United States District Court, E.D. California
DAVID STARK; BILLY SMALL, JR.; LINDA WHITE, individually and as successor-in-interest of the ESTATE OF CHARLES WHITE; GAYLON MURRY; RUTH KENNON, individually and as successor-in-interest of the ESTATE OF JAMES KENNON; and NANCY HOOSER, Plaintiffs,
McKESSON CORPORATION; BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB COMPANY; PFIZER, INC.; and Does 1-100, inclusive, Defendants.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
MORRISON C. ENGLAND, JR UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
suit arises out of alleged defects in the pharmaceutical
product Eliquis. Plaintiffs are four individuals who used
Eliquis and two successors-in-interest of individuals who
allegedly died as a result of their Eliquis usage. Defendants
are two pharmaceutical manufacturers-Bristol-Myers Squibb Co.
(“BMS”) and Pfizer, Inc.-and one pharmaceutical
distributor-McKesson Corp. The suit was originally filed in
the San Joaquin County Superior Court, but was removed to
this Court by Defendants BMS and Pfizer on January 17, 2017.
ECF No. 1. In removing the suit, BMS and Pfizer claim that
McKesson (a California citizen for diversity purposes) was
fraudulently joined in order to destroy diversity.
suit is one of a number of Eliquis cases currently pending in
both California and federal courts. On February 7, 2017, the
U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL
Panel”) ordered that 34 Eliquis federal cases be
transferred to the Southern District of New York “for
coordinated or consolidated pretrial proceedings.”
Transfer Order, ECF No. 19-15, at 4. The same day, the Panel
issued a conditional transfer order for 16 other Eliquis
cases, including this one. Conditional Transfer Order, ECF
No. 19-16, at 2-3. Plaintiffs have stated their intent to
oppose that transfer. Pls.' Opp'n to Mot. to Stay,
ECF No. 20, at 3. Furthermore, Plaintiffs have petitioned the
Chair of the Judicial Council of California for coordination
of the pending California Eliquis Cases. Id. at 2.
That petition was set for hearing on March 8, 2017.
before the Court now are Defendants' Motions to Dismiss
for Lack of Jurisdiction, to Stay, and to Drop Parties for
Improper Joinder, as well as Plaintiffs' Motion to
Remand. ECF Nos. 5, 7, 15-16. For the reasons provided below,
Defendants' Motion to Stay is GRANTED. Accordingly, the
Court does not address the three other pending motions, which
are stricken without prejudice to refiling, if appropriate,
when the stay is lifted.
“trial court may, with propriety, find it is efficient
for its own docket and the fairest course for the parties to
enter a stay of an action before it, pending resolution of
independent proceedings which bear upon the case.”
Mediterranean Enters., Inc. v. Ssangyong Corp., 708
F.2d 1458, 1465 (9th Cir. 1983) (quoting Leyva v.
Certified Grocers of Cal., Ltd., 593 F.2d 857 863-64
(9th Cir. 1979). The power to issue a stay derives from a
federal district court's power to control its docket and
ensure that cases before it are justly determined.
Leyva, 593 F.2d at 864. When considering a motion to
stay, the court weighs a series of competing interests:
the possible damage which may result from the granting of a
stay, the hardship or inequity which a party may suffer in
being required to go forward, and the orderly course of
justice measured in terms of the simplifying or complicating
of issues, proof, and questions of law which could be
expected to result from a stay.
CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir.
1962) (citing Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248,
context of staying proceedings pending a motion before an MDL
Panel, these factors are better framed as follows: “(1)
conserving judicial resources and avoiding duplicative
litigation; (2) hardship and inequity to the moving party if
the action is not stayed; and (3) potential prejudice to the
non-moving party.” Lingle v. DePuy Orthopaedics,
Inc., No. 11cvl486 L(MDD), 2011 WL 5600539, at *1 (S.D.
Cal. Nov. 17, 2011). Application of these factors to the
instant case weighs in favor of implementing a stay and
declining to address the three other motions pending before
there is no indication that a short stay pending resolution
of the conditional transfer of this case to the JPML would
prejudice Plaintiffs. They claim that should a stay issue,
they would “be forced to file and argue motion to
remand in two different courts.” Pls.' Opp'n to
Mot. to Stay, at 6. It is unclear, however, why such a result
would cause prejudice. Either the case will be transferred to
the pending MDL court proceeding or it will remain before
this Court. In either case, only one court will hear and rule
on the pending motion to remand. Second, there is the
potential for inequity if the action is not stayed. Identical
jurisdictional issues raised here are raised in the various
Eliquis cases now pending in the MDL proceeding. Decl. of
Brooke Kim, ECF No. 7-1, ¶¶ 9-11. Without a stay,
Defendants would have to argue almost identical motions
before different courts, potentially creating conflicting
results. Finally, judicial economy warrants a stay. If the
case is transferred to the MDL proceeding, one court will be
in the position to decide the identical jurisdictional issues
presented by each case. Accordingly, the Court finds that a
stay of the proceedings is appropriate in this
reasons provided above, Defendants' Motion to Stay, ECF
No. 7, is GRANTED. All proceedings in this case are hereby
stayed pending a final ruling by the MDL Panel on In re:
Eliquis (Apixaban) Products Liability Litigation, MDL
No. 2754. The parties are directed to file a Joint Status
Report advising the Court of the status of the motion pending
before the MDL Panel every forty-five (45) days; the first
such report must be filed not later than forty-five (45) days
after this Order is electronically filed. Failure to do so
may result in monetary sanctions and/or dismissal of this
action for noncompliance with the Court's Order and/or
the failure to prosecute. The remaining pending Motions, ECF
Nos. 5, 15-16, are stricken without prejudice to refiling, if
appropriate, when the stay is lifted.