Now in Legal Rebels:
Posted Jun 16, 2011 04:54 pm CDT
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a federal court had no authority to bar a state-court class action claiming injury from the cholesterol drug Baycol.
The Supreme Court found that the federal court considering consolidated Baycol claims had exceeded its authority under the Anti-Injunction Act. Justice Elena Kagan wrote the opinion (PDF) that was unanimous save for one section.
The federal court in Minnesota had refused to certify a federal class action alleging Baycol injuries suffered by West Virginia plaintiffs, then enjoined a separate Baycol class action pending in state court in West Virginia. The federal court had reasoned the injunction would prevent relitigation of the same issues it had already decided, but its order exceeded its authority, Kagan wrote.
Kagan cited two reasons. First, the issues in the state case were not identical to those in the federal case. Second, the state court did not have the needed connection to the federal suit to be bound by the federal judgment. The plaintiffs in the two suits were not identical, she wrote in a section of her opinion that was not joined by Justice Clarence Thomas.
The defendant, Bayer AG, withdrew Baycol from the market in 2001 after it was linked to a sometimes-fatal muscle breakdown disorder, Bloomberg News reports. Courthouse News Service and Thomson Reuters News & Insight also have coverage of the Supreme Court decision.