Saturday, July 13, 2013
Nineteen plaintiff families filed a single complaint against Pfizer and other pharmaceutical companies in state court in West Virginia, alleging that Zoloft caused birth defects to children born of women ingesting it. Only one of the plaintiff families was nondiverse from the defendants. A West Virginia state rule required each family to be docketed separately and to pay a separate filing fee, but did not required them to fiile separate complaints.
The pharmaceutical companies removed eighteen of the nineteen families to federal court, alleging diversity jurisdiction. The district court remanded, holding that the action was really one civil action lacking complete diversity, and that the one nondiverse family was not fraudulently joined.
The Fourth Circuit held that the remand order was within the scope of 28 U.S.C. 1447(c) because it was based on the district court's lack of subject matter jurisdiction. Therefore, the remand order was not reviewable on appeal under 28 U.S.C. 1447(d).
Retired Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, sitting by designation, joined the opinion. E.D. v. Pfizer, No. 12-2188 (4th Cir. July 12, 2013).
Friday, July 12, 2013
The Atlantic online has posted an essay entitled "How the Sequester is Holding up Our Legal System" by Andrew Cohen. It describes federal judges' concerns about issues raised if the budget cuts reach into the next fiscal year. "The sequester . . . represents an assault by the legislative and executive branches upon core judicial functions. . . . The Administrative Office of the United States already has indicated that it may be forced to eliminate civil jury trials in the month of September . . ."
The essay also describes public apathy about the issue.
Hat tip: Howard Bashman, @howappealing.
Thursday, July 11, 2013
Erin A. O'Hara O'Connor and Christoper R. Drahozal have posted on SSRN their article, "Carve-Outs and Contractual Procedure."
The burgeoning literature on private contractual choice of procedure has run up against a difficult empirical reality: the available empirical evidence reveals surprisingly little use of customized procedural rules in contracts between sophisticated parties. One likely reason for so little customization is that contractual relationships entail multiple risks, and it is very difficult to specify customized procedures that would optimally handle all potential disputes. In this article, we identify and analyze an alternative mechanism by which procedural customization commonly takes place in contracts: the use of carve-outs from arbitration. A carve-out is a contract provision by which the parties exclude (or carve out) certain claims or remedies from their arbitration clause. Carve-outs are a mechanism by which parties choose between court and arbitral bundles of procedures on a claim-by-claim basis. The claim-based choice makes more sense in that it enables the parties to choose procedures tailored to individual contractual risks. With such clauses, parties are able to obtain a more carefully calibrated procedural customization than provided by an arbitration clause or forum selection clause alone, but at a much lower overall cost than they would incur by attempting to develop customized procedural rules. This article sets out a model of the decision to use carve-outs and provides a detailed empirical examination of their use. Our analysis has a number of implications for the continued necessity of courts and their governing legal rules, the legal enforceability of carve-outs, and court treatment of the severability of claims from arbitration clauses more generally.