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E.D.N.Y. grants motions filed by Novartis to apply New Jersey punitive damages law in two cases.

news | July 16, 2010

On July 16, 2010, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York (Spatt, J.) granted a motion filed by Firm client Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation (“NPC”) to apply New Jersey punitive damages law in two cases (Deutsch v. NPC and Forman v. NPC) involving claims that the drugs Aredia® and/or Zometa® caused the plaintiffs’ decedents to develop osteonecrosis of the jaw.  The parties agreed that New York law applied to plaintiffs’ substantive causes of action, but NPC argued New Jersey law should govern punitive damages because it was NPC’s alleged corporate conduct that was at issue in plaintiffs’ requests for punitive damages and NPC’s principal place of business is in New Jersey.  The court held that the relevant conduct for plaintiffs’ punitive damages requests was corporate in nature and that “the relevant conduct at issue took place primarily in New Jersey, and not New York.”  Therefore, the court agreed with NPC that New Jersey law should govern this issue. New Jersey (as opposed to New York) caps punitive damages and precludes them entirely in cases involving pharmaceutical products approved by the FDA (with one exception that New Jersey courts have held to be preempted).