Schroeder et al v. Ethicon, Inc. et al

Filing 56

ORDER granting the Motion by Certain Plaintiffs in Wave 2 Cases to Strike Dr. Shelby F. Thames' Supplemental Reports or, in the Alternative, for Leave to File a Daubert Motion Based on the Flawed Methodology Employed Therein filed in MDL 2327 at ECF No. 2882, as more fully set forth herein. Signed by Judge Joseph R. Goodwin on 3/28/2017. (cc: counsel of record; any unrepresented party) (REF: MDL 2327; Cases Listed on Exhibit A) (ts)

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IN THE UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT FOR THE SOUTHERN DISTRICT OF WEST VIRGINIA CHARLESTON DIVISION IN RE: ETHICON, INC., PELVIC REPAIR SYSTEM PRODUCTS LIABILITY LITIGATION MDL No. 2327 ______ THIS DOCUMENT RELATES TO: Cases identified in Exhibit A attached hereto ORDER Pending before the court is the plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike the Dr. Shelby F. Thames’s Supplemental Reports or, in the Alternative, for Leave to File a Daubert Motion [ECF No. 2882]. Ethicon filed its Response [ECF No. 3020]. The plaintiffs’ Motion requests exclusion of Dr. Thames’s two supplemental reports but also requests that the court, in the alternative, allow them additional time to depose Dr. Thames. For the reasons detailed below, the plaintiffs’ Motion is GRANTED as to the cases in Exhibit A. 1 I. Background Pursuant to the Fourth Amended Wave 2 Docket Control Order [ECF No. 1790] (“Docket Control Order”), Ethicon was required to disclose its experts (and their opinions) on or before June 3, 2016. Docket Control Order 1. Discovery closed on July On Exhibit A, I have marked through cases that are closed, on the inactive docket, not in Wave 1, could not be identified because of an error in the style or case number, or assigned to another District Judge. 1 1, 2016. Id. Further, all Daubert briefing was to be completed by August 18, 2016, with Daubert motions due July 21, 2017. Id. Ethicon timely disclosed Dr. Thames as an expert, along with his initial expert report. In the plaintiffs’ Wave 1 Daubert motion on Dr. Thames, they questioned the reliability of Dr. Thames’s explant cleaning protocol. Mem. Supp. Mot. Exclude Ops. Dr. Thames 8–10 [ECF No. 2042]. It was this argument that prompted the design and execution of a new experiment to test the reliability of his cleaning protocol, to buttress the strength and reliability of his prior opinion. Mot. Strike Ex. B, at 1 [ECF No. 2882-2] (“First Supplemental Report”). Ethicon then served the First Supplemental Report with the preliminary conclusions of this experiment on August 8, 2016, and the Second Supplemental Report with the formal conclusions on September 28, 2016. See id. at 1; Mot. Strike Ex. C, at 1 [ECF No. 2882-3] (“Second Supplemental Report”). Both reports were served after the disclosure deadline, motion deadline, and close of discovery. The plaintiffs argue for exclusion under Rule 37(c) on the grounds that the supplemental reports were untimely served. Mot. Strike 2–3. Ethicon does not dispute that the reports were untimely served and responds that its delayed disclosures were justified and harmless. Ethicon focuses its attention on the fivefactor test from Hoyle v. Freightliner, LLC, 650 F.3d 321, 329 (4th Cir. 2011). See generally Resp. II. Analysis Pursuant to Rule 37(c) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, If a party fails to provide information or identify a witness as required by Rule 26(a) or (e), the party is not allowed to use that information or 2 witness to supply evidence on a motion, at a hearing, or at a trial, unless the failure was substantially justified or is harmless. According to the Fourth Circuit, the appropriate factors to consider in determining whether to sanction a party under Rule 37(c) are the following: (1) the surprise to the party against whom the witness was to have testified; (2) the ability of the party to cure that surprise; (3) the extent to which allowing the testimony