Schwartz and Goldberg Applaud Iowa Court Ruling on “Competitor” Liability

Public Policy Partners Victor Schwartz and Phil Goldberg have authored a September 12, 2014, Washington Legal Foundation Legal Opinion Letter titled “Iowa High Court Exposes Pharma ‘Innovator Liability’ for What it Is: Deep-Pocket Jurisprudence.” They discuss a recent Iowa Supreme Court decision rejecting the effort by plaintiffs’ lawyers to impose liability on brand-name drug makers despite admitting that the plaintiff took only generic versions of a drug. Noting that some 100 state and federal courts have rejected what has been referred to as the “innovator” or “competitor” theory of liability, they note, “only four have accepted it.” While Alabama’s supreme court recently affirmed a ruling allowing the theory, they report that the Iowa high court “parted ways with and specifically took on the Alabama Court’s ruling, calling it an ‘outlier’ and explaining why its adoption is hollow and unsound. With perfect clarity, it said blaming one company for allegations against another is ‘deep-pocket jurisprudence [which] is law without principles.” The authors recommend that the opinion be studied by every state supreme court justice, legal scholar and casebook author in America. They also refer to a Sixth Circuit decision that “reminded federal judges to follow state law, even if they have a personal affinity for this theory.”