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Segovia v. Bristol-Meyers Squibb Co.

United States District Court, D. Hawaii

November 30, 2016

PATRICIA SEGOVIA, INDIVIDUALLY and as PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE ESTATE OF THOMAS SEGOVIA, SR., DECEASED, Plaintiff,
v.
BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB COMPANY and PFIZER, INC., Defendants.

          ORDER GRANTING DEFENDANTS BRISTOL-MYERS SQUIBB COMPANY AND PFIZER INC.'S MOTION TO STAY

          Derrick K. Watson United States District Judge

         INTRODUCTION

         Defendants Bristol-Myers Squibb Company (“BMS”) and Pfizer Inc. seek to stay this case, pending a decision by the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“JPML”) on Defendants' Motion For Transfer Of Related Eliquis (Apixaban) Products Liability Actions For Coordinated Pretrial Proceedings Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407 (“MDL Motion”). Dkt. No. 51-3. Because the balance of pertinent factors weighs in favor of Defendants' request - notably, the conservation of judicial resources, the potential for conflicting decisions, and the absence of prejudice to Plaintiff - the Motion to Stay is GRANTED.[1]

         BACKGROUND

         Plaintiff Patricia Segovia (“Plaintiff”), individually and on behalf of the estate of her deceased husband, Thomas Segovia (“Segovia”), alleges that Segovia died as a result of taking Eliquis, an anti-coagulant developed by BMS and Pfizer. The Court previously granted Plaintiff leave to file a Second Amended Complaint, see Dkt. No. 40, which Plaintiff filed on May 12, 2016. Dkt. No. 41. On June 6, 2016, Defendants filed a Motion to Dismiss Fraud Claims In Plaintiff's Second Amended Complaint, see Dkt. No. 44, and the Court heard oral argument on that motion on October 14, 2016. Dkt. No. 50.

         On October 13, 2016, Defendants filed a Notice of Filing of their MDL Motion before the JPML, pursuant to Panel Rule 6.2. Dkt. No. 49. The MDL Motion requests that thirty-four related actions, including this case, be consolidated in the United States District Court for the Southern District of New York for coordinated pretrial proceedings, pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1407. The present Motion to Stay followed on October 19, 2016. Dkt. No. 51. Defendants request a stay of all proceedings until thirty days after a ruling by the JPML on their MDL Motion. Plaintiff opposes any stay and plans to oppose creation of an MDL in the Eliquis cases.

         DISCUSSION

         I. Legal Framework

         “[T]he power to stay proceedings is incidental to the power inherent in every court to control disposition of the cases on its docket with economy of time and effort for itself, for counsel, and for litigants.” Landis v. N. Am. Co., 299 U.S. 248, 254 (1936). “The exertion of this power calls for the exercise of sound discretion.” CMAX, Inc. v. Hall, 300 F.2d 265, 268 (9th Cir. 1962); see Clinton v. Jones, 520 U.S. 681, 706 (1997) (“The District Court has broad discretion to stay proceedings as an incident to its power to control its own docket.”); Lockyer v. Mirant Corp., 398 F.3d 1098, 1109 (9th Cir. 2005) (“A district court has discretionary power to stay proceedings in its own court[.]”). When a stay is requested because of pending proceedings that bear on the case, the Court may grant a stay in the interests of the efficiency of its own docket and fairness to the parties. See Leyva v. Certified Grocers of Cal. Ltd., 593 F.2d 857, 863 (9th Cir. 1979).

         In the context of a motion to stay pending a motion to consolidate cases before the JPML, district courts consider the following factors: (1) the judicial resources that would be saved by avoiding duplicative litigation if the cases are in fact consolidated; (2) hardship and inequity to the moving party if the action is not stayed; and (3) potential prejudice to the non-moving party. See Summa v. McKesson Corp., 2013 WL 3948844, at *2 (N.D. Cal. July 30, 2013) (citing Rivers v. Walt Disney Co., 980 F.Supp. 1358, 1360 (C.D. Cal. 1997)); see also In re Hawaii State Asbestos Cases, 2011 WL 4478502, at *8 (D. Haw. Sept. 26, 2011) (citing Ortiz v. Menu Foods, Inc., 525 F.Supp.2d 1220, 1232 (D. Haw. 2007)).

         II. Analysis Of Factors

         Having considered the relevant factors and in an exercise of its discretion, the Court concludes that a temporary stay of this action is appropriate pending a decision by the JPML on Defendants' MDL Motion.

         A. Judicial Economy

         Preservation of judicial resources is a primary factor to consider in evaluating a motion to stay proceedings pending a transfer to an MDL court. See Rivers, 980 F.Supp. at 1360-61. A stay is appropriate when it would avoid the needless duplication of work and the possibility of inconsistent rulings. Freitas v. McKesson Corp., 2012 WL 161211, at *2 (N.D. Cal. Jan. 10, 2012) (citing Rivers, 980 F.Supp. at 1360-61). In Rivers, the district court explained that judicial efficiency can be served by granting a motion to stay where the court would otherwise have to engage in the “intricacies” of a case, which ultimately an MDL judge may have to duplicate. 980 F.Supp. at 1360-61. Here, the Court ...


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