would disrupt the trial; (4) the explanation for the party's failure to name the witness before trial; and (5) the importance of the testimony. Hoyle, 650 F.3d at 329. I am simply unable to find that Ethicon’s late disclosures of Dr. Thames’s supplemental expert reports were substantially justified. Dr. Thames has a longstanding relationship with Ethicon, and Ethicon has provided no reason why this testing could not have been done prior to the disclosure of the initial expert report. Essentially, because the plaintiffs questioned the reliability of Dr. Thames’s protocol, Ethicon decided to bolster its case by having Dr. Thames perform more testing of the testing. In essence, the supplemental expert reports are atonement for initial inadequacies or incomplete preparation. However, I must also evaluate whether the late disclosures were nevertheless harmless before I can determine whether sanctions are appropriate. The plaintiffs’ arguments support a finding of surprise. Although the plaintiff attacked the adequacy of Dr. Thames’s cleaning protocol in their Daubert motion, they had no reason to suspect that an entirely new test would be performed to rebut their argument of reliability and then disclosed after the discovery deadline had closed. However, both parties have agreed to allow additional time for Daubert 3 briefing should the reports not be excluded. Thus, the ability to cure the surprise weighs in favor of permitting the reports. I recognize that a trial date has not been set in this case, and I also recognize that any harm to the plaintiffs regarding this matter may be easily remedied by allowing them to have additional time to depose Dr. Thames. However, I must be particularly cognizant of the realities of multidistrict litigation and the unique problems an MDL judge faces. Specifically, when handling seven MDLs, each containing thousands of individual cases, case management becomes of utmost importance. See In re Phenylpropanolamine Prods. Liab. Litig., 460 F.3d 1217, 1231 (9th Cir. 2006) (emphasizing the “enormous” task of an MDL court in “figur[ing] out a way to move thousands of cases toward resolution on the merits while at the same time respecting their individuality”). I must define rules for discovery and then strictly adhere to those rules, with the purpose of ensuring that pretrial litigation flows as smoothly and efficiently as possible. See id. at 1232 (“[T]he district judge must establish schedules with firm cutoff dates if the coordinated cases are to move in a diligent fashion toward resolution by motion, settlement, or trial.”); see also Fed. R. Civ. P. 1 (stating that the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure “should be construed and administered to secure the just, speedy, and inexpensive determination of every action and proceeding”). In turn, counsel must collaborate with the court “in fashioning workable programmatic procedures” and cooperate with these procedures thereafter. In re Phenylpropanolamine, 460 F.3d at 1231–32. Pretrial orders—and the parties’ compliance with those orders and the deadlines set forth therein—“are 4 the engine that drives disposition on the merits.” Id. at 1232. A “willingness to resort to sanctions” in the event of noncompliance can ensure that the engine remains in tune, resulting in better administration of the vehicle of multidistrict litigation. Id.; see also Freeman v. Wyeth, 764 F.3d 806, 810 (8th Cir. 2014) (“The MDL judge must be given ‘greater discretion’ to create and enforce deadlines in order to administrate the litigation effectively. This necessarily includes the power to dismiss cases where litigants do not follow the court’s orders.”). The fourth factor, importance of the testimony, also weighs in favor of striking the reports. Both supplemental reports are twelve pages long, whereas the original report is 132 pages long. The testimony contained in the reports does not go to the heart of the case, but instead serves only to enforce the reliability of Dr. Thames’s cleaning protocol. I cannot find that the supplemental reports are crucial to either side’s case. III. Conclusion Accordingly, the plaintiffs’ Motion to Strike the Dr. Shelby F. Thames’s Supplemental Reports or, in the Alternative, for Leave to File a Daubert Motion [ECF No. 2882] is GRANTED. The court DIRECTS the Clerk to send a copy of this Order to counsel of record and any unrepresented party. ENTER: March 28, 2017 5 EXHIBIT A Case  Civil Action Number  Ankenman, Cathleen & John J.  Kowalski, Judith Mary  Hart, Mary Ann & William J.  Schroeder, Carreen & Matthew  Almendarez, Angela M.  Hines, Lynn & Gregory  Rose, Lola  Vandergriff, Debbie & Carl  Eaton, Cynthia & Frank  Aldrich, Jacqueline Marie & Darryl  Higgins, Susan & Bob  McDonald, Maria & Thomas  Glasgow, Carol  Valle, Maritza  Thomas, Mary  Fitzgerald, Alina & Christopher  Boudreau, Linda L. & Charles J.  Simpson, Sherry Gill & Ricky  Watson, Sandra Rosalie & Earl L.  Brady, Victoria Lee & Maurice Joseph  Mickle, Karen  Grayson, Pamela Sue  Pocztowski, Debra  Perry, Mary Lou  Ford, Deborah K. & Donald K. Blowers, Jr.  Brown, Valerie  Blackston, Ossie & John  Martin, Diann & Donald  Schomer, Margaret A.  Smith, Patricia G. & Mark  Cruse, Peggy D.  Raney, Barbara A. & Marcus  Espinoza, Rhondi  Majors, Jennifer A. & Jonathan S.  Flanigan, Iris & Earl David  Gologan, Didina & Alexandru  Burton, Kimberly Lee & Christopher Carl  1  2:12cv00872  2:12cv01323  2:12cv01326  2:12cv01327  2:12cv01329  2:12cv01331  2:12cv01336  2:12cv01342  2:12cv01348  2:12cv01364  2:12cv01365  2:12cv01366  2:12cv01367  2:12cv01368  2:12cv01370  2:12cv01371  2:12cv01373  2:12cv01414  2:12cv01426  2:12cv01428  2:12cv01432  2:12cv01435  2:12cv01470  2:12cv01477  2:12cv01486  2:12cv01489  2:12cv01493  2:12cv01495  2:12cv01497  2:12cv01498  2:12cv01501  2:12cv01507  2:12cv01517  2:12cv01523  2:12cv01524  2:12cv01528  2:12cv01529  Chase, Alvette  McGathey, Elizabeth M.  Ferguson, Teresa  Crews, Lillie Harriet & Wain E.  Spitzner, Bobbie Dianne & James W.  Sanders, Melissa & Charles, Jr.  Amidei, Betty  Childress, Sandra & Timothy  Cottrell, Teresa & Joe Palazzolo  Harper, Kathy  Wilson, Marcia & Robert  Rasos, Katherine  Walkingstick, Margaret Christine  Smythia, Rebecca  Smith, Andora  Lindberg, Patricia & Carl  Perez, Leezel & Jeffrey  Cole, Phyllis Smith & Willie Ray  Guffey, Gail  Hatfield, Nona & Billy Ray  Moore, Phyllis  Cooper, Jennifer & Dave  Carter, Tamara & David  Smallwood, Nancy & Leon, Sr.  Glenn, Rhonda & Era Fox, III  Allen, Diana & Timothy  Fleck, Jean E.  Lenz, Debera & Robert  Mooney, Konnie L. & James  Miller, Mona  Bailey, Pamela & Houston  Cedeno, Joyce  Colbert, Rhonda & Joseph  Hoch, Susan & Christopher  Johnson, Cynthia & Robert  Meyer, Linda & Steve  Muir, Marilyn & Scott  Shelton, Mary & Frank  Shennum, Janice  Swanson, Karen & Thomas  Parker, Belinda  2:12cv01533  2:12cv01538  2:12cv01544  2:12cv01549  2:12cv01552  2:12cv01562  2:12cv01563  2:12cv01564  2:12cv01565  2:12cv01567  2:12cv01568  2:12cv01599  2:12cv01616  2:12cv01622  2:12cv01623  2:12cv01637  2:12cv01640  2:12cv01645  2:12cv01650  2:12cv01657  2:12cv01659  2:12cv01660  2:12cv01661  2:12cv01662  2:12cv01663  2:12cv01676  2:12cv01681  2:12cv01692  2:12cv01695  2:12cv01696  2:12cv01700  2:12cv01701  2:12cv01702  2:12cv01703  2:12cv01704  2:12cv01705  2:12cv01706  2:12cv01707  2:12cv01708  2:12cv01709  2:12cv01710  2    Hutchison, Deanna Gail  Suter, Carol Ann & Troy W.  Denton, Shirley & Marvin  Frazier, Margaret & William Allen  Raines, Myra & Kenneth  Rhodes, Rebecca & Scott  Sidwell, Loretta & Jimmy  Williamson, Betty & Donald  Gibson, Susan & Michael  Savage, Stacey D. & Ebbie E. Ferrell  Blevins, Vickie Lea & Robert Oliver  Slade, Sebrina & Eric  Paris, Christin & Michael  Young, Tina L. & Jeffrey  Patrick, Lottie M. & John D.  Lane, Ann Jennette & Daniel Mark  Cutter, Jenesta & Larry A.  Burnett, Mary K.  Heuer, Myra  Hammett, Carolyn R.  