Friday, November 30, 2012

Lone Pine Cheat Sheet

            Whenever we learn about the entry of a Lone Pine order, we take the opportunity to extoll the virtues of Lore v. Lone Pine Corp., 1986 WL 637507 (N.J. Sup. Ct. Nov. 18, 1986) in which a New Jersey state court judge ordered plaintiffs to offer proof connecting the defendant's product to the plaintiff's alleged injury.  And with the recent entry of another Lone Pine order in In re Fosamax Products Liability Litigation, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166734 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 20, 2012), we thought it made sense to start keeping track of these orders.  So, here you have our Lone Pine cheat sheet.  Like with our other cheat sheets, this is an attempt to collect all the favorable decisions entering or upholding Lone Pine orders and we’ll do our best to keep it updated (we’ve included toxic tort cases as well because they are helpful). 
            Although the specifics can vary, typically a Lone Pine order requires the plaintiff to prove that he or she was exposed to the defendant's product, to identify the precise alleged injury resulting from the exposure, and to offer some sort of proof that the exposure caused the disease.  Huh?  Isn’t that part of plaintiffs’ burden in every products liability case?  Well, yes.  But as we all well know, in the context of a mass tort or multidistrict litigation (or a toxic tort) hundreds, maybe thousands, of plaintiffs’ cases sit idly on the court’s docket with virtually no case-specific discovery while millions of dollars of discovery directed to defendants goes on for years.  And that means meritless and frivolous cases (it’s no secret that with mass solicitation by plaintiffs’ lawyers many, many non-legitimate cases get filed) go along for the ride and are still hanging around when a mature mass tort moves toward remanding individual cases or settlement discussions begin.
            So it can hardly come as a surprise that we favor a case management mechanism that puts plaintiffs to some level of proof early on in the proceedings.  “Early on” being a relative term as courts seem more willing to enter Lone Pine orders after a litigation has been around a while.  But, even after a few years of general discovery, a Lone Pine order is certainly better for defendants than collecting medical records, deposing plaintiffs and health care providers, retaining experts, deposing opposing experts, and drafting summary judgment motions in one case, let alone hundreds.  All to cause a court to dismiss a claim that was meritless or fraudulent from the start.
            Lone Pine orders are permitted by the broad discretion given to federal courts by FRCP 16(c)(2)(L) to control mass torts and complex litigation.  State courts generally have their own discretion to employ such case management techniques.  Further, as alluded to above, Lone Pine orders “impose a minimal burden on plaintiffs, as it merely asks them to produce information they should already have.”  In re Fosamax Products Liability Litigation, 2012 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 166734 at *6.  The Fosamax court seemed particularly persuaded by the fact that the majority of cases set for trial and/or selected for discovery were dismissed:  “Plaintiffs’ habit of dismissing cases after both parties have expended time and money on case-specific discovery demonstrates that this MDL is ripe for a Lone Pine order.”  Id. at *7.  While a Lone Pine order is not always a slam dunk for the defense, there is certainly enough precedent to argue that entry is grounded in ample law. 
  • Lore v. Lone Pine Corp., 1986 WL 637507 (N.J. Super. Nov. 18, 1986).
  • Eggar v. Burlington Northern Railroad Co., 1991 WL 315487, at *4 (D. Mont. Dec. 18, 1991) (granting summary judgment under prior case management order requiring plaintiffs to produce an medical expert's affidavit “specify[ing], for each test plaintiff, the precise injuries, illnesses or conditions suffered by that plaintiff; the particular chemical or chemicals that, in the opinion of the physician, caused each injury, illness or condition; and the scientific and medical bases for the physician's opinions.  It will not be sufficient for the affidavit to state a 'laundry list' of injuries and chemicals; each injury, illness or condition must be itemized and specifically linked to the chemical or chemicals believed to have caused that particular injury, condition or illness. Moreover, the statement of scientific and medical bases for the opinion shall include specific reference to the particular scientific and/or literature forming the basis for the opinion”), aff’d, 29 F.3d 499 (9th Cir. 1994)
  • Cottle v. Superior Court, 3 Cal. App. 4th 1367 (Cal. App. 1992) (upholding trial court order requiring plaintiffs to identify product, exposure, alleged injury and the identity of a medical expert who will support the plaintiff's personal injury claim”).
