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Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas Mass Torts Court Grants Forum Non Conveniens Dismissals for General Electric in Gadolinium Cases

news | May 15, 2010

The Hon. Sandra Mazer Moss, the judge presiding over the Gadolinium-Based Contrast Agent (GBCA) mass torts cases for the Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, granted motions to dismiss three cases on forum non conveniens grounds.  The motions had been filed by Hollingsworth LLP for defendants General Electric Company and GE Healthcare, Inc. (GEHC).  There are approximately thirty GBCA cases pending in Philadelphia, many involving non-Pennsylvania plaintiffs, and these are the first forum motions the Court has decided.  In all three cases, the plaintiffs were not Pennsylvania residents and they had never been exposed to GBCAs in Pennsylvania.  Plaintiffs contended that Pennsylvania was an appropriate forum because defendant Bayer Corporation was headquartered in Pittsburgh.  Defendants presented evidence, however, that Bayer Corp. was a holding company which had no significant involvement in the activities allegedly giving rise to the litigation.  Plaintiffs also alleged incidental GEHC contacts with Pennsylvania, including, e.g., that a GEHC witness who worked at GEHC in New Jersey lived in Pennsylvania.  The GE defendants demonstrated that private and public factors, including difficulties in discovery, unavailability of trial witnesses, and displacement of Pennsylvania plaintiffs by plaintiffs with no meaningful Pennsylvania connections, favored dismissal.  Further, GEHC demonstrated that the states of plaintiffs’ residence, plaintiffs’ exposure, defendants’ residence, or the Federal Multidistrict litigation (N.D. Ohio) would be much more appropriate fora.  Judge Moss is currently considering additional forum non conveniens motions and defendants may file additional motions.