United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division
MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (Defendant's Motion
for Summary Judgment)
R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE
before the court are defendant C. R. Bard's
(“Bard”) Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF
No. 53] and Bard's Motion for Partial Summary Judgment on
Punitive Damages [ECF No. 55]. As set forth below, Bard's
Motion for Partial Summary Judgment [ECF No. 53] is
GRANTED as it pertains to the
plaintiffs' claims for manufacturing defect, breach of
implied warranty, breach of express warranty, negligence, and
failure to warn. Additionally, Bard's Motion for Partial
Summary Judgment on Punitive Damages [ECF No. 55] is
case resides in one of seven MDLs assigned to me by the
Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation concerning the use
of transvaginal surgical mesh to treat pelvic organ prolapse
(“POP”) and stress urinary incontinence
(“SUI”). In the seven MDLs, there are more than
58, 000 cases currently pending, approximately 8, 000 of
which are in the Bard MDL, MDL 2187. In an effort to
efficiently and effectively manage this massive MDL, I
decided to conduct pretrial discovery and motions practice on
an individualized basis so that once a case is trial-ready
(that is, after the court has ruled on all Daubert
motions and summary judgment motions, among other things), it
can then be promptly transferred or remanded to the
appropriate district for trial. To this end, I ordered the
plaintiffs and defendant to each select 50 cases, which would
then become part of a “wave” of cases to be
prepared for trial and, if necessary, remanded. See
Pretrial Order (“PTO”) # 102, No. 2:12-md-2187
[ECF No. 729]. This selection process was completed twice,
creating two waves of 100 cases, Wave 1 and Wave 2. Ms.
Hartzo's case was selected as a Wave 2 case by the
plaintiffs. PTO # 118, No. 2:12-md-2187 [ECF No. 841].
Hartzo was surgically implanted with the Align TO Urethral
Support System (the “Align”) by Dr. James
Robertson at WK Bossier Health Center in Bossier City,
Louisiana. Am. Short Form Compl. ¶¶ 9-13 [ECF No.
27]. As a result of complications allegedly caused by the
Align, the plaintiffs bring the following claims against
Bard: strict liability for design defect, manufacturing
defect, and failure to warn; negligence; breaches of express
and implied warranties; loss of consortium; and punitive
damages. Id. at ¶ 14. Bard moves for partial
summary judgment on the grounds that the plaintiffs'
claims are either without evidentiary support or not
cognizable under Louisiana law. Mem. Supp. Mot. Summ. J. 1
[ECF No. 54].
obtain summary judgment, the moving party must show that
there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that
the moving party is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.
Fed. R. Civ. P. 56(a). In considering a motion for
summary judgment, the court will not “weigh the
evidence and determine the truth of the matter.”
Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 249
(1986). Instead, the court will draw any permissible
inference from the underlying facts in the light most
favorable to the nonmoving party. Matsushita Elec. Indus.
Co. v. Zenith Radio Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 587-88 (1986).
the court will view all underlying facts and inferences in
the light most favorable to the nonmoving party, the
nonmoving party nonetheless must offer some “concrete
evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict
in his [or her] favor.” Anderson, 477 U.S. at
256. Summary judgment is appropriate when the nonmoving party
has the burden of proof on an essential element of his or her
case and does not make, after adequate time for discovery, a
showing sufficient to establish that element. Celotex
Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 322-23 (1986). The
nonmoving party must satisfy this burden of proof by offering
more than a mere “scintilla of evidence” in
support of his or her position. Anderson, 477 U.S.
at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or unsupported
speculation, without more, are insufficient to preclude the
granting of a summary judgment motion. See Dash v.
Mayweather, 731 F.3d 303, 311 (4th Cir. 2013); Stone
v. Liberty Mut. Ins. Co., 105 F.3d 188, 191 (4th Cir.
Choice of Law
28 U.S.C. § 1407, this court has authority to rule on
pretrial motions in MDL cases such as this. The choice of law
for these pretrial motions depends on whether they involve
federal or state law. “When analyzing questions of
federal law, the transferee court should apply the law of the
circuit in which it is located. When considering questions of
state law, however, the transferee court must apply the state
law that would have applied to the individual cases had they
not been transferred for consolidation.” In re
Temporomandibular Joint (TMJ) Implants Prods. Liab.
Litig., 97 F.3d 1050, 1055 (8th Cir. 1996) (internal
citations omitted). In cases based on diversity jurisdiction,
the choice-of-law rules to be used are those of the states
where the actions were originally filed. See In re Air
Disaster at Ramstein Air Base, Ger., 81 F.3d 570, 576
(5th Cir. 1996) (“Where a transferee court presides
over several diversity actions consolidated under the
multidistrict rules, the choice of law rules of each
jurisdiction in which the transferred actions were originally
filed must be applied.”); In re Air Crash Disaster
Near Chi., III., 644 F.2d 594, 610 (7th Cir. 1981);
In re Digitek Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No.
2:08-md-01968, 2010 WL 2102330, at *7 (S.D. W.Va. May 25,
plaintiff files her claim directly into the MDL in the
Southern District of West Virginia, however, as Ms. Hartzo
did in this case, I consult the choice-of-law rules of the
state in which the plaintiff was implanted with the product.
See Sanchez v. Boston Scientific Corp., No.
2:12-cv-05762, 2014 WL 202787, at *4 (S.D. W.Va.Jan. 17,
2014) (“For cases that originate elsewhere and are
directly filed into the MDL, I will follow the
better-reasoned authority that applies the choice-of-law
rules of the originating jurisdiction, which in our case is
the state in which the plaintiff was implanted with the
product.”). Ms. Hartzo received the implantation
surgery for the Align in Louisiana. Thus, the choice-of-law
principles of Louisiana guide this court's choice-of-law
parties agree that these principles compel application of
Louisiana law. Under Louisiana law, a tort claim “is
governed by the law of the state whose policies would be most
seriously impaired if its laws were not applied” to the
claim. La. Civ. Code Ann. art. 3542 (listing factors such as
place of injury, residence of parties, and nature of
relationship between parties to determine the appropriate
state law). The plaintiffs are residents of Louisiana, Ms.
Hartzo was implanted with the product at issue in Louisiana,
and her alleged injuries and follow-up care occurred in
Louisiana. Accordingly, I will apply Louisiana's
substantive law to the claims in this case.