(CN) – Four nearly identical drug-related personal injury lawsuits involving Bayer Corp. do not need to be joined into one class action suit, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled.
Plaintiffs’ counsel filed claims against Bayer in St. Clair County, Ill., on behalf of 158 plaintiffs alleging injury after taking the drug Trasylol during heart surgery. The claims were split into five nearly identical complaints in order to avoid class action status and federal jurisdiction.
Bayer Corp. removed the case to the Southern Illinois District Court, which rejected the argument that the cases should be treated as a single action. One case was not remanded because it involved 100 plaintiffs, giving it federal jurisdiction under the Class Action Fairness Act (“CAFA”).
Defendant Bayer Corp. appealed, claiming that plaintiffs cannot divide the cases into separate, identical pleadings in order to avoid federal jurisdiction.
The 7th Circuit concluded that class action laws intended to allow plaintiffs to divide cases in order to choose where they are heard.
The court also said that cases do not meet the act’s definition of a mass action.
“Congress appears to have foreseen the situation presented in this case and specifically decided the issue in the plaintiffs’ favor,” Circuit Judge Joel Flaum said.
The court upheld the decision to remand the cases, which will be heard individually in St. Clair County.