(CN) – The nation’s high court on Tuesday let stand a ruling allowing 123 women and relatives to sue Pfizer and in Minnesota court over hormone replacement treatments that allegedly gave the women breast cancer.
The Supreme Court turned down the drug maker’s appeal of an 8th Circuit ruling allowing women who developed breast cancer, and the relatives of women who died from breast cancer, to sue Pfizer and other drug makers in Minnesota state court. The plaintiffs claimed that they or someone they knew developed breast cancer from taking hormone replacement treatments for menopause symptoms.
A federal judge dismissed the claims of 116 of the 123 plaintiffs, saying they improperly joined their claims simply to avoid having the case removed to federal court.
A lawsuit filed in state court can be removed to federal court if the case involves more than $75,000, and no plaintiffs or defendants are located in the same state, a concept known as “complete diversity of citizenship.”
The judge dismissed 116 plaintiffs on the theory of “fraudulent misjoinder,” in which plaintiffs intentionally add litigants who will defeat diversity jurisdiction.
The federal appeals court reversed, saying the drug maker failed to prove that the plaintiffs were “egregiously misjoined.” The three-judge panel allowed them to sue in Minnesota court, a decision Pfizer and several other pharmaceutical companies appealed to the Supreme Court.
The high court declined Pfizer’s appeal without comment.
The case is Wyeth v. Kirkland, 10-222.