The gap that the Supreme Court’s non-precedential decision, Warner-Lambert Co., LLC v. Kent, 128 S.Ct. 1168 (2008), left open earlier this year continues to force the lower courts to take sides, as was done in the latest case – Grange v. Mylan Labs., Inc., Case No. 1:07-CV-107 (N.D. Utah Oct. 31, 2008). Specifically, the controversy remains on whether fraud-on-the-FDA claims ruled preempted by the Supreme Court in Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Steering Committee, 531 U.S. 341 (2000) will preempt exceptions that are put forth to overcome a statutory presumption that would otherwise bar recovery. So far, the Sixth Circuit in Garcia v. Wyeth-Ayerst Labs., 385 F.3d 961 (6th Cir. 2004) has held that such claims are preempted; the Second Circuit in Desiano v. Warner-Lambert & Co., 467 F.3d 85, 97 (2d Cir. 2006) has held that they are not.
In this latest case, the District Court of Utah found the Sixth Circuit’s reasoning more persuasive in deeming the exception to a statutory presumption for punitive damages preempted, because the exception was triggered where there was evidence that the manufacturer of a manufacturer’s knowing withholding or misrepresentation of information required to submit to the FDA. The court in Grange stated:
"That said, the Sixth Circuit’s decision in Garcia is more persuasive here. The chief problems that Buckman sought to counteract are present whenever a plaintiff, as a prerequisite to collecting damages, is required to put on evidence that there was what amounts to fraud on the FDA. When such evidence is considered, state courts are essentially second-guessing the FDA and drug companies, nervous about state litigation, will have an incentive to flood the FDA with information. The court accordingly agrees with Garcia, and holds that Utah Code Ann. § 78B-8-203(2) is, in part, preempted. Specifically, to the extent that Utah Code Ann. § 78B-8-203(2) allows for an exception in cases where a plaintiff puts on his or her own independent evidence of information being withheld from the FDA, this statute is preempted. There is no preemption, however, in a situation where a plaintiff invokes Utah Code Ann. § 78B-8-203(2) to seek punitive damages in cases where the FDA itself has found that there was fraud in the application process."
For more, see Drug and Device Law’s post about this case from earlier this morning.