Justia California Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Drugs & Biotech
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Quidel Corporation (Quidel) petitioned for a writ of mandate and/or prohibition to direct the trial court to vacate its order granting summary adjudication. Quidel contended the trial court incorrectly concluded a provision in its contract with Beckman Coulter, Inc. (Beckman) was an invalid restraint on trade in violation of Business and Professions Code, section 16600. Quidel argued the trial court improperly extended the holding from Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP, 44 Cal.4th 937 (2008) beyond the employment context to a provision in the parties’ 2003 BNP Assay Agreement (the Agreement). In its original, published opinion, the Court of Appeal concluded it was not, granted the petition and issued a writ instructing the trial court to vacate the December 2018 order granting summary judgment on the first cause of action. The California Supreme Court then granted review of the Court of Appeal's opinion and ordered briefing deferred pending its decision in Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc., S256927. On August 3, 2020, the Supreme Court issued Ixchel Pharma, LLC v. Biogen, Inc., 9 Cal.5th 1130 (2020), which held “a rule of reason applies to determine the validity of a contractual provision by which a business is restrained from engaging in a lawful trade or business with another business.” The Quidel matter was transferred back to the Court of Appeals with directions to vacate its previous opinion and reconsider the case in light of Ixchel. The appellate court issued a new opinion in which it concluded the trial court’s decision was incorrect. The trial court was directed to vacate the December 7, 2018 order granting summary adjudication on the first cause of action. View "Quidel Corporation v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Granny Purps grows and provides medical marijuana to its 20,000 members, in compliance with state laws governing the production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes. Santa Cruz County’s ordinance prohibits any medical cannabis operation from cultivating more than 99 plants; Granny’s dispensary was growing thousands of marijuana plants. The sheriff’s office went to the dispensary in June 2015, seized about 1,800 plants, and issued a notice of ordinance violation. Several months later, officers again went to the dispensary and took about 400 more marijuana plants. Granny sued, alleging conversion, trespass, and inverse condemnation and sought an order requiring the county to return the seized cannabis plants, The trial court dismissed.The court of appeal reversed. A government entity does not have to return seized property if the property itself is illegal but the Santa Cruz ordinance ultimately regulates land use within the county; it does not (nor could it) render illegal a substance that is legal under state law. View "Granny Purps, Inc. v. County of Santa Cruz" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs filed suit against Mentor, alleging causes of action for negligence and negligence per se based on Mentor's negligent failure to warn and negligent manufacturing of breast implants, strict products liability for failure to warn, and strict products liability for manufacturing defects.The Court of Appeal reversed the trial court's judgment and entered an order overruling the demurrer to the third amended complaint. The court held that the tort claims in this case survive preemption because they are premised on conduct that both violates the Medical Device Amendments (MDA) to the Food, Drug, and Cosmetics Act and would give rise to a recovery under state law even in the absence of the MDA. The court also held that plaintiffs pleaded the requisite causal connection between their injuries and Mentor's tortious acts to survive a demurrer. Finally, the trial court erroneously sustained Mentor's demurrer to the loss of consortium claim because it was derivative of the other claims. View "Mize v. Mentor Worldwide LLC" on Justia Law

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Plaintiffs, two adolescents who were prescribed the antipsychotic drug risperidone after it was approved by the FDA to treat behavioral symptoms in children with autism, filed suit against Janssen for failure to adequately warn of the risk of gynecomastia on the drug's label.In the published portion of the opinion, the Court of Appeal held that the trial court was correct to decide the issue of preemption without submitting any purported underlying factual questions to a jury. The court also held that Janssen did not meet its burden to establish its preemption defense and that plaintiffs' claims based on the information in table 21, studies 41 and 70, are not preempted. In this case, Janssen did not meet its burden to show by clear evidence that it fully informed the FDA and, in turn, the FDA rejected a proposed label change. View "Risperdal and Invega Cases" on Justia Law

