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Friday, December 24, 2010

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit issued one Indiana ruling yesterday; and an opinion of general interest re federal preemption and common law claims

In U.S. v. Dortch (ND Ind. Lozano), an 8-page opinion, Judge Manion writes:

Kevin Dortch robbed a bank in Munster, Indiana, and then led police on two highspeed chases through the nearby residential neighborhoods. He eventually pleaded guilty and was sentenced to the statutory maximum of 240 months’ imprisonment. He appeals only his sentence. We affirm.
In Bausch v. Stryker Corp. (ND Ill), a 33-page opinion, Judge Hamilton writes:
This diversity jurisdiction case presents issues concerning federal preemption and sufficient pleading of a plaintiff’s claim that she has been injured by a medical device—a hip replacement— allegedly manufactured in violation of federal law. Plaintiff Margaret J. Bausch appeals the district court’s dismissal of her case against defendants Stryker Corporation, HOC, and Stryker Ireland, Ltd. (collectively “Stryker”), who have manufactured, distributed, and sold the Trident-brand ceramic-on-ceramic hip replacement system (“the Trident”) in the United States since 2003. The Trident is a Class III medical device under federal law, the class of devices that are most critical to human health and subject to the most extensive federal regulation.

Bausch alleged that the defendants violated federal law in manufacturing the Trident. The device was implanted in her body six days after the United States Food and Drug Administration informed the defendants that a component of the Trident hip system was “adulterated” and that the companies’ manufacturing processes failed to comply with federal standards. The Trident implanted in Bausch failed, requiring surgical removal and replacement of the product and leading to a host of serious and painful medical problems. The defendants later recalled a component of the Trident bearing the same catalogue number as the one that had been implanted in Bausch’s body. Bausch brought this suit under Illinois common law for negligence and strict liability for a defective product.

The district court granted defendants’ motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, holding that Bausch’s common law claims were preempted by federal law. In an unusual step, the district court did not allow plaintiff a requested opportunity to amend her complaint, but immediately entered final judgment dismissing the action with prejudice. The district court then denied Bausch’s motion to vacate the judgment and for leave to file an amended complaint.

We conclude that the district court erred. Bausch’s claims that she was injured by defendants’ alleged violations of federal law are not preempted. Her original complaint should not have been dismissed. Even if the original complaint had been defective, the district court abused its discretion by dismissing the action with prejudice and denying Bausch leave to file an amended complaint. We address first the preemption issue and then the pleading issues. * * *

For the foregoing reasons, we REVERSE the judgment of the district court dismissing Bausch’s suit and denying her the opportunity to file an amended complaint, and we REMAND for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on December 24, 2010 10:44 AM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions