (Id. ¶ 36.) Moreover, Plaintiffs allege that "through . . . funding and control of certain studies concerning the effects of Crestor", and "their control over trade publications", among other things, Defendants "cooperated with and/or assisted in the wrongful suppression, active concealment, and/or misrepresentation of the true relationship between Crestor and various diseases . . . ." (Id. ¶¶ 38--40.) According to the complaint, Defendants also made a series of "statements, representations and promotional schemes . . . [that] were deceptive, false, incomplete, [and/or] misleading", notwithstanding the fact that they knew, or should have known that such statements were false or misleading. (Id. ¶ 41.) Plaintiffs allege that they reasonably relied on these representations, that they were directly and proximately injured as a result, and that had they been adequately warned of the drug's potential side effects, they would have requested other medications and/or avoided Crestor. (Id. ¶¶ 42--43.)

Plaintiffs further allege that Defendants "negligently, recklessly and wantonly failed to warn [them] and the general public of the risks associated with taking Crestor . . . [notwithstanding] studies, including their own, show[ing] that there were problems concerning" various health risks. (Id. ΒΆ 45.) Accordingly, Plaintiffs allege that, "as designed, manufactured, distributed, sold and/or supplied by Defendants," Crestor was defective because it had been ...


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