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Collins v. Aurobindo Pharma USA, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. California

July 16, 2019

CARRIE COLLINS, an individual, on behalf of himself and all others similarly situated, Plaintiff,
v.
AUROBINDO PHARMA USA, INC.; and AUROBINDO LTD.; Defendants. Medication & Dose Quantity FUL Est. Replacement Cost

          ORDER DENYING PLANTIFF'S MOTION TO REMAND AND GRANTING IN PART DEFENDANT'S MOTION TO STAY [DOC. NOS. 5, 6]

          HON. MICHAEL M. ANELLO, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Plaintiff Carrie Collins (“Plaintiff”) filed this putative class action against Defendants Aurobindo Pharma USA (“Aurobindo USA”) and Aurobindo LTD, (collectively, “Defendants”) in the Superior Court of California, County of San Diego. See Doc. No. 1-2, Ex. A (hereinafter “Compl.”). On April 15, 2019, Aurobindo USA removed the action to this Court pursuant to the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”), 28 U.S.C. § 1332(d).[1] See Doc. No. 1.

         On May 15, 2019, Plaintiff filed a motion to remand this action back to state court. See Doc. No. 5. Aurobindo USA then filed an opposition, to which Plaintiff replied. See Doc. Nos. 14, 15. On May 22, 2019, Aurobindo USA filed a motion to stay proceedings pending a decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”). See Doc. No. 6. Plaintiff subsequently filed an opposition. See Doc. No. 13. Aurobindo USA did not file a reply. See Docket.

         The Court found the matters suitable for determination on the papers and without oral argument pursuant to Civil Local Rule 7.1.d.1. See Doc. No. 16. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES Plaintiff's motion to remand and GRANTS IN PART Aurobindo USA's motion to stay.

         Background

         On or about November 24, 2018, Plaintiff, a California resident, was prescribed the prescription drug Valsartan-HCTZ 320-12.5 manufactured by Defendants. See Compl. ¶¶ 2, 17. On December 31, 2018, Defendants recalled 80 lots of valsartan-containing medications including Valsartan, Valsartan HCTZ, and Amlodipine Valsartan (“Valsartan”). See Doc. No. 1-3, ¶ 9; Compl. ¶ 3.

         On March 11, 2019, Plaintiff filed this putative class action in San Diego Superior Court, alleging three claims for relief: (1) violation of California's Consumers Legal Remedies Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1770(a)(5), 1770(a)(7); (2) breach of implied warranty under California's Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act, Cal. Civ. Code §§ 1792, 1791.1; and (3) violation of California's Unfair Competition Law, Cal. Bus. & Prof. Code § 17200. See Compl. Plaintiff defines the proposed class as “[a]ll persons or entities who purchased or used Defendants' contaminated Valsartan in California.” Id. ¶ 17.

         Defendant removed the action to this Court on April 15, 2019. See Doc. No. 1. Subsequently, Plaintiff filed the instant motion to remand. See Doc. No. 5. Aurobindo USA filed an answer on June 25, 2019. See Doc. No. 17.

         On April 17, 2019, Aurobindo USA filed a Notice of Potential Tag-Along Action with the JPML. See Doc. No. 6-1, Ex. B. Pursuant to that notice, the JPML entered a Conditional Transfer Order (“CTO”) on April 19, 2019, indicating that this action would be transferred to an existing multi-district litigation (“MDL”) in the District of New Jersey, In re: Valsartan Products Liability Litigation, MDL No. 2875 (“Valsartan MDL”), unless parties object to the transfer. See Doc. No. 6-1, Ex. C. On April 26, 2019, Plaintiff filed a notice of opposition to the CTO, and later filed a motion to vacate or stay the CTO pending this Court's decision on the instant motion to remand to state court. See Doc. No. 6-1, ¶¶ 12, 14. As such, the motion to vacate the CTO, the motion to remand, and the motion to stay the action in this Court are all fully briefed.

         Order of Motions

         In the interest of judicial efficiency, courts generally “address subject matter jurisdiction at the outset in the ‘mine run of cases,' and reach other issues first only where the jurisdictional issue is ‘difficult to determine,' and the other ground is relatively less burdensome.” Potter v. Hughes, 546 F.3d 1051, 1061 (9th Cir. 2008). Further, the pendency of a CTO or motion before the JPML “does not affect or suspend orders and pretrial proceedings in any pending federal district court action and does not limit the pretrial jurisdiction of that court.” See J.P.M.L. Rule 2.1(d); Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980 F.Supp. 1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997) (noting that a court should not automatically stay a case or suspend rulings upon a party's motion before the JPML).

         The sole jurisdictional issue before the Court is whether it has jurisdiction pursuant to CAFA. See Doc. No. 5-1. Thus, it is not so difficult to determine that a decision should be deferred to the JPML. See Conroy v. Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc., 325 F.Supp.2d 1049, 1053 (N.D. Cal. 2004) (finding a court should wait until transfer to an MDL if jurisdictional issues are legally difficult). This Court accordingly addresses Plaintiff's remand motion prior to addressing Aurobindo USA's motion to stay.

         Motion to Remand

         A. Le ...


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