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Jones v. Medtronic Inc.

United States District Court, D. Arizona

August 14, 2019

Kathryn Marie Jones, Plaintiff,
Medtronic Incorporated, et al., Defendants.


          Honorable Steven P. Logan, United States District Judge.

         Before the Court is Defendants Medtronic Incorporated (“Medtronic Inc.”), Medtronic Sofamor Danek USA Incorporated (“Sofamor Danek”), Medtronic PLC, Medtronic, Medtronic Sofamor Danek, and Medtronic Spinal & Biologics (together, the “Defendants”) Motion to Dismiss Plaintiff's Amended Complaint (Doc. 85) (the “Motion”). The Motion was fully briefed on April 1, 2019. (Docs. 97, 98) Because it would not assist in resolution of the instant issues, the Court finds the pending motion is suitable for decision without oral argument. See LRCiv. 7.2(f); Fed.R.Civ.P. 78(b); Partridge v. Reich, 141 F.3d 920, 926 (9th Cir. 1998). The Court's ruling is as follows.

         I. Background

         On October 26 and 27, 2010, Kathryn Marie Jones (the “Plaintiff”) underwent three spinal fusion surgeries at a hospital in Dallas, Texas. (Doc. 77 at 1) During the course of her surgeries, the Plaintiff was implanted with four Medtronic PEEK polymer Clydesdale intervertebral body fusion devices and one Medtronic PEEK polymer Capstone intervertebral body fusion device (together, the “PEEK Devices”). (Doc. 77 at 4) The Plaintiff alleges that 14[1] doses of Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft biological material was “splashed” onto her spine during the course of the surgery, and one Medtronic titanium CD Horizon spinal fixation system was also implanted. (Doc. 97 at 4, 42) The Plaintiff's spine failed to fuse, and the Plaintiff suffers a myriad of physical ailments as a result of the unsuccessful surgery. (Doc. 77 at 7-8, 50-52)

         The Plaintiff filed the FAC alleging various product liability claims, among other claims. (Doc. 77) In summary, the Plaintiff alleges that the Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft biological material was not supposed to be used with the PEEK Devices. (Doc. 77 at 4) The Plaintiff alleges that a different spinal fusion product, the Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft/LT-Cage Lumbar Tapered Fusion Device (the “LT-Cage Device”), was designed and manufactured for use with the Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft biological material. (Doc. 77 at 3) The Plaintiff was not implanted with the LT-Cage Device.[2] (Doc. 77 at 4) The Plaintiff alleges that the PEEK Devices “migrate, subside and are expulsed, ” which does not allow the PEEK Devices to contain the Medtronic Infuse Bone Graft biological material for a long enough period for spinal fusion to occur. (Doc. 77 at 4)

         The Plaintiff filed the FAC on January 3, 2019. (Doc. 77) On January 31, 2019, the Defendants filed the Motion seeking to dismiss the FAC pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(2) and 12(b)(6). (Doc. 85)

         II. Legal Standard

         A. FRCP 12(b)(2)

         “[T]he plaintiff bears the burden of demonstrating that jurisdiction is appropriate.” Picot v. Weston, 780 F.3d 1206, 1211 (9th Cir. 2015). Where, as here, a defendant's motion to dismiss is based on a written record and no evidentiary hearing is held, “the plaintiff need only make a prima facie showing of jurisdictional facts.” Id. “For a court to exercise personal jurisdiction over a non-resident defendant, that defendant must have at least ‘minimum contacts' with the relevant forum such that the exercise of jurisdiction ‘does not offend traditional notions of fair play and substantial justice.'” Dole Food Co. v. Watts, 303 F.3d 1104, 1110-11 (9th Cir. 2002) (quoting Int'l Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 316 (1945)). “In judging minimum contacts, a court properly focuses on ‘the relationship among the defendant, the forum, and the litigation.'” Calder v. Jones, 465 U.S. 781, 788 (1984) (quoting Shaffer v. Heitner, 433 U.S. 186, 204 (1977)). When no federal statute specifically defines the extent of personal jurisdiction, federal courts look to the law of the state where the district court sits-in this case, Arizona. CE Distribution, LLC v. New Sensor Corp., 380 F.3d 1107, 1110 (9th Cir. 2004). “Arizona's long-arm rule permits the exercise of personal jurisdiction to the extent allowed by the due process clause of the United States Constitution.” Ochoa v. J.B. Martin & Sons Farms, Inc., 287 F.3d 1182, 1188 (9th Cir. 2002).

