United States District Court, D. Maryland
SMITH, et al.
ST. JUDE MEDICAL CARDIAC RHYTHM MANAGEMENT DIVISION, et al.
CATHERINE C. BLAKE UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.
Byron Smith, individually and as personal representative of
the estate of India N. Smith, and Carrie Youngbar,
individually and as parent and next friend of India N. Smith,
(collectively “Plaintiffs”) sued St. Jude Medical
Cardiac Rhythm Management Division (“St.Jude”),
among others, in 2012 for claims arising out of the death of
their three-year-old daughter. This court granted St.
Jude's motion to dismiss in 2013 (ECF Nos. 34 & 35)
and entered a final judgment in favor of St. Jude in 2014
(ECF No. 58). The plaintiffs did not appeal.
Jude moved for a temporary restraining order and preliminary
injunction on July 13, 2017, seeking to restrain plaintiffs
from pursuing their claims in a parallel state court
proceeding in the Circuit Court for Baltimore City, where a
hearing on St. Jude's motion to dismiss recently was set
for July 21, 2017. The issues in this case have been fully
briefed, and counsel participated in oral argument by
conference call with the court on July 19,
2017. For the reasons briefly stated below, the
motion for temporary restraining order will be denied.
Anti-Injunction Act prohibits injunctions of state court
proceedings “unless [the injunction] falls within the
reach” of one of three exceptions outlined in the Act.
Bryan v. BellSouth Commc'n, Inc., 492 F.3d 231,
236 (4th Cir. 2007). Those exceptions are “narrow and
are not [to] be enlarged by loose statutory
construction.” Smith v. Bayer Corp., 564 U.S.
299, 306 (2011) (quoting Chick Kam Choo v. Exxon
Corp., 486 U.S. 140, 146 (1988)). The Supreme Court has
repeatedly noted that “any doubts as to the propriety
of a federal injunction against state court proceedings
should be resolved in favor of permitting the state courts to
proceed.” Smith, 546 U.S. at 306 (quoting
Atlantic Coast Line R. Co. v. Brotherhood of Locomotive
Engineers, 398 U.S. 281, 297 (1970)).
Jude argues that an injunction is authorized under the
relitigation exception, providing that a federal court may
enjoin the proceedings of a state court “to protect or
effectuate its judgments.” 28 U.S.C. § 2283.
“This provision authorizes an injunction to prevent
state litigation of a claim or issue that previously was
presented to and decided by the federal court.”
Smith, 546 U.S. at 306 (internal citation omitted).
As the issuance of an injunction amounts to “heavy
artillery, ” the Court cautions lower courts to keep
the exception “strict and narrow.” Id.
at 307. For the federal court to rely on this exception in
issuing an injunction, “the issues the federal court
decided must have been the same as the one presented in the
state tribunal.” Id.
Court has twice invalidated a federal court's injunction
over the “same issue” requirement. In Chick
Kam Choo, the Court held that a state court applying a
forum non conveniens analysis under Texas law would
use a different legal standard than the federal court
considering the claim under federal forum non
conveniens principles. 486 U.S. at 148-49. Because the
legal standards differed, the issues before the courts
differed, and the district court's granting of an
injunction was unwarranted. Id. In Smith,
the Court similarly determined that class certification,
albeit of identical proposed classes, could differ under
Federal Rule 23 and West Virginia Rule 23. 546 U.S. at 309.
After a thorough analysis of the two standards, the Court
held that the state court using West Virginia's Rule 23
standard, “would decide a different question than the
one the federal court had earlier resolved.”
Id. at 312. Injunctions also have been overturned
when a state court complaint advances legal claims not
previously decided in the federal lawsuit. See,
e.g., SFM Holdings, Ltd. v. Banc of Am. Secs.,
764 F.3d 1327, 1346 (11th Cir. 2014) (finding investor's
conspiracy and contract claims were not identical to claims
previously dismissed by district court and therefore did not
fall within the relitigation exception).
Jude argues that the plaintiff's state court and federal
complaints are identical. To be sure, the complaints are
similar; plaintiff's state court complaint, however,
includes an additional count of informed consent that was not
included in the federal complaint. (Def. Mot. for TRO, Ex. 4
¶¶ 74-79, ECF No. 78-6.) The 2013 ruling dismissed
plaintiff's claims of express warranty and negligent
misrepresentation under the learned intermediary doctrine. In
discussing the learned intermediary doctrine, this court
noted that “St. Jude owed no duty to provide
information or warnings directly to Plaintiffs.”
Smith v. St. Jude Med. Cardiac Rhythm Mgmt. Div.,
No. CIV. CCV-12-1746, 2013 WL 1104427, at *5 (D. Md. Mar. 13,
2013). St. Jude's counsel now contends that this
statement encompasses the additional state court informed
consent claims and, as such, is grounds for estoppel. The
informed consent claim may indeed be barred by collateral
estoppel, but it cannot be said that the claims in the state
court complaint and the issues addressed in this court's
2013 ruling are identical.
appear that the remainder of plaintiff's claims in the
state court complaint are identical to the federal complaint
and likely should be barred by res judicata. There is no
reason, however, to think that the Circuit Court of Baltimore
City cannot determine the preclusive effect of this
court's prior rulings. This court is mindful of the
Supreme Court's caution to resolve any doubts about
enjoining state court proceedings in favor of permitting the
state courts to proceed. The motion for temporary restraining
order will be denied.
reasons stated above, the court will deny the motion for a
temporary restraining order. A separate order follows.
 With the consent of both parties, the
conference call was not ...