  • Atwood v. Warner Electric Brake & Clutch Co, 605 N.E.2d 1032 (Ill. App. 2d 1992) (upholding trial court order requiring plaintiffs to produce case-specific medical reports and submit to defense expert medical examinations before the depositions of the plaintiffs were scheduled).
  • Schelske v. Creative Nail Design, Inc., 933 P.2d 799, 802-05 (Mont. Jan. 2, 1997) (affirming district court's dismissal of plaintiffs who failed to comply with trial court order requiring product identification; use and exposure; and causation linking product defect to an identifiable injury).
  • Acuna v. Brown & Root, Inc., 1998 WL 35283824, at *5-6 (W.D. Tex. Sept. 30, 1998) (dismissing plfs who failed to comply with Lone Pine order requiring an expert report listing all injuries, illnesses or conditions suffered by the plaintiff that were caused by exposure to materials or substances from defendant's operations, specifying what substances caused each injury, identifying the particular activity that was the source of the materials or substances, describing the exposures with specific dates, times, circumstances, incidents and dosages; and
    statng the scientific and medical bases for the expert's opinions), aff’d, 200 F.3d 335 (5th Cir. 2000) (holding no abuse of discretion by trial court in entering Lone Pine orders;
    “the scheduling orders issued below essentially required that information which plaintiffs should have had before filing their claims pursuant to FRCP 11(b)(3)”).
  • Adjemian v. American Smelting & Refining Co., 2002 WL 358829, at *1-6 (Tex. App. March 7, 2002) (affirming district court's dismissal of plaintiffs who failed to comply with trial court order requiring production of information about the specific toxic substances to which they were exposed, the particular injuries that resulted from the exposure, and the medical evidence that supported each claimant's case).
  • In re Baycol Litig., November Term, 2001, No. 0001, Order (Ct. Com. Pl. Phila. Co. Dec. 12, 2003) (entering Lone Pine order in Pennsylvania state court coordinated Baycol proceeding)
  • In re Baycol Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1431, 2004 WL 626866, at *1 (D. Minn. Mar. 18, 2004) (entering initial Lone Pine order, which was later amended, for numerous purposes including toidentify . . . the claims of those plaintiffs who have and those who do not have factually and legally sufficient support for their alleged claims and injuries or damages”).
  • In re 1994 Exxon Chemical Plant Fire,  2005 WL 6252312, at *1-2 (M.D. La. April 7, 2005) (entering Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to produce evidence linking their alleged exposures to a particular substance with an identified injury).
  • In re: N.Y. Rezulin Prods. Liab. Litig., slip op., Master Index No. 752,000/00, Order (N.Y. Sup. Ct. N.Y. Co. Aug. 7, 2004) (entering Lone Pine order in New York state court coordinated Rezulin proceeding).
  • In re Rezulin Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1348, 2005 WL 1105067 (S.D.N.Y. May 9, 2005) (ordering plaintiffs to serve case-specific expert reports, failure to do so may result in sanction of dismissal with prejudice).  See 441 F.Supp.2d 567, 507 (dismissing plaintiffs whose reports were inadequate)
  • In re Silica Prods. Liability Litig., 398 F. Supp. 2d 563, 576 (S.D. Tex. 2005) (entering Lone Pine type order requiring each plaintiff to submit specific information about his exposure to silica dust and detailed medical information concerning each alleged injury).
  • In re 1994 Exxon Chemical Plant Fire, 2005 WL 6252312 (M.D. La. Apr. 7, 2005) (entering Lone Pine order, finding that if plaintiff is unable to comply “the court should be concerned with the viability of that plaintiff’s claims” and that the Lone Pine order “would reduce costs and save time.”)
