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Brinston v. Walmart, Inc.

United States District Court, E.D. Louisiana

August 27, 2019

DAWN BRINSTON
v.
WALMART, INC., ET AL.

         SECTION A(5)

          ORDER AND REASONS

          JAY C. ZAINEY, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         Before the Court is a Motion to Dismiss (Rec. Doc. 18) filed by Defendant International Laboratories, LLC (“INL”). Defendant Walmart, Inc. (“Walmart”) opposes the motion. (Rec. Doc. 20). The Court notes that though Plaintiff Dawn Brinston did not file a response, the Court considers the merits of the motion in light of Walmart's opposition. The motion, set for submission on August 7, 2019, is before the Court on the briefs without oral argument. Having considered the motion and memoranda of counsel, the opposition, the record, and the applicable law, the Court finds that the motion is DENIED for the reasons set forth below.

         I. Background

         In March of 2017, Plaintiff was prescribed a prescription for Clopidogrel USP 75mg which she then filled at Walmart on the second of every month. (Rec. Doc. 4-1 Petition, ¶ II-III). On January 10, 2018, INL announced a voluntary recall of a batch of Clopidogrel USP 75mg as mislabeled Clopidogrel 75mg or Simvastatin USP 10mg. (Id. at V). In February 2018, Plaintiff received letters from United Health Care and Sam's Club Walmart notifying Plaintiff of INL's recall. (Id. at VIII). Plaintiff filed suit in the Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans alleging that the mislabeled prescription medicine caused various serious symptoms including an increased coronary artery blockage. (Id. at XIV). Defendant Walmart filed the Notice of Removal on March 7, 2019 in accordance with 28 U.S.C. §1332, diversity jurisdiction. (Rec. Doc. 1, p. 2). By bringing this motion, Defendant INL requests this Court to dismiss Plaintiff's case pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2), 12(b)(5), and 12(b)(6).

         II. Legal Standard

         In the context of a motion to dismiss the Court must accept all factual allegations in the complaint as true and draw all reasonable inferences in the plaintiff's favor. Lormand v. U.S. Unwired, Inc., 565 F.3d 228, 232 (5th Cir. 2009) (citing Tellabs, Inc. v. Makor Issues & Rights, Ltd., 551 U.S. 308 (2007); Scheuer v. Rhodes, 416 U.S. 232, 236 (1974); Lovick v. Ritemoney, Ltd., 378 F.3d 433, 437 (5th Cir. 2004)). However, the foregoing tenet is inapplicable to legal conclusions. Ashcroft v. Iqbal, 129 S.Ct. 1937, 1949 (2009). Thread-bare recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by mere conclusory statements, do not suffice. Id. (citing Bell Atlantic Corp. v. Twombly, 550, U.S. 544, 555 (2007)).

         III. Discussion

         Defendant INL argues that the Petition lacks a constitutional basis for this Court to exercise personal jurisdiction and fails to state a cognizable claim for which relief can be granted. (Rec. Doc. 18-1, p. 1). INL also asserts that the Petition should be dismissed for improper service. (Id.). Walmart opposes dismissal addressing INL's arguments as outlined below.

         A. Rule 12(b)(2)

         The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment protects liberty interests such that a person will not be subject to a binding judgment of a forum in which he has not established “contacts, ties, or relations.” ITL Intern., Inv. v. Constenla, S.A., 669 F.3d 493, 498 (5th Cir. 2012)(citing Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 319, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95 (1945)). The Due Process Clause requires: (1) minimum contacts by the defendant directed at the forum state, i.e., the defendant purposely directed its activities toward the forum state or purposely availed itself of the privileges of conducting activities there; (2) a nexus between the plaintiff's cause of action and the defendant's forum-related contacts; and (3) that the exercise of personal jurisdiction be fair and reasonable. Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 474, 105 S.Ct. 2174, 85 L.Ed.2d 528 (1985).

         Minimum contacts may give rise to either “specific” jurisdiction or “general” jurisdiction. Helicopteros Nacionales de Colombia, S.A. v. Hall, 466 U.S. 408, 414 n. 8-9, 104 S.Ct. 1868, 80 L.Ed.2d 404 (1984). Specific jurisdiction exists when a plaintiff's cause of action arises from, or is related to, the nonresident defendant's minimum contacts in the forum state. Id. at 414 n. 8, 104 S.Ct. 1868. General jurisdiction exists if the defendant has engaged in “continuous and systematic” activities in the forum state. Id. at 415, 104 S.Ct. 1868. In order for a court to exercise general jurisdiction over a foreign corporation, the corporation's “affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Daimler AG v. Bauman, 571 U.S. 117, 127, 134 S.Ct. 746, 754, 187 L.Ed.2d 624 (2014).

         INL argues that this Court should dismiss Plaintiff's claims against INL because this Court lacks both specific and general personal jurisdiction over INL. (Rec. Doc. 18-1, p.1). Because the act of mislabeling Plaintiff's medication and the acts of manufacturing and/or supplying the mislabeled medication occurred outside the forum state of Louisiana, INL argues that this Court lacks specific jurisdiction. (Rec. Doc. 18-1, p. 3). INL also asserts that Plaintiff failed to plead a connection between the alleged wrongful acts and the forum state and she failed to establish that INL purposefully availed itself of the forum. (Id.). INL argues that this Court lacks general jurisdiction because INL is not organized under the laws of Louisiana, it does not have a principal place of business in this state, and the Petition lacks allegations that INL has affiliation with Louisiana so continuous and systematic such as to render it essentially at home. (Id. at 12).

         Walmart responds that INL does in fact have sufficient minimum contacts for this Court to exercise specific personal jurisdiction. (Rec. Doc. 20, p. 2). Walmart argues that Plaintiff established a prima facie case that INL, a foreign limited liability company, mislabeled medication that caused Plaintiff's injuries. (Id. at 5). Walmart asserts that by issuing a nationwide voluntary recall, INL knew that the injurious effects of the mislabeled medication ...


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