(CN) – The 8th Circuit upheld an order barring Baycol users in West Virginia from trying to certify in state court a class action demanding refunds based on the cholesterol-reducing drug’s link to a severe and potentially fatal muscle disorder. Baycol was yanked from the market in August 2001, after it was linked to 31 deaths.
That same month, Baycol users filed a class action in state court in West Virginia against drug makers Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline. The lead plaintiff had not experienced any health problems from Baycol, so he sued for economic damages instead, alleging breach of warranty and violations of the West Virginia Consumer Credit and Protection Act.
The case was removed to district court and later combined with other class actions in a multidistrict litigation court.
The judge presiding over the nationwide refund action denied class certification, saying the plaintiffs “would have to demonstrate that they were either injured by Baycol, or that Baycol did not provide them any health benefits,” so their claims weren’t similar enough to proceed as a class.
Not long after, two other Baycol users sought certification of a West Virginia economic class action in state court.
Bayer asked a federal judge to bar the plaintiffs from rehashing the certification issue in state court. The district court complied, issuing an injunction.
A three-judge panel in St. Louis upheld the order, saying the federal court’s ruling barred any motion for class certification in state court.
Judge Diana Murphy pointed out that the plaintiffs can still appeal or pursue their claims individually.
“These safeguards satisfy due process and are sufficient to bind them in personam to the district court’s certification decision,” Murphy wrote.