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McCraw v. Glaxosmithkline

United States District Court, E.D. Pennsylvania

January 17, 2014

McCRAW, , Plaintiffs,




Before the Court is the Motion to Transfer Venue filed by Defendant GlaxoSmithKline LLC, formerly SmithKline Beecham Corporation d/b/a GlaxoSmithKline ("Defendant"), in which Defendant seeks to have this case transferred to the Southern District of Texas. T.R.M., a minor, ("Child") and her mother, Shawna L. McCraw ("Mother") (collectively "Plaintiffs") oppose the Motion to Transfer. For the reasons that follow, the Court will grant Defendant's motion pursuant to U.S.C. § 1404(a) and transfer the case to the Southern District of Texas for further proceedings.


A. Procedural History

This case originated as one of the many cased filed as part of the consolidated Paxil Pregnancy litigation pending in the Philadelphia Court of Common Please Mass. Tort Program (In re Paxil Pregnancy Cases, February Term 2007, No. 3220). The present case was filed as part of a long form complaint alongside several other cases and supplemented by a short form complaint. See Notice of Removal, Ex. A., Long Form Compl., ECF No. 1. On April 20, 2013, Defendant filed the Notice of Removal in which it removed this case, alongside with several other Paxil Pregnancy Cases, to the United States District Court. Notice of Removal, ECF No. 1. The Court later granted Defendant's Motion to Stay, pending the Third Circuit's determination of Defendant's state of citizenship. Order Granting Motion to Stay, ECF No. 7; see also Mot. to Stay, ECF No. 2. On June 13, 2013. Defendant notified the Court that the Third Circuit had determined that Defendant was a citizen of Delaware and not a citizen of Pennsylvania. See Notice, June 12, 2013, ECF No. 9. On October 30, 2013, Defendant filed a Motion to Transfer. See Mot. to Transfer Venue, ECF No. 10. Plaintiffs have filed their response (ECF No. 11) and Defendant has filed a reply (ECF No. 12).

B. Factual Background

Paxil, the band name for paroxetine hydrochloride, is a prescription-drug medication that is manufactured, distributed, and marketed by Defendant. It has been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for treatment of, among other conditions, depression. Defendant has extensive corporate offices in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and employs a vast workforce therein. Defendant's document depository, containing the relevant documents relating to Paxil, is located in Philadelphia. See generally Fisher v. SmithKline Beecham Corp., No. 06-3021, 2007 WL 1234845, at *1, *4 (E.D. Pa. Apr. 25, 2007) (providing information on Defendant's document depository within the Eastern District of Pennsylvania). Furthermore, Plaintiffs allege that the executives and scientists involved in the clinical trials of Paxil, Defendant's FDA liaison for Paxil from 1995 through 2003, and others associated with the drug all reside in or near Philadelphia. See Pls.'s Brief 2, ECF No. 11 (citing Fisher, 2007 WL 1234845, at *3-4). Finally, the pediatric clinical trials for Paxil were conducted in Philadelphia. See generally Fisher, 2007 WL 1234845, at *8.

Plaintiffs both reside in Houston, Texas. Def.'s Mot. to Transfer, Ex. A, Short Form Compl. ¶ 6, ECF No. 10-3. Plaintiffs were residents of Texas[1] at all times relevant to this matter. Plaintiffs claim that Mother's doctor, Dr. Michael A. Barnard, M.D., prescribed Paxil to treat Mother's depression. Plaintiffs allege that Mother consumed Paxil, as per the prescription, during her pregnancy. Plaintiffs aver that due to Mother's ingestion of Paxil while pregnant, Child was born with several birth defects including: persistent pulmonary hypertension; atrial septal defect; ventricular septal defect; atrioventricular canal defect; common valve defect; coarctation of the aorta; subaortic obstruction; patent ductus artery defect; and/or developmental delay. Compl. ¶ 6.

Plaintiffs' complaint asserts sixteen counts: Breach of Express Warranty; Breach of Implied Warranty; Fraud; Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress; Loss of Consortium; Negligence; Negligence Per Se; Negligent Pharmacovigilance; Failure to Warn; Negligent Misrepresentation; Punitive Damages; Strict Products Liability; Violation Of Consumer Fraud Statutes; Loss of Income; Medical Expenses; and Design Defect. Compl. ¶ 7.

In toto, from the face of the complaint, Plaintiffs allege that Mother saw Dr. Barnard in Texas, the Paxil was prescribed in Texas, Mother consumed the Paxil in Texas, Mother was Pregnant in Texas, Child was born in Texas, Child's treatment has been within Texas, and Plaintiffs reside in Texas, but Defendant has a significant presence in Pennsylvania and much of Paxil's development was conducted in Pennsylvania.


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).[2] Federal law governs the determination of whether to transfer venue pursuant to § 1404(a) as the issue is procedural rather than substantive. See Jumara v. State Farm Ins. Co. , 55 F.3d 873, 877-78 (3d Cir. 1995). The analysis of a request for transfer under § 1404(a) consists of two parts.

First, the transferor and transferee venue must both be proper. For jurisdiction based on a federal question,

(b) A civil action may be brought [and thus, venue proper] in-
(1) a judicial district in which any defendant resides, if all defendants are residents of the State in which the district is located;
(2) a judicial district in which a substantial part of the events or omissions giving rise to the claim occurred, or a substantial part of property that is the subject of the action is situated; or
(3) if there is no district in which an action may otherwise be brought as provided in this section, any judicial district in which any defendant is subject to the court's personal jurisdiction with respect to such action.

28 U.S.C. § 1391(b).

Second, the Court is required to consider "all relevant factors to determine whether on balance the litigation would more conveniently proceed and the interests of justice be better served by transfer to a different forum." Jumara , 55 F.3d at 879 (citation omitted). The Third Circuit has outlined a non-exhaustive list of the public and private interest factors that courts should consider in making that determination. 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.

McLaughlin v. GlaxoSmithKline, L.L.C., No. 12-3272, 2012 WL 4932016, at *2 (E.D. Pa. Oct. 17, 2012) (citing Jumara , 55 F.3d 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) ...

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