Justia Civil Rights Opinion Summaries

Articles Posted in Drugs & Biotech
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In July 2019, the Department of Justice announced a revised protocol for execution by lethal injection using a single drug, pentobarbital. Plaintiffs, federal death row inmates, sought expedited review of three of the district court's rulings, and two plaintiffs with upcoming execution dates moved for stays of execution pending appeal.The DC Circuit held that the district court did not err in granting summary judgment for the government on plaintiffs' Federal Death Penalty Act (FDPA) claim. In this case, plaintiffs had pointed to several alleged discrepancies between the 2019 Protocol and state statutes dictating different methods of execution or aspects of the execution process. The court agreed with the district court's conclusion that there was no conflict, either because the government had committed to complying with the state statutes at issue or because no plaintiff had requested to be executed in accordance with them.However, the court reversed the district court's dismissal of plaintiffs' Eighth Amendment challenge for failure to state a claim. The court held that, by pleading that the federal government's execution protocol involves a "virtual medical certainty" of severe and torturous pain that is unnecessary to the death process and could readily be avoided by administering a widely available analgesic first, plaintiffs' complaint properly and plausibly states an Eighth Amendment claim. The court denied Plaintiffs Hall and Bernard's request for a stay of execution based on the Eighth Amendment claim. The court also held that the district court should have ordered the 2019 Protocol to be set aside to the extent that it permits the use of unprescribed pentobarbital in a manner that violates the Federal Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act (FDCA). Finally, the court affirmed the district court's denial of a permanent injunction to remedy the FDCA violation. View "Roane v. Barr" on Justia Law

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The Supreme Court granted a writ of prohibition sought by Bayer Corporation and related entities (collectively, Bayer) directing the circuit court to dismiss nonresident Plaintiffs’ claims in a petition alleging personal injures from Essure, a female contraceptive device Bayer manufactures and distributes. Specifically, Bayer alleged that Missouri had no specific personal jurisdiction over eighty-five out of ninety-two plaintiffs, who were nonresidents of Missouri and did not allege that their injury occurred in Missouri. The Supreme Court vacated the circuit court’s order overruling Bayer’s motion to dismiss, holding that the petition did not assert any recognized basis for personal jurisdiction over Bayer with respect to nonresident Plaintiffs. View "State ex rel. Bayer Corp. v. Honorable Joan L. Moriarty" on Justia Law

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Apotex applied to the FDA, under the Biologics Price Competition and Innovation Act of 2009, for permission to begin marketing a product allegedly “biosimilar” to Amgen’s FDA-approved Neulasta®. Apotex and Amgen proceeded under the Act’s process for exchanging information and channeling litigation about patents relevant to the application. In this suit, Amgen alleged that Apotex’s proposed marketing would infringe an Amgen patent. On Amgen’s motion, the district court preliminarily enjoined Apotex from entering the market unless it has given Amgen notice after receiving the requested FDA license and then waited 180 days, pursuant to 42 U.S.C. 262(l)(8)(A). The Federal Circuit affirmed. The Act’s commercial-marketing provision is mandatory, with the 180-day period beginning only upon post-licensure notice, and an injunction was proper to enforce the provision against even a biosimilar product​ applicant that did engage in the statutory process for exchanging patent information and channeling patent litigation. View "Amgen Inc. v. Apotex Inc." on Justia Law

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NiGen, manufacturer and distributor of dietary supplements, Isodrene and The HCG Solution, appealed the dismissal of its constitutional and state law claims against the Attorney General based on state sovereign immunity. NiGen had filed suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 after the AG sent letters to NiGen and its retailers, intimating that formal enforcement was on the horizon for both NiGen and its retailers. The retailers pulled the products from their shelves in Texas and other states, allegedly costing NiGen millions of dollars in lost revenue. The court concluded that it is at least partially correct that NiGen’s claims are not barred from federal jurisdiction on the basis of Ex parte Young; federal jurisdiction plainly exists over most of the constitutional claims pled; and NiGen has standing to sue. Accordingly, the court affirmed in part, and vacated, remanding in part for further proceedings. View "NiGen Biotech, L.L.C. v. Paxton" on Justia Law

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GSK filed suit against Abbott over a dispute related to a licensing agreement and the pricing of HIV medications. The central issue on appeal was whether equal protection prohibited discrimination based on sexual orientation in jury selection. GSK contended that a new trial was warranted because Abbott unconstitutionally used a peremptory strike to exclude a juror on the basis of his sexual orientation. The court concluded that GSK had established a prima facie case of intentional discrimination where the juror at issue was the only juror to have identified himself as gay on the record and the subject of the litigation presented an issue of consequence to the gay community. The court held that classifications based on sexual orientation were subject to a heightened scrutiny under United States v. Windsor. The court also held that equal protection prohibits peremptory strikes based on sexual orientation. The history of exclusion of gays and lesbians from democratic institutions and the pervasiveness of stereotypes about the group leads the court to conclude that Batson v. Kentucky applied to peremptory strikes based on sexual orientation. The court also concluded that a Batson challenge would be cognizable only once a prospective juror's sexual orientation was established, voluntarily and on the record. The court rejected Abbott's harmless error argument. Accordingly, the court reversed and remanded. View "SmithKline Beecham Corp. v. Abbott Laboratories" on Justia Law

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Defendant appealed from a conviction of conspiracy to introduce a misbranded drug into interstate commerce, a misdemeanor violation of 21 U.S.C. 331(a) and 333(a)(1). Defendant, a pharmaceutical sales representative, promoted the drug Xyrem for "off-label use." The court agreed with defendant that he was convicted for his speech -- for promoting an FDA-approved drug for off-label use -- in violation of his right of free speech under the First Amendment. The court limited its holding to FDA-approved drugs for which off-label use was not prohibited. Accordingly, the court vacated and remanded. View "United States v. Caronia" on Justia Law