2012 DES Case: Mazzei v. Abbott Laboratories & Co.

Abstract

Plaintiff Stephanie Mazzei was born on July 27, 1971. Plaintiff Dorothea Woods-Gaston was born on March 31, 1971. In 2010, plaintiffs filed suit against Lilly and its co-defendants, making claims for strict products liability, negligence, breach of express warranty, breach of implied warranty, and fraudulent misrepresentation, and seeking redress for injuries alleged to have been caused by their in utero exposure to DES. Plaintiffs specifically allege that their injuries were caused by Lilly and its co-defendants’ failure to test DES prior to marketing and distributing the drug. Id. In anticipation of trial, plaintiffs now move for partial summary judgment against Lilly on the grounds of collateral estoppel, claiming that Lilly should be estopped from contesting five of seven jury findings upheld in the 1982 New York Court of Appeals case Bichler v. Eli Lilly & Co.

New York law defines collateral estoppel as

“a narrower species of res judicata, which precludes a party from relitigating in a subsequent action or proceeding an issue clearly raised in a prior action or proceeding and decided against that party or those in privity, whether or not the tribunals or causes of action are the same.”

MAZZEI v. ABBOTT LABORATORIES & CO., Leagle, In%20FDCO%2020120403B23, United States District Court, E.D. New York, March 13, 2012.

Under New York law, two factors must be present in order for the doctrine of collateral estoppel to apply: (1) the issue to be decided in the second action is identical to an issue necessarily decided in the earlier proceeding; and (2) the party against whom collateral estoppel is asserted had a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in that earlier proceeding. The party seeking the benefit of collateral estoppel has the burden of demonstrating that the issues in the present and prior litigations are identical, whereas the party attempting to defeat its application has the burden of establishing the absence of a full and fair opportunity to litigate the issue in the prior action. Kaufman v. Eli Lilly & Co.

Finally,

“federal courts must give to a New York court judgment the same preclusive effect that New York courts would give to it.”

In other words, if New York law would bar Lilly from relitigating a claim in a subsequent state-court suit, it is likewise barred from relitigating the same factual issues in this court.

… read the full paper MAZZEI v. ABBOTT LABORATORIES & CO.. on Leagle.

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