SMITH v. BAYER CORP.

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
09-1205
Petitioner 
Keith Smith et al.
Respondent 
Bayer Corp.
Decided By 
Advocates
(for the petitioners)
(for the respondent)
Term:
Facts of the Case 

Bayer Corp. withdrew the cholesterol-lowering drug, Baycol, from the market in August 2001 because of its alleged role in serious side effects and the deaths of some patients using the drug. Keith Smith and Shirley Sperlazza filed a lawsuit in West Virginia state court in 2001, seeking class certification for Baycol users throughout the state. Meanwhile, a separate putative West Virginia class action, filed was removed to federal court and consolidated as part of a multidistrict litigation in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota. In August 2008, the court denied certification on grounds that plaintiffs could not litigate economic loss claims as a class.

Counsel for Smith and Sperlazza later received a notice declaring that their case in West Virginia state court was bound by that ruling. They appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which affirmed the lower court order in January 2010.

Question 

Did a lower court erroneously prevent a group of plaintiffs from proceeding with a class-action lawsuit over a cholesterol-lowering drug that was removed from the market in 2001?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Smith, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Anti-Injunction Act

Yes. The Supreme Court reversed the lower court's opinion in a unanimous decision by Justice Elena Kagan. "In enjoining the state court from considering Smith's class certification request, the federal court exceeded its authority under the 'relitigation exception' to the Act," Kagan wrote.

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SMITH v. BAYER CORP.. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 12 December 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1205>.
SMITH v. BAYER CORP., The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1205 (last visited December 12, 2014).
"SMITH v. BAYER CORP.," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed December 12, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/2010-2019/2010/2010_09_1205.