  • Baker v. Chevron USA, Inc., 2007 WL 315346, at *1 (S.D. Ohio Jan. 30, 2007) (dismissing plaintiffs who failed to comply with Lone Pine case management order requiring them to produce "an affidavit from a qualified expert or experts setting forth for each Plaintiff the specific illness allegedly sustained, the date the illness was diagnosed, the name and address of the medical provider who made the diagnosis, the toxic chemical which allegedly caused the illness, the alleged manner of exposure, and the date, duration, and dose of the exposure").
  • Burns v. Universal Crop Protection Alliance, 2007 WL 2811533, at *2-3 (E.D. Ark. Sept. 25, 2007) (entering Lone Pine order in products liability action brought by 82 cotton farmers against five herbicide manufacturers, finding “a preliminary showing on causation is necessary for efficient case management”).
  • In re Vioxx Prods. Liab. Litig., 557 F. Supp. 2d 741, 743-44 (E.D. La. 2008) (denying plaintiffs’ motion to stay Lone Pine order finding “it is not too much to ask a Plaintiff to provide some kind of evidence to support their claim that Vioxx caused them personal injury . . . Surely if Plaintiffs' counsel believe that such claims have merit, they must have some basis for that belief; after all this time it is reasonable to require Plaintiffs to come forward and show the basis for their beliefs and show some kind of basic evidence of specific causation.”); dismissal of plaintiffs for failure to comply with Lone Pine order affirmed by 388 Fed.Appx. 391, 2010 WL 2802352 (5th Cir. Jul. 16, 2010).
  • In re Bextra and Celebrex Mktg. Sales Practices and Prod. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1699, slip op., (N.D. Cal. Aug. 8, 2008) (Lone Pine order containing step-by-step enforcement enforcement procedures leading to dismissal for failure to comply).
  • Abbatiello v. Monsanto Co., 569 F. Supp. 2d 351, 353-54 (S.D.N.Y. 2008) (in toxic tort action involving multiple parties, court denied plaintiffs’ request to stay previously entered Lone Pine order finding reason for “requiring early individual causation expert evidence, is to protect defendants and the Court from the burdens associated with potentially non-meritorious mass tort claims”).
  • Arias v. Dyncorp, 2008 WL 9887418, slip op. (D.D.C. Oct. 21, 2008) (entering Lone Pine order in toxic tort case involving herbicide exposure, requiring detailed exposure information, including map with location of each exposure event and submission of medical records as prerequisite to discovery).  Dismissal of noncompliant plaintiffs affirmed, ___ F.3d ___, 2014 WL 2219109, at *3 (D.C. Cir. May 30, 2014).
  • Wilcox v. Homestake Mining Co., 2008 WL 4697013, at *1 (D.N.M. Oct. 23, 2008) (dismissing plaintiffs for noncompliance with Lone Pine order requiring “expert affidavits which make a prima facie showing of harmful exposure and specific causation for each injury the particular Plaintiff claims was caused by the Defendants' alleged contamination”), aff’d on other grounds, 619 F.3d 1165 (10th Cir. 2010) (Lone Pine noncompliance dismissals not appealed).
  • McManaway v. KBR, Inc., 265 F.R.D. 384 (S.D. Ind. 2009) (entering Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to serve case-specific expert reports on exposure, injury and causation, but due to the early stage of the litigation “failure to address the causation issue will not be grounds for immediate dismissal” but may warrant awarding defense costs and fees if summary judgment later granted on that basis).
  • In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI), MDL No. 875, Admin. Order #12, slip op., at sec. 5 (E.D. Pa. Sept. 3, 2009) (current version of Asbestos MDL Lone Pine order, requires disclosure of expert reports supporting causation for both malignant and non-malignant cases, “objective and subjective” data on which reports are based must be "identified and descriptively set out within the report or opinion").  Dismissals based on AO #12 affirmed, see below).
