Miller et al v. Bayer Healthcare Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER. (See Full Order.) IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Bayer HealthCare's motion to stay [# 7 ] is granted. Signed by District Judge Catherine D. Perry on 9/22/2015. (CBL)
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT
EASTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI
JENNIFER MILLER, et al.,
) Case No. 4:15CV1401 CDP
MEMORANDUM AND ORDER
This case comes before me on the motion to stay filed by Defendant Bayer
HealthCare Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Plaintiffs oppose a stay, arguing the case should
instead be remanded to state court. Because I agree that judicial economy favors a
stay of this action, I will grant Bayer HealthCare’s motion.
Jennifer Miller and over eighty other plaintiffs (collectively, “Miller”), filed
suit in state court alleging that the Mirena hormonal IUD manufactured and
designed by Defendant Bayer HealthCare, caused them significant physical injury.
Bayer HealthCare removed to federal court on the basis of diversity jurisdiction
under 28 U.S.C. §§ 1332, 1441, and 1446, alleging that the sole non-diverse
plaintiff was fraudulently joined and that the out-of-state plaintiffs were
procedurally misjoined. Miller has filed a motion to remand, and Bayer
HealthCare has filed a motion to dismiss for lack of personal jurisdiction.
This case represents one of a large number of products liability actions now
pending in federal court related to the Mirena IUD. On April 8, 2013, the Judicial
Panel on Multidistrict Litigation established an MDL case before the Honorable
Cathy Seibel of the United States District Court for the Southern District of New
York. See In re: Mirena IUD Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 2434. Bayer
HealthCare seeks an order staying all proceedings in this action pending
anticipated transfer of this case to the MDL court. Miller opposes a stay and
requests that I first rule on her motion to remand.
A district court has inherent power to stay its proceedings. Bledsoe v.
Janssen Pharmaceutica, No. 4:05CV02330 ERW, 2006 WL 335450, at *1 (E.D.
Mo. Feb. 13, 2006). This power 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 itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Id. (quoting Landis v. N. Am. Co.,
299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936)). In determining whether to stay proceedings, a district
court must exercise judgment by weighing “competing interests” and maintaining
“an even balance.” Id. at 254–55; Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980 F. Supp. 1358,
1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997). Specifically, “the district court should consider three
factors: (1) potential prejudice to the nonmoving party; (2) hardship and inequity to
the moving party if the action is not stayed; and (3) the judicial resources that
would be saved by avoiding duplicative litigation if the cases are in fact
consolidated.” Rivers, 980 F. Supp. at 1360; Bledsoe, 2006 WL 335450, at *1.
Bayer HealthCare argues that a stay pending transfer to the MDL court is
necessary to preserve judicial resources, to ensure uniform decisions on pretrial
rulings, and to minimize prejudice to the parties. The Court finds Bayer
HealthCare’s arguments persuasive.
Judicial economy weighs heavily in favor of granting a stay. A stay will
allow consistent pretrial rulings and conserve the resources of the parties, counsel,
and the judiciary. Absent a stay, these entities likely will be forced to engage in
duplicative efforts in a number of fora. While Miller will be subjected to some
prejudice in the form of a delay pending transfer, that prejudice is largely
outweighed by the judicial economy obtained.
In addition, once transferred, the likelihood of inconsistent rulings will be
greatly diminished. The desire to avoid inconsistent rulings guides decisions
affecting the MDL process. Cf. In re Vioxx Prods. Liab. Litig., 360 F. Supp. 2d
1352, 1354 (J.P.M.L. 2005) (“Centralization under Section 1407 is necessary in
order to eliminate duplicative discovery, avoid inconsistent pretrial rulings, and
conserve the resources of the parties, their counsel and the judiciary.”).
Miller argues that this case should be remanded before transfer because
jurisdiction is a threshold matter to be given first priority. However, “plaintiffs’
pending remand motion ‘can be presented to and decided by the transferee judge.’”
Buie v. Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Kansas City, Inc., No. 05-0534-CV-W-FJG,
2005 WL 2218461, at *1 (W.D. Mo. Sept. 13, 2005) (citing In re Prudential Ins.
Co. of Am. Sales Practices Litig., 170 F. Supp. 2d 1346, 1347 (J.P.M.L. Aug. 15,
2001); In re Ivy, 901 F.2d 7, 9 (2d Cir. 1990)); see also In re Vioxx, 360 F.
Supp. 2d at 1354 (“The pendency of a motion to remand to state court is not a
sufficient basis to avoid inclusion in Section 1407 proceedings.”). This Court finds
that the circumstances favor allowing the transferee judge to rule on the remand
motion if the case is ultimately transferred to the MDL.
IT IS HEREBY ORDERED that Defendant Bayer HealthCare’s motion to
stay [# 7] is granted.
CATHERINE D. PERRY
UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
Dated this 22nd day of September, 2015.
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