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29 daypitney haglund29 DayPitney Haglund 4/25/07 11:44 AM Page 1 The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel
New Jersey Supreme Court Reins In Appellate Division’s
Expansive Tort Conﬂicts-Of-Law Analysis
Benjamin E. Haglund,
already diluted its interest in applying its Marc D. Crowley and
Amy Valentine McClelland
DAY PITNEY LLP
The New Jersey
reversed a decision rendered last year by sion’s view, the Supreme Court concluded Benjamin E.
that another purpose of Michigan’s tort McClelland
law was to increase the availability of pre- Jersey Products Liability Act available to out-of-state plaintiffs with no connection the dismissal, holding that the Appellate to New Jersey. The Supreme Court’s deci- Division had afforded insufﬁcient weight sion in Rowe v. Hoffmann-La Roche, Inc. would result in fewer and costlier drugs, to Michigan’s interest in having its tort addresses important conﬂicts of law prin- cern for protecting Michigan businesses. sey’s interest in applying its statutory ciples in the context of a failure-to-warn The Rowe Court concluded that it was against the potential psychological effects not its role to question the effectiveness of tical product for the treatment of acne.
Supreme Court’s determination that there The Laws In Conﬂict
sey’s interest in enforcing its products lia- At the heart of Rowe is a conﬂict over bility laws did not override Michigan’s Jersey’s rebuttable presumption as to the gan should apply to plaintiff’s claim.
adequacy of an FDA-approved warning.
gan’s goals of immunizing drug manufac- turers and making more drugs available to governmental interest analysis, i.e., to determine each state’s respective interest alleged defect in the product or its warn- in having its own substantive law applied joined by amici curiae Product Liability to the claim. To make this determination, Advisory Council, Healthcare Institute of “is not defective or unreasonably danger- ous, and the manufacturer or seller is not ing each state’s statute and then deter- sey’s interest in deterring New Jersey cor- liable, if the drug was approved for safety were implicated by the parties and the lit- igation. It was in this determination that amicus curiae The Association of Trial the [FDA’s] approval at the time the drug such, New Jersey’s interest in applying its The Facts
Jersey’s interest in the litigation and had law to the controversy properly yielded to 600.2496(5). New Jersey law, in contrast, guished the facts in this case from its pre- The Dissent
against – and not full immunity from – vious holding in Gantes v. Kason Corp., 145 N.J. 478 (1996). Gantes involved a Long joining, on the issue of which state’s have afﬁrmed the decision of the Appel- Drug Administration (“FDA”) in 1982 for tion with a drug . . . has been approved by late Division. He wrote that Gantes, the treatment of a severe type of acne.
the [FDA], a rebuttable presumption shall although distinguishable from the present Rowe ﬁlled the prescription at a Michigan plaintiff from bringing a products liability claim more than ten years after the prod- emphasized New Jersey’s interest in pro- moting the safe manufacture of goods.
The Litigation And Appeal
had no such limitation. The Gantes Court Judge Stern concluded that extensive reg- tal interest analysis, found that Michigan attempt, he received psychiatric treatment law applied to plaintiff’s claim, and there- interest, and noted that, under New Jersey fore dismissed the lawsuit. The Appellate of unsafe products. On the other hand, the law, FDA approval is not sufﬁcient, in and Division reversed in a 2-1 decision, hold- intent of Georgia’s statute of repose was of itself, to preclude recovery in a failure- corporation and has its principal place of ing that New Jersey had the greater inter- to protect Georgia’s insurance companies est and that the plaintiff was entitled to a and prevent stale claims from being heard sey Products Liability Act precludes only Laboratories also has its principal place in its courts – two interests not implicated punitive damages – not all damages.
New Jersey law. For this reason, the Rowe Jersey’s interest in providing compensa- Court concluded that Gantes did not con- tion when the presumption of a warning’s almost all of defendants’ sales activities ity, while New Jersey’s law is intended to trol its determination of the present case.
mount, and Michigan’s interest in protect- Rowe Court found that New Jersey law Benjamin E. Haglund is a Partner at
Day Pitney LLP, where his practice focuses on product liability disputes, shareholder/investor suits, and commer- turer, and, moreover, would be contrary to cial disputes. Marc D. Crowley is Coun-
New Jersey’s interest in seeing its own sel to the ﬁrm. His practice focuses on law applied. In a dissent, the third judge products liability defense, general com- Liability Act to establish that, absent some mercial matters, and franchise litigation that the Michigan law was not intended to the claimant’s state’s law is more favor- in the federal and state courts of New Jer- sey and New York. Amy Valentine
ers, and criticized the majority decision dispositive in a failure-to-warn case. FDA McClelland is an Associate at the ﬁrm,
approval of a prescription drug also pre- decision should be to reduce the incentive where her practice focuses on insurance and reinsurance disputes and products the Products Liability Act. The Court con- Jersey as their desired forum for ﬁling cluded that New Jersey, in ceding some of Please email the authors at [email protected], [email protected] or [email protected]
with questions about this article.
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