The case, Smith V. Bayer Corporation, 09-1205, involves alleged victims of Bayer's anti-cholesterol drug Baycol. The drug, which is also known by its chemical name, cerivastatin, was voluntarily recalled by Bayer following 31 deaths associated with its use. Baycol was initially approved by the US Food and Drug Administration in 1997 but withdrawn from the market in August of 2009 due to its connection to rhabdomyolysis, a breakdown of muscle tissue that can lead to muscle toxicity and kidney failure.
According to the high court, the lower court did not have the authorization to ban the plaintiffs from seeking class certification at the state level. The case was thrown out by the Eighth Circuit US Court of Appeals after a federal judge, who was involved with multi-state litigation against the pharmaceuticals giant, banned other West Virginians from filing parallel class-action lawsuits
against the company. While the federal judge's ruling was directed at preventing re-litigation of the matter, the US Supreme Court determined that he had overstepped his authority under the Anti-Injunction Act.
The Bayer Corporation expressed disappointment in the Supreme Court's decision and asserted that ''Bayer will continue to defend this case, including on the issue of class certification, should it move forward at the state level.''
Bayer further noted that it already paid out $1.17 billion in settlements to more than 3,100 individuals. The company also pointed out that the plaintiffs in this case did not seek class-action status for seven years after the filing of the initial lawsuit and the matter had been addressed and settled in a similar lawsuit. Bayer has energetically challenged the claims of plaintiffs who did not experience any side effects from the usage of Baycol.
The Supreme Court, however, stated that the matter before the state court was not interchangeable with the case in the federal court. The high court further said that the plaintiffs in Smith v. Bayer, were not linked to the federal case in a way that would subject them to the same court judgment.
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