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Kevin Bryant v. Apotex

May 3, 2013


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Jennifer L. Thurston United States Magistrate Judge


Defendants Apotex, Inc.; Actavis Elizabeth, LLC; Teva Pharmaceuticals USA; American Health Packaging; Mylan Pharmaceuticals, Inc.; Mylan Institutional, Inc.; and Major Pharmaceuticals, Inc. (collectively, "Defendants") seek a stay of the action, pending the resolution of Plaintiff's appeal in a separate state court action. (Doc. 56). Plaintiff Kevin Bryant ("Plaintiff"), who is proceeding pro se, filed his opposition to the motion on April 22, 2013 (Doc. 62), to which Defendants replied on April 23, 2013. (Doc. 63). For the following reasons, Defendants' motion for a stay is GRANTED.

I. Factual and Procedural Background

Plaintiff initiated an action in Kern County Superior Court against the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation ("CDCR") and several of its employees on December 22, 2010.*fn1 (Doc. 56-1 at 1). Plaintiff alleged "medical and professional negligence, deliberate indifference to his serious 2 medical needs and fraud" for administering Gabapentin and Tramadol in crushed form, which Plaintiff 3 argued caused severe pain, esophagus damage and internal bleeding. (Doc. 56-3). The defendants filed 4 a motion for summary judgment, which was granted on August 6, 2012. (Doc. 56-7). The court found 5 the defendants demonstrated there was "no triable issue of fact on the issues of negligence, causation of 6 injury or intentional tortious behavior towards Plaintiff." Id. at 2. Plaintiff appealed the entry of 7 summary judgment in Bryant v. The Superior Court of Kern County, Case No. f065849, which is 8 currently pending before the Fifth District Court of Appeal. 9

On May 9, 2012, Plaintiff initiated this action by filing a complaint against Defendants in Kern County Superior Court. (Doc. 1, Exh. A). Plaintiff asserts Defendants, which manufacture and distribute prescription drugs, are liable for general negligence, intentional tort, products liability, and fraud for failure to warn about the dangers of administering gabapentin and tramadol in crushed form. (Doc. 1 at 2, 14). On August 21, 2012, Actavis Elizabeth LLC filed a Notice of Removal, asserting the Court has diversity jurisdiction over the matter pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1332. (Doc. 1). Plaintiff filed a motion to remand the action to Kern County Superior Court (Doc. 19), which was denied by the Court on November 27, 2012. (Doc. 35).

Defendants filed a motion for judgment on the pleadings pursuant to Rule 12(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure on November 28, 2012. (Doc. 39). The Court granted the motion in part and denied it in part on January 30, 2013.*fn2 (Doc. 54). Notably, in opposing this motion, Plaintiff clarified that the gist of his complaint was not that Defendants failed to warn that gabapentin and tramadol could not be crushed but, instead, that Defendants specifically gave prison officials permission to crush the medications and float them in water when administering them to inmates. (Doc. 54 at 3-4) Plaintiff claimed this permission was given despite its clear contradiction to label warnings which preclude this manner of administration. Id. Moreover, Plaintiff claims that having been administered the drugs that were "crushed and floated," caused him physical injury. (Doc. 1 at 16, 17 ["But for these defendants 2 administering these two drugs to Me this contraindicative way stated above I would not have suffered 3 these damages and injuries resulting therefrom, as there was no other possible cause therefor."]) 4

II. Legal Standards

The Supreme Court explained the "power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control the disposition of the causes on its docket with economy of time and effort for 7 itself, for counsel, and for litigants." Landis v. North American Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254-255 (1936).

For reasons of "wise judicial administration," a district court may stay a federal action based on "the 9 presence of a concurrent state proceeding." Moses H. Cone Mem. Hosp. v. Mercury Constr. Corp., 460 U.S. 1, 15 (1983) (citing Colorado River Water Conservation Dist. v. United States, 424 U.S. 800, 818 (1976)).

To evaluate whether to stay an action, the Court must the weigh competing interests that will be affected by the grant or refusal to grant a stay. CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962). Among these competing interests are: (1) the possible damage which may result from the granting of a stay; (2) the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in being required to go forward; and (3) the orderly course of justice measured in terms of simplifying or complicating of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be expected to result from a stay. Id. (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 254-55)).

The party seeking a stay "bears the burden of establishing its need." Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 708 (1997) (citing Landis, 299 U.S. at 255). The Supreme Court explained, "If there is even a fair possibility that the stay . . . will work damage to some one else," the party seeking the stay "must make out a clear case of hardship or inequity." Landis, 299 U.S. at 255. The decision whether to grant or deny a stay is committed to the discretion of the Court. Dependable Highway Express, Inc. v. Navigators Ins. Co., 498 F.3d 1059, 1066 (9th Cir. 2007).

III. Discussion and Analysis

Defendants argue "a stay of proceedings is appropriate pending the resolution of Plaintiff's appeal of the summary judgment entered against him the CDCR Case." (Doc. 56-1 at 4). Defendants note Plaintiff alleged the CDCR's policy "of administering gabapentin and tramadol in crushed form caused Plaintiff to suffer injuries, including internal bleeding and hemorrhaging to the esophagus." Id. at 5-6 (emphasis omitted). Defendants assert "the causation issue decided in the CDCR Case is 2 identical to that presented in this action, because Plaintiff asserts that "as the end result of the 3

Pharmaceutical Defendants' alleged negligent conduct, prison officials administered tramadol and 4 gabapentin in crushed form, thereby causing him to suffer injuries, including internal bleeding and 5 hemorrhaging to the esophagus. Id. ...

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