         Personal jurisdiction may be either general or specific. See Bancroft & Masters, Inc. v. Augusta Nat'l Inc., 223 F.3d 1082, 1086 (9th Cir. 2000). “A court may assert general jurisdiction over foreign (sister-state or foreign-country) corporations to hear any and all claims against them when their affiliations with the State are so ‘continuous and systematic' as to render them essentially at home in the forum State.” Goodyear Dunlop Tires Operations, S.A. v. Brown, 131 S.Ct. 2846, 2851 (2011) (citing Int'l Shoe, 326 U.S. at 317).

         In deciding whether a defendant is subject to specific personal jurisdiction, federal courts consider whether (1) the non-resident defendant purposefully directs his activities or consummates some transaction with the forum or resident thereof; or performs some act by which he purposefully avails himself of the privilege of conducting activities in the forum, thereby invoking the benefits and protections of its laws; (2) the claim arises out of or relates to the defendant's forum-related activities; and (3) the exercise of jurisdiction comports with fair play and substantial justice, i.e. it must be reasonable. Picot, 780 F.3d at 1211 (citing Schwarzenegger v. Fred Martin Motor Co., 374 F.3d 797, 802 (9th Cir. 2004). The plaintiff has the burden of proving the first two prongs. CollegeSource, Inc. v. AcademyOne, Inc., 653 F.3d 1066, 1076 (9th Cir. 2011). If he does so, the burden shifts to the defendant to “set forth a ‘compelling case' that the exercise of jurisdiction would not be reasonable.” Id. (quoting Burger King Corp. v. Rudzewicz, 471 U.S. 462, 477 (1985)). For claims sounding in tort, courts apply a “purposeful direction” test and look to evidence that the defendant has directed his actions at the forum state, even if those actions took place elsewhere. Schwarzenegger, 374 F.3d at 802.

         B. FRCP 12(b)(6)

         To survive a FRCP 12(b)(6) motion to dismiss, a complaint must contain “a short and plain statement of the claim showing that the pleader is entitled to relief” such that the defendant is given “fair notice of what the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it rests.” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550 U.S. 554, 555 (2007) (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2); Conley v. Gibson, 355 U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). The Court may dismiss a complaint for failure to state a claim under FRCP 12(b)(6) for two reasons: (1) lack of a cognizable legal theory, and (2) insufficient facts alleged under a cognizable legal theory. Balistreri v. Pacificia Police Dep't, 901 F.2d 696, 699 (9th Cir. 1990).

         In deciding a motion to dismiss, the Court must “accept as true all well-pleaded allegations of material fact, and construe them in the light most favorable to the non-moving party.” Daniels-Hall v. Nat'l Educ. Ass'n, 629 F.3d 992, 998 (9th Cir. 2010). In comparison, “allegations that are merely conclusory, unwarranted deductions of fact, or unreasonable inferences” are not entitled to the assumption of truth, and “are insufficient to defeat a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim.” Id.; In re Cutera Sec. Litig., 610 F.3d 1103, 1108 (9th Cir. 2010). A plaintiff need not prove the case on the pleadings to survive a motion to dismiss. OSU Student All. v. Ray, 699 F.3d 1053, 1078 (9th Cir. 2012).

         III. Analysis

         A. FRCP 12(b)(2) Lack of ...

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