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Smith v. C. R. Bard, Inc.

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

February 5, 2018

SANDRA SMITH, Plaintiff,
v.
C. R. BARD, INC., Defendant.

          MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER (DEFENDANT'S MOTION FOR SUMMARY JUDGMENT)

          JOSEPR R. GOODWIN UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Pending before the court is the Motion for Summary Judgment [ECF No. 28] filed by defendant C. R. Bard, Inc. (“Bard”). The plaintiff has responded [ECF No. 32], and Bard has replied [ECF No. 34]. Thus, the Motion is ripe for adjudication. As set forth below, the Motion is GRANTED in part and DENIED in part.

         I. Background

         This action involves a Utah plaintiff who was implanted with the Align TO Urethral Support System, a mesh product manufactured by Bard, on September 18, 2009, in Melrose Park, Illinois. Short Form Compl. ¶¶ 1-12 [ECF No. 1]. This case resides in one of seven MDLs assigned to me by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”) 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 24, 000 cases currently pending, approximately 3000 of which are in the C. R. Bard, Inc. MDL, MDL No. 2187.

         In an effort to manage the massive Bard MDL efficiently and effectively, the court decided to conduct pretrial discovery and motions practice on an individualized basis. To this end, I ordered the plaintiffs and defendants to submit a joint list of remaining cases in the Bard MDL, MDL 2187, with claims against Bard and other defendants where counsel has at least twenty cases in the Bard MDL. The list included nearly 3, 000 cases. From these cases, I selected 332 cases to become part of a “wave” of cases to be prepared for trial and, if necessary, remanded. See Pretrial Order No. 244, In re C. R. Bard, Inc., Pelvic Repair Sys. Prods. Liab. Litig., No. 2:10- md-02187, Mar. 3, 2017, https://www.wvsd.uscourts.gov/MDL/2187/orders.html. Upon the creation of a wave, a docket control order subjects each active case in the wave to the same scheduling deadlines, rules regarding motion practice, and limitations on discovery. I selected the instant civil action as a Wave 5 case.

         II. Legal Standards

         A. Summary Judgment

         To 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 “party seeking summary judgment always bears the initial responsibility of informing the district court of the basis for its motion, and identifying those portions of the pleadings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, and admissions on file, together with the affidavits, if any, which it believes demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact.” Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 323 (1986). To discharge this burden, the moving party may produce an affidavit to demonstrate the absence of a genuine issue of material fact. See Id. The moving party, however, is not required to do so and may discharge this burden “by ‘showing'-that is, pointing out to the district court-that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case.” Id. at 325; see also Pumphrey v. C.R. Bard, Inc., 906 F.Supp. 334, 336 (N.D. W.Va. 1995). If the moving party sufficiently points out to the court those portions of the record that show that there is an absence of evidence to support the nonmoving party's case, the burden shifts to the nonmoving party to come forward with record evidence establishing a genuine issue of material fact. Pollard v. United States, 166 Fed.Appx. 674, 678 (4th Cir. 2006) (citing Celotex, Corp., 477 U.S. at 325).

         Should the burden shift, the nonmoving party 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. 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. Id. at 252. Likewise, conclusory allegations or unsupported speculations, 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. 1997). Summary judgment is therefore appropriate when, after adequate time for discovery, the moving party first discharges the initial burden and then the nonmoving party does not make a showing sufficient to establish a genuine issue of material fact. Celotex Corp., 477 U.S. at 322-23.

         B. Choice of Law

         The parties agree that Illinois choice-of-law principles apply to this case and that these principles compel the application of Illinois substantive law to the plaintiff's claims.

         Under 28 U.S.C. § 1407, this court has authority to rule on pretrial motions in MDL cases. The choice of law for these pretrial motions depends on whether they concern 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 ...

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