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Cinda Mclaughlin v. Glaxosmithkline

October 17, 2012


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Buckwalter, S. J.


Currently pending before the Court is the Motion of Defendant GlaxoSmithKline to Transfer Venue to the Western District of Louisiana pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404. For the following reasons, the Motion is granted and the case is transferred to the United States District Court for the Western District of Louisiana.


According to the facts as set forth in the Complaint, this action was brought by Plaintiff, Cinda McLaughling as a result of injuries she allegedly sustained after ingesting the drug Paxil and its generic equivalent, paroxetine. (Compl. ¶ 1.) Paxil is designed, developed, manufactured, promoted, marketed, and distributed by Defendant GlaxoSmithKline ("GSK"). (Id. ¶ 8.) Paroxetine is designed, manufactured, tested, marketed, distributed, promoted, and sold by both Defendant Apotex and Defendant Cadila, as well as Cadila's parent organization, Defendant Zydus. (Id. ¶¶ 9--10.)

On or about June 10, 2010, Plaintiff underwent aortic and mitral valve replacement at St. Francis Medical Center in Monroe, Louisiana. (Id. ¶ 11.) Just prior to this surgery, Plaintiff had been prescribed and began taking Paxil and paroxetine to treat depression. (Id. ¶ 16.) After the surgery, Plaintiff found that her aortic valve "was thickened, with myxoid degeneration, without atherosclerosis or calcification." (Id. ¶ 13.) Additionally, "the microscopic analysis showed fibrous connective tissue with broad areas of proliferation with a pale blue, almost myxoid matrix on the sides of the valves and within the central, thickened portions of the leaflets." (Id.)

Plaintiff's mitral valve also demonstrated problems post surgery:

[I]t was thickened, the cordae tendinae were shortened, myxoid degeneration was present, and the valve did not show atherosclerosis or calcification. The microscopic analysis showed a thickened leaflet with pale blue stroma with slender fibroblasts, causing considerable thickening of the valve. Additionally, portion of the myxoid tissue appeared layered or laminated to the surface of the valve while other portions were present within the substance of the valve, particularly of the thickened rolled edge. (Id. ¶ 14.) Plaintiff notes that she had previously undergone coronary artery bypass surgery in January of 2004, after which she did not have any problems with her aortic or mitral valves. (Id.

¶ 15.) Since then, she has developed aortic insufficiency, mitral senosis, and mitral insufficiency. (Id.) She has experienced several recurrent bouts of congestive heart failure with shortness of breath to the degree that surgery to replace her aortic and mitral valves became necessary. (Id.) Plaintiff believes that her use of Paxil and paroxetine caused these conditions. (Id. ¶¶ 17--19.)

Plaintiff brought suit on June 8, 2012, alleging ten causes of action, including (1) design defect, (2) manufacturing defect, (3) failure to warn, (4) breach of express warranty, (5) negligence, (6) punitive damages, (7) fraud, (8) negligent misrepresentation, (9) negligence per se, and (10) unjust enrichment. Plaintiff filed Motions to Voluntarily Dismiss Defendants Apotex, Cadila, and Zydus on October 10, 2012. Defendant GSK filed a Motion to Dismiss, a Motion to Stay Proceedings, and the instant Motion to Transfer on August 31, 2012. Plaintiff filed her Opposition to the Motion to Transfer on September 21 and supplemented this Opposition on September 24. GSK filed a Reply brief in support on October 10. The court will now consider the merits of Defendant's Motion to Transfer Venue.


Pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a), a district court may transfer an action to any other district "where it might have been brought" if this transfer is "for the convenience of parties and witnesses" and "in the interest of justice." 28 U.S.C. § 1404(a); see also Connors v. UUU Prods., No. Civ.A.03-6420, 2004 WL 834726, at *6 (E.D. Pa. Mar. 5, 2004). The determination of whether to transfer venue pursuant to § 1404(a) is governed by federal law. See Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co., 55 F.3d 873, 877--878 (3d Cir. 1995) (federal law applies because questions of venue are procedural, rather than substantive).

Analysis of a request for a § 1404(a) transfer has two components. First, both the original venue and the requested venue must be proper. Id. at 879. Venue, in a case based on federal question jurisdiction, is proper only in "(1) a jurisdiction where any of defendant resides if all defendants reside in the same State, (2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or issues giving rise to the claim occurred . . ., or (3) a judicial district in which any defendant may be found, if there is no district in which the action may otherwise be brought." 28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

Second, because the purpose of allowing § 1404(a) transfers is "'to prevent the waste of time, energy and money and to protect litigants, witnesses and the public against unnecessary inconvenience and expense,'" Pro Spice, Inc. v. Omni Trade Group, Inc., 173 F. Supp. 2d 336, 339 (E.D. Pa. 2001) (quoting Van Dusen v. Barrack, 376 U.S. 612, 616 (1964)), the Court is required to undertake a balancing test in deciding whether the "interests of justice [would] be better served by a transfer to a different forum." Jumara, 55 F.3d at 879. The Third Circuit has outlined a non-exhaustive list of pertinent public and private interest factors to be weighed in this balancing test. The private interests include: (1) the plaintiff's forum preference as manifested in the original choice; (2) the defendant's preference; (3) whether the claim arose elsewhere; (4) the convenience of the parties as indicated by their relative physical and financial condition; (5) the convenience of the witnesses; and (6) the location of books and records. Id. at 879. The public interests include: (1) the enforceability of the judgment; (2) practical considerations that could make the trial easy, expeditious, or inexpensive; (3) the relative administrative difficulty in the two fora resulting from court congestion; (4) the local interest in deciding controversies at home;

(5) the public policies of the fora; and (6) the familiarity of the trial judge with the applicable state law in diversity cases. Id. at 879--80. The burden falls on the moving defendant to show the desirability of transferring venue and to present evidence upon which the court may rely in justifying transfer. Fellner ex rel. Estate of Fellner v. Phila. Toboggan Coasters, Inc., No. Civ.A.05-1052, 2005 WL 2660351, at *4 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 18, 2005).*fn1 Notably, analyses of transfers under § 1404(a) are "flexible and must be made on the unique facts of each case."*fn2 Job Haines Home for the Aged v. Young, 936 F. Supp. 223, 227 (D.N.J. 1996) (internal quotations omitted).

In the case at bar, neither party disputes that the case "might have been brought" in Defendant's requested venue of the Western District of Louisiana. The Complaint at issue clearly acknowledges that Plaintiff is a resident of Ouachita Parish, Louisiana, which is within the Western District of Louisiana. (Compl. ΒΆ 2.) Additionally, a substantial part of the alleged actions occurred in the Western District of Louisiana. Accordingly, the Court turns to the second part of the inquiry: whether the convenience of the parties and witnesses, as well as the interests of justice, would be served by transferring this case to the Western District ...

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