United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana
MELISSA CLAYTON, ET AL.
ETHICON INC., ET AL.
ORDER AND REASONS
the Court is a motion for partial summary judgment filed by
Defendants Ethicon, Inc. and Johnson & Johnson. R. Doc.
148. No. opposition was filed. For the reasons that follow,
the unopposed motion is GRANTED.
one of several cases brought against Defendants Ethicon, Inc.
and Johnson & Johnson, alleging their pelvic mesh
products are defective and unreasonably dangerous. In April
2010, Plaintiff Melissa Clayton, a Louisiana resident, was
implanted with Ethicon's Prolift medical device at a
Louisiana hospital. She and her spouse, Charles Clayton,
assert causes of action under the Louisiana Products
Liability Act. This case was consolidated into a
multidistrict litigation in the United States District Court
for the Southern District of West Virginia, and was remanded
to this Court in May 2017.
now move for partial summary judgment dismissing
Plaintiffs' claim for punitive damages. No. opposition
LAW AND ANALYSIS
judgment is appropriate if Defendants can show that there is
no genuine issue of material fact and that they are entitled
to judgment as a matter of law. Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(a). In
deciding whether they have done so, the Court views facts and
draws inferences in the light most favorable to Plaintiffs.
Midwest Feeders, Inc. v. Bank of Franklin, 886 F.3d
507, 513 (5th Cir. 2018). A genuine issue of material fact
exists if a reasonable jury could return a verdict for the
nonmoving party. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc.,
477 U.S. 242, 248 (1996). “[U]nsubstantiated
assertions, ” “conclusory allegations, ”
and merely colorable factual bases are insufficient to defeat
a motion for summary judgment - the nonmoving party must show
more than “some metaphysical doubt as to the material
facts.” Matsushita Elec. Indus. Co. v. Zenith Radio
Corp., 475 U.S. 574, 586 (1986).
federal court sitting in diversity must apply the
choice-of-law rules of the forum state. Allison v. ITE
Imperial Corp., 928 F.2d 137, 138 (5th Cir. 1991).
Because this case was originally filed in Louisiana,
Louisiana's choice-of-law rules apply. Id.;
Klaxon Co. v. Stentor Elec. Mfg. Co., 313 U.S. 487,
496 (1941). The Louisiana Civil Code instructs that
“liability for injury caused by a product, as well as
damages, whether compensatory, special or punitive, are
governed by the law of this state … when the injury
was sustained in this state by a person domiciled or residing
in this state.” La. Civ. Code art. 3545; Shively v.
Ethicon, Inc., 2018 WL 6816083, at *4 (W.D. La. Dec. 27,
Plaintiffs are Louisiana residents; Ms. Clayton's
implantation surgery occurred in a Louisiana hospital; and
Ms. Clayton's alleged injuries, follow-up care, and
revision surgeries occurred in Louisiana, Louisiana law
applies to Plaintiffs' claim for punitive damages. R.
Doc. 148-5; Shively, 2018 WL 6816083.
Louisiana law, punitive damages are not allowable unless
expressly authorized by statute. Int'l Harvester
Credit Corp. v. I.T. Seale, 518 So.2d 1039, 1041 (La.
1988). Plaintiffs' claims in this case are governed by
the Louisiana Products Liability Act (“LPLA”),
which provides “the exclusive theories of liability for
manufacturers for damage caused by their products.” La.
R.S. 9:2800.52. The LPLA does not authorize punitive damages.
See Shively, 2018 WL 6816083, at *4 (“The LPLA
is clear and unambiguous and does not provide for punitive
damages.”); Pierre v. Medtronic, Inc., No. CV
17-12196, 2018 WL 1911829, at *5 (E.D. La. Apr. 23, 2018);
Ivory v. Pfizer Inc., 2009 WL 3230611, at *8 (W.D.
La. Sept. 30, 2009); Cheeks v. Bayer Corp., No.
03-132, 2003 WL 1748460, at *1 (E.D. La. Mar. 28, 2003).
no statute expressly authorizes punitive damages in this
case, Plaintiffs' claim for punitive damages must be
dismissed. See, e.g., Truxillo v. Johnson &
Johnson, No. 07-2883, 2007 WL 1853363, at *4 (E.D. La.
June 27, 2007); Shively, 2018 WL 681083, at *4-5.