Judge Presiding Over RCRSD Case Finds No Fraudulent Joinder of CA-Based Effexor Distributor, Action Remanded to State Court

By on June 17, 2013 - Comments off

According to a California federal District Court, a California company that distributed anti-anxiety and anti-depressant drug Effexor was not fraudulently joined in a products liability failure to warn action against Pfizer, Inc., Pfizer International LLC and Wyeth Pharmaceuticals, Inc., the drug’s manufacturers, and McKesson Corp., the its distributor. As a result, the action was sent back to state court.

The products liability action was brought on behalf of a child who developed a congenital heart defect resulting allegedly from his mother’s use of venlafaxine, brand name Effexor, while she was pregnant. Venlafaxine belongs to a class of drugs referred to as SNRIs, or serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors, and is commonly used to treat anxiety and depressive disorders. The complaint claimed that the drug’s manufacturers and its distributor failed to warn health care providers, the medical community, the public, and the child’s mother of the risks associated with the drug when taken during pregnancy. In addition, the complaint claimed that the manufacturers and distributor represented the drug as effective and safe to use during pregnancy.

Pfizer attempted to remove the action to federal court by claiming, among other things, that McKesson was fraudulently joined because the allegations in the complaint against the distributor McKesson failed to state a claim under California law. The Court, however, could not find that the claim must fail. Pfizer’s arguments showed an “obvious” failure to state a claim “according to the settled rules of the state,” as required by the Ninth Circuit, and the case was remanded to California state court.