Posted in: Drugs & Biotech
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Under California law, the donor's intent controls the disposition of his or her gametic material upon death. Plaintiff appealed the trial court's judgment sustaining demurrers to her causes of action alleged against defendants. After plaintiff's husband entered into an irreversible coma, she arranged to extract his sperm in hopes of one day conceiving a child with it. Plaintiff stored the sperm in a tissue bank that ultimately came under the control of defendants, and, ten years later, when she requested the sperm, defendants disclosed that they could not locate it. Plaintiff filed suit, alleging contract and tort claims based on the loss of her ability to have a child biologically related to her deceased husband.The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court's judgment, holding that the complaint failed to adequately plead facts supporting tort damages. In this case, plaintiff's tort causes of action are all premised on the loss of her ability to conceive with her deceased husband's sperm. However, the court held that the complaint failed to allege facts establishing that plaintiff was legally entitled to use her husband's sperm to conceive a child after he died. In this case, plaintiff's status as his spouse did not entitle her to conceive with his sperm; absent an affirmative showing that the husband intended to allow plaintiff to conceive with his sperm, plaintiff was not entitled to do so; and thus the complaint failed to allege that it was the husband's intent that his sperm be used for posthumous conception. Finally, the court held that plaintiff cannot recover emotional distress damages on her breach of contract cause of action. View "Robertson v. Saadat" on Justia Law

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This case arose when Amgen submitted a price increase notice to CCHCS and other registered purchasers. Reuters News made a request under the California Public Records Act, seeking the price increase notices. Amgen then filed a petition for writ of mandamus blocking disclosure. Amgen also moved for a preliminary injunction, which the trial court granted. While this appeal was pending, the trial court sustained CCHCS's demurrer to the mandamus cause of action with leave to amend, and then Amgen chose to dismiss the action instead.The Court of Appeal held that the appeal was not barred by the mootness doctrine where the issues raised are capable of repetition because there will be future price increase notices. Furthermore, the issues are likely to evade review because a pharmaceutical manufacturer has little reason to continue to prosecute a mandamus action after obtaining a preliminary injunction for the 60-day period before a price increase becomes public.On the merits, the court held that the trial court abused its discretion by concluding that Amgen had sufficiently shown that its price increase notice pursuant to Senate Bill No. 17 was a trade secret despite its disclosure to the registered purchasers. In this case, Amgen failed to explain how its purported trade secret maintained its confidentiality and concomitant value to Amgen when it was disclosed to over 170 purchasers who had the incentive to use the information to their benefit and Amgen's detriment, and were not subject to any restrictions on using or further disseminating the information. Likewise, the court held that the trial court abused its discretion in finding that the balance of harms favored Amgen. Therefore, the court reversed the trial court's order granting a preliminary injunction in favor of Amgen. View "Amgen Inc. v. Health Care Services" on Justia Law

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Quidel Corporation (Quidel) petitioned for a writ of mandate and/or prohibition to direct the trial court to vacate its order granting summary judgment. Quidel contended the trial court incorrectly concluded a provision in its contract with Beckman Coulter, Inc. (Beckman) was an invalid restraint on trade in violation of Business and Professions Code section 16600. In 1996, Biosite Inc. (Biosite; Quidel is the successor in interest to Biosite) licensed patent rights and know-how related to a B-type natriuretic peptide (BNP), which can be measured in a person's blood. The semi-exclusive licensing agreement allowed Biosite to develop an immunoassay to determine the level of BNP in a person's blood sample, to help diagnose congestive heart failure. After acquiring the intellectual property rights and know-how, Biosite developed and created a BNP assay for use with its point-of-care analyzer device, and it obtained regulatory approval. By 2003, Beckman had developed a laboratory analyzer, but it did not have a license for a BNP assay compatible with its analyzer. Around this same time, other companies were also pursuing BNP assays for use with their larger analyzers, which could run multiple, different immunoassays at higher volumes than the point-of-care analyzer Biosite had. Collaborating would mean Biosite could expand its customer base to those who wanted to use the larger capacity laboratory analyzers and Beckman could include the BNP assay in its menu of immunoassay offerings. Biosite and Beckman negotiated the Agreement over several months, and they exchanged numerous drafts before executing it. The Agreement prohibited Biosite from engaging other manufacturers to provide the BNP assay for their competing lab analyzers. The term of the Agreement was negotiated to coincide with the term of a related licensing agreement Biosite had with another company, Scios. Section 5.2.3 of the Agreement prohibited Beckman from researching or developing an assay that detected the presence or absence of the BNP or NT-proBNP proteins or markers for use in diagnosing cardiac disease until two years before the Agreement's expiration. Beckman sued Quidel for declaratory relief for violation of section 16600 and violation of the Cartwright Act, asking the Court to declare section 5.2.3 of the Agreement was void and unenforceable and to issue a permanent injunction preventing the enforcement of section 5.2.3 of the Agreement. Quidel argued the trial court improperly extended the holding from Edwards v. Arthur Andersen LLP, 44 Cal.4th 937 (2008) beyond the employment context to section 5.2.3 of the Agreement. The Court of Appeal determined the trial court's per se application of section 16600 to section 5.2.3 of the Agreement between Quidel and Beckman was not correct, granted Quidel’s petition and issued a writ instructing the trial court to vacate the December 7, 2018 order granting summary adjudication on the first cause of action. View "Quidel Corporation v. Super. Ct." on Justia Law