  • In re Avandia Mktg., Sales Practices and Prods. Liab. Litig., MDL No. 1871, 2010 WL 4720335 (E.D.Pa. Nov. 15, 2010) (entering Lone Pine order court noted it was concerned by unsupported Plaintiff Fact Sheets and the need to “objectively identify which of the many thousand plaintiffs have injuries which can credibly be attributed to Avandia usage.”  Further, the order “merely requires information which plaintiffs and their counsel should have possessed before filing their claims: proof of Avanida usage, proof of injury, information about the nature of the injury, and the relation in time of the injury to the Avandia usage.”).
  • Avila v. Willits Envtl. Remediation Trust, 633 F.3d 828, 833-34 (9th Cir. Jan. 27, 2011) (upholding entry of Lone Pine order "requir[ing] written statements setting forth “all facts” supporting non-resident and post–1988 resident plaintiffs' claimed exposure, together with a written statement from an expert describing the condition for which recovery was sought, identifying the chemical to which the plaintiff was exposed, explaining the route of exposure, opining on causation, and setting forth the scientific and medical basis upon which the opinion was basedas to exposure and causation," and affirming dismissal of plaintiffs whose proffered expert report failed to satisfy Daubert).
  • Pinares v. United Technologies Corp., 2011 WL 240512, at *1 (S.D. Fla. Jan. 19, 2011) (entering Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to demonstrate a prima facie case that their property has been contaminated by the defendants’ conduct).
  • Strudley v. Antero Resources Corporation, No. 2011CV2218, slip op.  (Denver County, CO May 12, 2012) (court entered Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to produce admissible expert evidence to establish a prima facie showing of exposure and causation; then dismissed case because plaintiffs' expert could not establish causation).  The order was reversed, 2013 WL 3427091 (Colo. App. July 3, 2013), but the Colorado Supreme Court granted an appeal from the reversal.  2014 WL 1357327 (Colo. April 7, 2014).
  • Baker v. Anschutz Exploration Corp., No. 11-Civ.-6119-CJS, slip op. (W.D.N.Y. Sept. 25, 2012) (entering Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to produce expert reports quantifying property contamination and alleged contaminants).  Order deemed complied with at Baker v. Anschutz Exploration Corp., 2013 WL 3282880, at *5 (W.D.N.Y. June 27, 2013).
  • In re Fosamax Products Liability Litigation, 2012 WL 5877418 (S.D.N.Y. Nov. 20, 2012) (entering Lone Pine order for particular alleged injuries to “target potentially spurious claims without imposing undue obligations upon other plaintiffs.”).
  • Asarco LLC v. NL Industries, Inc., 2013 WL 943614, at *3 (E.D. Mo. March 11, 2013) (court entered Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to “establish (a) the identity of each hazardous substance from each Defendant's activities that resulted in exposure and which [plaintiff] claims has caused environmental injury, (b) whether any and each of these substances can cause the type(s) of environmental injuries [plaintiff] claims occurred and for which it seeks contribution (general causation), (c) the dose or other quantitative measurement of the concentration, timing, and duration of exposure, (d) the precise location of each exposure, (e) an identification, by way of reference to scientifically based studies, of the specific environmental harms that have allegedly occurred, (f) quantification of contamination to property attributable to each Defendant's operations, and (g) a conclusion that such harm was in fact caused by exposure from each separate Defendant's operations”).
  • In re Asbestos Products Liability Litigation (No. VI), 718 F.3d 236, 244-45 (3d Cir. May 31, 2013) (Lone Pine order (AO 12 affirmed.  MDL court properly required all asbestos plaintiffs to “submit to the court a copy of the medical diagnosing report or opinion upon which the plaintiff now relies,” and “requir[e] a complete exposure history.”  Noncompliant plaintiffs were properly dismissed).
  • Abner v. Hercules, Inc., 2014 WL 5817542, at *2-6 (S.D. Miss. Nov. 10, 2014) (entering Lone Pine order requiring plaintiffs to demonstrate a prima facie case that their property has been contaminated by the defendants’ conduct).

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