Bartholome v. Pfizer Inc.
OPINION MEMORANDUM AND ORDER IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendants Motion to Dismiss for Lack of Personal Jurisdiction, [Doc. No. 5], is GRANTED. 5 Signed by District Judge Henry Edward Autrey on 1/29/16. (CLA)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
TRACY BARTHOMOME, individually
and as Natural Mother and Next Friend
of C.B., a Minor,
) CASE NO.: 4:15CV788 HEA
OPINION, MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This matter is before the Court on Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack
of Personal Jurisdiction, [Doc. No. 5]. Plaintiffs oppose the motion. For the
reasons set forth below, the Court will grant Defendant’s Motion
Plaintiffs filed this action in the Circuit Court for the City of St. Louis,
Missouri, alleging that Minor Plaintiff suffered birth defects as a result of his
mother’s ingestion of the prescription drug Zoloft during pregnancy. Pfizer
removed the action to this Court and filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal
“If jurisdiction has been controverted, the plaintiff has the burden of proving
facts supporting personal jurisdiction. See Dever v. Hentzen Coatings, Inc., 380
F.3d 1070, 1072 (8th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff’s prima facie showing must be
tested, not by the pleading alone, but by the affidavits and exhibits presented with
the motions and opposition thereto. Id.” Miller v. Nippon Carbon Co., Ltd., 528
F.3d 108, 1090 (8th Cir. 2008) (internal quotations omitted).
“The Supreme Court has recognized two theories for evaluating personal
jurisdiction: general and specific jurisdiction. Helicopteros Nacionales de
Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414-15 (1984). A state may exercise general
jurisdiction if a defendant has carried on in the forum state a continuous and
systematic, even if limited, part of its general business; in such circumstances the
alleged injury need not have any connection with the forum state. Keeton v.
Hustler Magazine, Inc., 465 U.S. 770, 779 (1984). The plaintiff must make a prima
facie showing, however, that the defendant's contacts were not ‘random,’
‘fortuitous,’ or ‘attenuated.’ Id. at 774. Specific jurisdiction on the other hand is
appropriate only if the injury giving rise to the lawsuit occurred within or had some
connection to the forum state, meaning that the defendant purposely directed its
activities at the forum state and the claim arose out of or relates to those activities.
Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 472 (1985).” Steinbuch v. Cutler,
518 F.3d 580, 586 (8th Cir. 2008).
As discussed, the exercise of specific jurisdiction is appropriate if the injury
giving rise to the lawsuit occurred within or had some connection to the forum
state, meaning that the defendant purposely directed its activities at the forum state
and the claim arose out of or relates to those activities. Here, Plaintiffs’ claims
have no specific connection to activities in Missouri. Minor Plaintiff was born in
Clermont, Florida, and Mother Plaintiff does not allege she ingested Zoloft in
Missouri during pregnancy. Plaintiffs allege no connection with Missouri.
Defendant’s only contacts with Missouri are that they marketed and sold Zoloft in
Missouri. These contacts do not relate to the causes of action in this suit, which
arise out Mother Plaintiff’s ingestion of Zoloft in Florida and
Minor Plaintiff’s subsequent birth. The Court finds that the controversy at issue is
not related to or arising out of any of Pfizer’s contacts with Missouri, and the Court
lacks specific jurisdiction over Pfizer in this case.
General jurisdiction or “all purpose jurisdiction” is the authority to hear any and all
claims against a defendant. See Goodyear Dunlop Tire Ops., S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.
Ct. 2846, 2853 (2011). A forum’s exercise of general jurisdiction over a
corporation is limited to its formal place of incorporation and principal place of
business except in an “exceptional case.” See Daimler AG v. Bauman, 134 S. Ct.
746, 761 and n.19 (2014). Pfizer’s formal place of incorporation is Delaware; its
principal place of business is New York; and this is not an exceptional case.
Plaintiffs have not alleged any facts to suggest Pfizer’s activities in Missouri
are anything other than that of a business conducting activities in multiple states.
For example, Plaintiffs have not pled that Pfizer maintains its corporate
headquarters in Missouri, is managed from Missouri, or has revenue from sales in
Missouri that exceed that of other states. The mere marketing of Zoloft in Missouri
does not make Pfizer’s connection with the state continuous and systematic as to
render it at home here. See Goodyear Dunlop, 131 S. Ct. at 2851. Merely
establishing that a corporation regularly conducts business in a forum is not
sufficient to confer general jurisdiction. See Daimler, 134 S. Ct. 746, 761
(rejecting the concept that a business organization is at home in a forum state
merely because it does significant business there).
Plaintiffs have not alleged any facts supporting a finding of personal
jurisdiction in this case. The Court will dismiss the case for lack of personal
jurisdiction pursuant to Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2). 1
This Court has found no personal jurisdiction several times already when faced
with similar claims against this same defendant, see Barron v. Pfizer, Inc., No
4:15-CV-584 CAS (E.D. Mo. filed Oct. 6, 2015); Clarke v. Pfizer, Inc. , No. 4:154
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant’s Motion to Dismiss for Lack
of Personal Jurisdiction, [Doc. No. 5], is GRANTED.
Dated this 29th day of January, 2016.
HENRY EDWARD AUTREY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
CV-1072AGF (E.D. Mo. filed Sept. 8, 2015); Keeley v. Pfizer, Inc., No. 4:15-CV583 ERW (E.D. Mo. filed July 1, 2015); Fidler v. Pfizer Inc., No. 4:15-CV-582
RWS (E.D. Mo. filed June 25, 2015).
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