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Dahl v. C. R. Bard, Inc.

United States District Court, S.D. West Virginia, Charleston Division

March 21, 2017

DIANNE D. DAHL, Plaintiff,
v.
C. R. BARD, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

          JOSEPH R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         Pending before the court are all remaining pretrial motions. All are ripe for adjudication.

         I. Background

         This 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 7, 000 of which are in the Bard MDL, MDL 2187. In an effort to efficiently and effectively manage this 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. 2:10-md-2187 [ECF No. 729]. This selection process was completed twice, creating two waves of 100 cases, Wave 1 and Wave 2. Thereafter, I entered orders on subsequent waves. Ms. Dahl's case was selected as a Wave 2 case by the plaintiffs. PTO # 118, No. 2:10-md-2187 [ECF No. 841].

         II. Legal Standards

         a. Summary Judgment

         To obtain summary judgment, “the movant must show that there is no genuine dispute as to any material fact and that the movant is entitled to judgment as a matter of law.” Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In turn, to avoid summary judgment, the nonmovant must offer some “concrete evidence from which a reasonable juror could return a verdict” in his or her favor. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 256 (1986).

         b. Choice of Law

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1407, this court has authority to rule on pretrial motions in MDL cases. To determine the applicable state law for a dispositive motion, the court generally refers to the choice-of-law rules of the jurisdiction where the plaintiff first filed her claim. See In re Air Disaster at Ramstein Air Base, Ger., 81 F.3d 570, 576 (5th Cir. 1996); In re Air Crash Disaster Near Chi., Ill., 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, 2010).

         This case was originally filed in the United States District Court for the District of Minnesota. Therefore, I use Minnesota's choice-of-law rules to determine which state's law to apply to this case. The parties agree, as does the court, that these principles compel application of Wisconsin law to the plaintiff's claims. Minnesota focuses on two factors in resolving choice-of-law issues: (1) the maintenance of interstate order and (2) the advancement of the forum state's interest. See In re Baycol Prods. Litig., 218 F.R.D. 197, 207 (D. Minn. 2003) (stating that only two factors in Minnesota's usual five-factor test apply to the resolution of choice-of-law issues arising under tort law) (citing Nodak Mut. Ins. Co. v. Am. Family Mut. Ins. Co., 604 N.W.2d 91, 94-96 (Minn. 2000)). With respect to the first factor, the court should look to the state with “the most significant contacts with the facts relevant to the litigation.” Id. Here, that state is Wisconsin, where the plaintiff resides and underwent implantation surgery. The second factor, which requires the court to consider “the state law in which the plaintiff lives and in which the injury occurred, ” also weighs in favor of applying Wisconsin law. See, e.g., In re Baycol, 218 F.R.D. at 207 (“[A]s the injury occurred in the state of plaintiff's residence, the substantive law of the state of plaintiff's residence should be applied to their claims.”); Foster v. St. Jude Med., Inc., 229 F.R.D. 599, 605 (D. Minn. 2005) (“[P]roper consideration of Minnesota's choice-of-law factors reveals that the law of the state where the [d]evice was implanted would apply to Plaintiffs' [products liability] claims.”). Accordingly, Wisconsin substantive law governs this case.

         c. Daubert Motions - Specific Causation

         Expert testimony is admissible if the expert is qualified and if his or her expert testimony is reliable and relevant. Fed.R.Evid. 702; see also Daubert v. Merrell Dow Pharm., Inc., 509 U.S. 579 (1993). An expert may be qualified to offer expert testimony based on his or her “knowledge, skill, experience, training, or education.” Fed.R.Evid. 702.

         In the context of specific causation expert opinions, the Fourth Circuit has held that “a reliable differential diagnosis provides a valid foundation for an expert opinion.” Westberry v. Gislaved Gummi AB, 178 F.3d 257, 262-63 (4th Cir. 1999). “A differential diagnosis that fails to take serious account of other potential causes may be so lacking that it cannot provide a reliable basis for an opinion on causation.” Id. at 265. However, an expert's causation opinions will not be excluded “because he or she has failed to rule out every possible alternative cause of a plaintiff's illness.” Id. At bottom, the court has broad discretion to determine whether expert testimony should be admitted or excluded. Cooper v. Smith & Nephew, Inc., 259 F.3d 194, 200 (4th Cir. 2001).

         III. ...


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