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Bogart v. Glenmark Generics, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

November 7, 2014

VALISHA BOGART, an individual., Plaintiff,
v.
GLENMARK GENERICS, INC., USA, a Delaware corporation; and DOES 1 through 50, inclusive, Defendants.

ORDER GRANTING IN PART AND DENYING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO DISMISS

LARRY ALAN BURNS, District Judge.

I. Introduction

Plaintiff Valisha K. Bogart alleges that she consumed defective birth control pills placed into the stream of commerce by Defendant Glenmark Generics and, as a result, became pregnant. Plaintiff's complaint lists six causes of action: (1) strict products liability; (2) negligence; (3) violation of the Consumer Legal Remedies Act ("CLRA"), Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1750 et. seq. ; (4) breach of the implied warranty of fitness for a particular purpose; (5) breach of the implied warranty of merchantability; and (6) breach of express warranty. Glenmark moves to dismiss all six causes of action for failure to state a claim.

II. Legal Standard

A Rule 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim challenges the legal sufficiency of a complaint. Navarro v. Block, 250 F.3d 729, 732 (9th Cir. 2001). The Court must accept all factual allegations as true and construe them in the light most favorable to Bogart. See Cedars-Sinai Med. Ctr. v. Nat'l League of Postmasters of U.S., 497 F.3d 972, 975 (9th Cir. 2007). To defeat Glenmark's motion to dismiss, Bogart's factual allegations needn't be detailed, but they must be sufficient to "raise a right to relief above the speculative level...." Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 544, 555 (2007). That is, "some threshold of plausibility must be crossed at the outset" before a case can go forward. Id. at 558 (internal quotations omitted). A claim has "facial plausibility when the plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to draw the reasonable inference that the Defendant is liable for the misconduct alleged." Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009). "The plausibility standard is not akin to a probability requirement, ' but it asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has acted unlawfully." Id.

Although the Court must draw all reasonable inferences in a way that is favorable to Bogart, it need not "necessarily assume the truth of legal conclusions merely because they are cast in the form of factual allegations." Warren v. Fox Family Worldwide, Inc., 328 F.3d 1136, 1139 (9th Cir. 2003) (internal quotations omitted). In fact, the Court does not need to accept any legal conclusions as true. Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678. A complaint does not suffice "if it tenders naked assertions devoid of further factual enhancement." Id. (internal quotations omitted). Nor does it suffice if it contains a merely formulaic recitation of the elements of a cause of action. Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555.

III. Discussion

The Court will address the claims in the order that Bogart asserts them.

A. Strict Products Liability

Under California law, strict products liability exposes a broad range of defendants to liability for defective products. Liability attaches if the plaintiff establishes an actual defect in the product and a causal connection between defendant, the product, and plaintiff's injury. See Romine v. Johnson Controls, Inc., 224 Cal.4th 990, 1000 (2014). A defective product is one that differs from the manufacturer's intended result or from other identical units of the same line of products. Barker v. Lull Eng'g Co., 20 Cal.3d 413, 429 (1978).

Bogart alleges that Glenmark is strictly liable "for manufacturing, distributing, selling, and/or placing the [b]irth [c]ontrol [p]ills into the stream of commerce." (Compl. ¶ 24.) Glenmark argues that her complaint fails to state a claim for strict products liability because it alleges the existence of a manufacturing defect by inference, asserting merely that Bogart was injured while using this product. To the contrary, the complaint contains greater factual details than Glenmark acknowledges. It specifies that the pills were packaged such that select blisters inside the pill box were rotated one hundred and eighty degrees within the card, thereby reversing the weekly tablet orientation. It alleges that these defects caused Bogart to take the pills out of order, making them ineffective for contraception and causing her harm in the form of an unintended and unwanted pregnancy. It further states that the birth control pills were defective when they left Glenmark's possession. (Compl. ¶ 14, 22.)

To survive a motion to dismiss, plaintiff's factual allegations must raise a right to relief above the speculative level. See Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555. The Court concludes that given the allegations, it is plausible that Glenmark may be strictly liable for a manufacturing defect. The motion to dismiss the strict products liability claim is DENIED.

B. Negligence

The elements of a products liability claim based on negligence under California law are that (1) defendant designed, manufactured, or supplied the product; (2) defendant fell below the standard of reasonable care in designing, manufacturing, or supplying the product; (3) plaintiff was harmed; and (4) defendant's negligence was a substantial factor in causing plaintiff's harm. See Judicial Council of California Civil Jury Instructions No. 1220 (2014).

Glenmark argues that Bogart's negligence claim is wholly dependent on her assumption that the product contained a manufacturing defect, and further moves for dismissal on the grounds that she improperly bases her negligence claim on a failure ...


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