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Bayer AG, maker and marketer of One A Day brand vitamins, was sued in California Superior Court for alleged violations of California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law and express warranty law. Plaintiff William Brady’s theory was that Bayer’s packaging of its “Vitacraves Adult Multivitamin” line of gummies was misleading. Brady argued that despite the One A Day brand name, these particular vitamins require a daily dosage of two gummies to get the recommended daily values. Thus buyers end up receiving only half the daily vitamin coverage they think they are getting. The initial complaint was filed as a class action in March 2016, followed by an amended complaint in April, followed by a demurrer in May. The trial court, relying on the unpublished Howard v. Bayer Corp., E. D. Ark. July 22, 2011 (2011 U. S. Dist. LEXIS 161583) involving the supposedly misleading packaging of Bayer’s One A Day gummies, sustained Bayer’s demurrer without leave to amend. The Court of Appeal concluded Bayer failed to appreciate the degree to which their trade name One a Day has inspired reliance in consumers, and held an action alleging they violated California’s Consumer Legal Remedies Act, Unfair Competition Law and express warranty law should have survived demurrer. View "Brady v. Bayer Corp." on Justia Law

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To seek redress for an opioid epidemic, characterized by the Court of Appeal as having placed a financial strain on state and local governments dealing with the epidemic’s health and safety consequences, two California counties sued (the California Action) various pharmaceutical manufacturers and distributors, including the appellants in this matter, Actavis, Inc., Actavis LLC, Actavis Pharma, Inc., Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Watson Laboratories, Inc., and Watson Pharma, Inc. (collectively, “Watson”). The California Action alleged Watson engaged in a “common, sophisticated, and highly deceptive marketing campaign” designed to expand the market and increase sales of opioid products by promoting them for treating long-term chronic, nonacute, and noncancer pain - a purpose for which Watson allegedly knew its opioid products were not suited. The City of Chicago brought a lawsuit in Illinois (the Chicago Action) making essentially the same allegations. The issue presented by this appeal was whether there was insurance coverage for Watson based on the allegations made in the California Action and the Chicago Action. Specifically, the issue was whether the Travelers Property Casualty Company of America (Travelers Insurance) and St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company (St. Paul) owe Watson a duty to defend those lawsuits pursuant to commercial general liability (CGL) insurance policies issued to Watson. Travelers denied Watson’s demand for a defense and brought this lawsuit to obtain a declaration that Travelers had no duty to defend or indemnify. The trial court, following a bench trial based on stipulated facts, found that Travelers had no duty to defend because the injuries alleged were not the result of an accident within the meaning of the insurance policies and the claims alleged fell within a policy exclusion for the insured’s products and for warranties and representations made about those products. The California Court of Appeal concluded Travelers had no duty to defend Watson under the policies and affirmed. View "The Traveler's Property Casualty Company of America v. Actavis, Inc." on Justia Law

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Plaintiff filed a products liability suit against McNeil and its corporate parent, Johnson & Johnson, after he suffered a severe reaction after taking Motrin. The Court of Appeal held that the jury's verdict finding McNeil liable for negligent failure to warn must be reversed because it was fatally inconsistent with the verdict finding McNeil not liable for strict liability failure to warn; the negligent failure to warn special verdict was also defective because of the failure to include the necessary question whether a reasonable manufacturer under the same or similar circumstances would have warned of the danger; the verdicts against McNeil for negligent and strict liability design defect, as well as against Johnson & Johnson for strict liability design defect, must be reversed, because the design defect claims were based on a theory—failure to sell dexibuprofen—that was impliedly preempted; the strict liability design defect verdicts must also be reversed because the jury found McNeil and Johnson & Johnson liable solely under the consumer expectation test, but that test did not apply when, as here, the question of design defect involved complex questions of feasibility, practicality, risk, and benefit beyond the common knowledge of jurors; and none of plaintiffs' design defect claims could be retried. View "Trejo v. Johnson & Johnson" on Justia Law