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Second Federal Court Confirms: California Wrongful Death Case Booted Back to State Court

AbbVie, Inc.’s efforts to keep a California Wrongful Death case–Calvillo v. AbbVie, Inc.–from being heard by a California jury took another hit earlier today when the United States Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML) vacated its conditional transfer order that would have sent the case from California to a federal court in Illinois. You can see the JPML’s order here.

AbbVie, along with many other pharmaceutical companies, pay their highly compensated lawyers to unilaterally remove these cases from the state (in this case California) where the death occurred and transfer them to a far away state (in this case Illinois) where the cases will be bundled with hundreds (and even thousands) of other cases. Once the cases are bundled into these hundreds of other cases, the cases are unlikely to ever see the light of day. All of that leads to zero justice for the families in these wrongful death lawsuits.

As stated before on this blog, wrongful death cases are some of the most complex cases involving Trust, Estate, and Probate concepts and a separate civil lawsuit for wrongful death. And these cases are some of the most difficult for the families as they understand their loved one’s death was preventable, and the individual or company responsible for that death refuses to accept responsibility.

That’s where these pharmaceutical companies come in–they refuse to accept responsibility for the harm they cause. In addition to refusing to accept reasonability like a reasonable company should do, they’ve now come up with this procedural game where they remove a case from the state where the death occurred and try to snuff out the surviving family member’s wrongful lawsuit even before it begins.

Now that two federal courts have refused to allow AbbVie to snuff out this wrongful death case, it will assuredly send its team of highly compensated attorneys to California state court and ask that court to dismiss this case before it can be heard by a jury. You can see the first federal court order here, and the second one here.

And that’s just the beginning chapter of the pharmaceutical industry’s playbook for dodging responsibility in these wrongful death cases. They will next file other motions with the court asking it to dismiss this case before a California jury can hear the facts, they will obstruct their employees depositions directing their employees not to answer relevant questions during deposition, they will hire the most expensive experts to go through every medical record and find all the reasons why this person died (and not one of those reasons has anything to do with the company’s drug), and if the case does get in front of a jury, they will do their best to trick and confuse the jury. It’s a simple but very effective playbook.

We’ll keep updating our efforts in this wrongful death case as it moves forward.