Pennsylvania Record

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Judge finds fraudulent joinder, keeps jurisdiction over lawsuits over ParaGard IUDs


By Marian Johns | Apr 2, 2019

Medical malpractice 04

PHILADELPHIA —  The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania won't remand a lawsuit filed by two women who claim they suffered complications when having their Teva Pharmaceuticals IUDs removed.

According to the March 27 court order, plaintiffs Kathryn Reith and Laurie Steiner Halperin petitioned the court to have their case against defendants Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc., Teva Women's Health Inc., Teva Branded Pharmaceuticals Products R&D Inc., The Cooper Cos. Inc., and CooperSurgical Inc. moved back to state court.

Reith, a Utah resident, and Halperin, a California resident, had both received a ParaGard intrauterine contraceptive device (IUD) manufactured and sold by the defendants. Years later, when the women had their IUDs removed, a part of the device broke off requiring both plaintiffs to undergo additional surgery to remove the IUD fragments, according to the court filing. 

The defendants removed the case to the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania based on "diversity of citizenship between the plaintiffs" and that four other defendants were "fraudulently joined" to the suit.

The plaintiffs argued the case should be remanded to state court because there was "no fraudulent joinder" and that several of the defendants are citizens of Pennsylvania, where the plaintiffs' originally separate lawsuits were brought.  

The defendants argue that Teva Women's Health, which has a "diverse citizenship," should be the only defendant because they are the manufacturers and sellers of the IUDs named in the plaintiffs' case. 

The court noted that "discovery demonstrates unequivocally that the joiner of Teva Branded was fraudulent" and that the company formed in 2009 after the IUD in question was implanted in the plaintiffs. The court also rejected the plaintiffs' argument that the companies were named in FDA documents relating to the IUD saying "these references cannot be considered as evidence" that Teva manufactured the IUD. 

U.S. District Judge Harvey Bartle III concluded "we will deny the plaintiffs’ motions to remand these actions to the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County. The defendants Teva Pharmaceuticals USA Inc. and Teva Branded Pharmaceutical Products R&D Inc. will be dismissed from both actions as fraudulently joined. Defendant The Cooper Cos. Inc. will be dismissed as fraudulently joined in Civil Action No. 18-3992 only."

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