Brookman, Lesley Mitchell & Michael  Merten, Janet & Gerard  Zutovsky, Linda & Leonard  Sierra, Ana & Luis  Hemingway, Veda & Gary  Strickland, Deborah J. & Matthew  Guy, Sheryl C.  Gray, Wanda  Abell, Emily S. & Michael K.  Bishop, Cheryl L.  Symank, Bernie & Herman  Franklin, Betty  Gallehugh, Michelle & Ronnie  Parton, Lori Anne Copeland, Executrix of  the Estate of Sue Bilbrey Copeland,  deceased  Peterson, Winnie Elise  Jernigan, Joan E. & Fred T.  Luna, Tracy L.  Hays, Brenda & Roger  Sutton, Martha  Hensley, Mary M.  3    2:12cv01711  2:12cv01712  2:12cv01719  2:12cv01731  2:12cv01735  2:12cv01736  2:12cv01737  2:12cv01739  2:12cv01740  2:12cv01743  2:12cv01746  2:12cv01753  2:12cv01759  2:12cv01772  2:12cv01776  2:12cv01785  2:12cv01790  2:12cv01795  2:12‐cv‐01796  2:12cv01802  2:12cv01803  2:12cv01817  2:12cv01818  2:12cv01819  2:12cv01829  2:12cv01830  2:12cv01831  2:12cv01832  2:12cv01833  2:12cv01834  2:12cv01836  2:12cv01837  2:12cv01838  2:12cv01848  2:12cv01849  2:12cv01850  2:12cv01853  2:12cv01855  2:12cv01857  2:12cv01858  Bowles, Phyllis & Charles  Rogers, Ruby G. & Dwayne L.  Irwin, Priscilla A. & Daniel S.  Dycus, Myrtle Frances  Henry, Lana & Phillip Dean  Garland, Marian  Young‐Poole, Brenda  Riggs, Donna & Gary  Zapata, Sandra  Slocumb, Kathryn  Hughes, Brenda L. & Ronnie  Poole, Cheryl & Kenneth  Devoe, Debra & Randy  Moon, Carolyn  Covington‐Branker, Barbara M. & Brian B.  Cope, Michele A. & Barry  Deforrest, Patricia Ann & John H.  Cambre, Terri L.  Trimper, Carolyn S.  West, Peggy Sue & Larry R.  Phillips, Eleanor F. & John R.  Higgins, Anna R.  Brennon, Rebecca J.  Carr, Gwendolyn N. & Rundell D.  Bates, Diane  Bowers, Betty Jean  Beard, Gavie & Kenneth  Carroll, Margaret  Gullett, Brenda & Carl  Maddox, Brenda  Martin, Phyllis  Peterson, Tracy & Kevin  Reed, Deborah F. & Dale K.  Chrysler, Marion  Heddle, Bridget  Pratt, Cathy  Hernandez, Toni  Dawson, Kristen  Daugherty, Angela & Jimmy  Marshall, Natalie C. & David R.  Hand, Wanda M. & Charles W.  4    2:12cv01865  2:12cv01877  2:12cv01878  2:12cv01879  2:12cv01938  2:12cv01939  2:12cv01962  2:12cv01967  2:12cv01972  2:12cv01974  2:12cv01976  2:12cv01978  2:12cv01979  2:12cv01980  2:12cv01983  2:12cv01984  2:12cv01985  2:12cv01986  2:12cv01987  2:12cv01988  2:12cv01989  2:12cv01990  2:12cv01995  2:12cv01996  2:12cv02020  2:12cv02022  2:12cv02025  2:12cv02026  2:12cv02027  2:12cv02028  2:12cv02029  2:12cv02030  2:12cv02059  2:12cv02060  2:12cv02071  2:12cv02072  2:12cv02073  2:12cv02074  2:12cv02076  2:12cv02077  2:12cv02079  Burns‐Martin, Dayna & Kevin  Brady, Deborah D.  Hicks, Shannon H. & James D.  McClain, Barbara Sue  Roberts, Brenda C. & Dwight  Clay, Crystal Lynn  Wilson, Tina  Scott, Teresa  Bishop, Jessie  Whinery, Joyce  Nelson, Kathryn M.  Loomis, Barbara & Dighton  Minogue, Bridgette  Doucette, Karen L.  Dunham, Lynne & David  Ursini, Tara  Anderson, Elaine  Crabtree, Reba & Jack  Lary, Sheryl & Kevin E.  Manor, Kristy & John E., III  Maxwell, Bonnie  Lewis, Marlene  Messina, Laritza & John  Morrison, Laura  Panske‐Phillips, Emma & Luther Y., Jr.  Phillips, Ramona  Pitts, Michelle  Green, Janice  Pippin, Laura & Donald  Bihlmeyer, Donna & Joe  Semere, Yvonne  Hreiz, Amy Elizabeth & Adel Elias  Villarreal, Katherine & Carlos  Ogletree, Linda J. & John A.  Partin, Patricia Graham  Pageau, Tina Marie  Lambert, Corrie Ann & Ronson  Martin, Patricia J. & Dennis R., Sr.  Miller, Rose M.  Pieper, Laura & Mike  Pridmore, Hope Elaine & James O.  2:12cv02081  2:12‐cv‐02086  2:12cv02094  2:12cv02095  2:12cv02096  2:12cv02097  2:12cv02099  2:12cv02100  2:12cv02101  2:12cv02102  2:12cv02103  2:12cv02104  2:12cv02112  2:12cv02125  2:12cv02131  2:12cv02132  2:12cv02134  2:12cv02135  2:12cv02136  2:12cv02137  2:12cv02138  2:12cv02139  2:12cv02140  2:12cv02141  2:12cv02142  2:12cv02143  2:12cv02144  2:12cv02148  2:12cv02152  2:12cv02159  2:12cv02160  2:12cv02165  2:12cv02167  2:12cv02168  2:12cv02179  2:12cv02180  2:12cv02183  2:12cv02185  2:12cv02187  2:12cv02189  2:12cv02190  5   

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