Tuesday, August 30, 2016
Yesterday the California Supreme Court issued a 4-to-3 decision in Bristol-Myers Squibb Company v. Superior Court, upholding personal jurisdiction in California over pharma company Bristol-Myers Squibb. From the introduction:
Bristol Myers Squibb Company (BMS), a pharmaceutical manufacturer, conducts significant business and research activities in California but is neither incorporated nor headquartered here. In March 2012, eight separate amended complaints were filed in San Francisco Superior Court by or on behalf of 678 individuals, consisting of 86 California residents and 592 nonresidents, all of whom allegedly were prescribed and ingested Plavix, a drug created and marketed by BMS, and as a result suffered adverse consequences. BMS contests the propriety of a California court’s exercising personal jurisdiction over it for purposes of adjudicating the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims.
*** Although BMS’s business contacts in California are insufficient to invoke general jurisdiction, which permits the exercise of jurisdiction over a defendant regardless of the subject of the litigation, we conclude the company’s California activities are sufficiently related to the nonresident plaintiffs’ suits to support the invocation of specific jurisdiction, under which personal jurisdiction is limited to specific litigation related to the defendant’s state contacts.
The three dissenters argued that the nonresident plaintiffs’ claims lacked a sufficient relationship to BMS’s California contacts to justify specific jurisdiction.