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Court Bars Out-of-State Oxycontin Lawsuits

(CN) - Oxycontin lawsuits filed in New York by out-of-state plaintiffs should have been dismissed, a New York appeals court ruled.

Richmond County Supreme Court denied a motion from Purdue Pharma and the other defendants in February 2009 to drop Oxycontin personal injury lawsuits filed by out-of-state residents. Justices for the second department appellate division in Brooklyn reversed the county court's decision.

At the time the appeal was filed, there were 246 Oxycontin personal injury actions pending in Richmond County on behalf of nonresident plaintiffs and only 29 pending on behalf of residents. More actions have been commenced since the start of the appeal, according to the appellate ruling.

In the first wave of Oxycontin lawsuits, 924 of 1,117 personal injury actions commenced and settled in New York State were not filed by New York residents. A Long Island law firm advertises for plaintiffs who suffered injuries after taking the highly addictive opioid analgesic drug.

"There is no significant dispute that the Oxycontin involved was not manufactured in New York, and the defendant's corporate offices are not located in this state," according to the appellate ruling. "None of the nonresident plaintiffs purchased Oxycontin in New York, none ingested the drug here and, importantly, none received treatment for alleged resulting injuries in this state."

The appellate court ruled to exclude the nonresident lawsuits because Purdue would face difficulties in trying to subpoena out-of-state nonparty witnesses.

"Inasmuch as the hundreds of nonresident plaintiffs come from almost all of the 50 states and Puerto Rico, should New York courts retain those cases, they might well be called on to apply different principles of law to identical claims," they added.

The appellate justices added that Purdue must enter into a stipulation so to ensure the availability of a forum for the claims of the nonresident plaintiffs.

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