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New Jersey Superior Court grants Novartis motion to apply NJ punitive damages law to Zometa cases.

news | November 23, 2009

On November 23, 2009, Judge Mayer of New Jersey Superior Court held that New Jersey law governing punitive damages would apply to two of the Aredia® and Zometa® cases currently being worked up for trial. Firm client Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. (“NPC”) argued that New Jersey law should govern this issue even though the parties stipulated that all other substantive law issues would be governed by Mississippi and Maine law (the states where the plaintiff/decedent lived at the relevant times and where they received relevant medical and dental care).  The court agreed with NPC that (1) New Jersey’s choice of law analysis occurs on an issue by issue basis and (2) because NPC’s principal place of business is in New Jersey, this state had the most significant interest in applying its punitive damages law.  New Jersey does not permit the awarding of punitive damages involving a product that is FDA approved unless a plaintiff can show show fraud on the FDA.  The New Jersey Appellate Division has held that this exception is preempted under Buckman Co. v. Plaintiffs’ Legal Committee.